BOOKS & BOOK CHAPTERS
The Spirit of Soul Food
Soul food has played a critical role in preserving Black history, community, and culinary genius. It is also a response to–and marker of–centuries of food injustice. Given the harm that our food production system inflicts upon Black people, what should soul food look like today?
My answer to that question merges a history of Black American foodways with a Christian ethical response to food injustice. I reveal how racism and colonialism have long steered the development of US food policy. The very food we grow, distribute, and eat disproportionately harms Black people specifically and people of color among the global poor in general. I reflect on how people of color can eat in a way that reflects their cultural identities while remaining true to the principles of compassion, love, justice, and solidarity with the marginalized.
Both a timely mediation and a call to action, The Spirit of Soul Food (December 2021, University of Illinois Press) places today's Black foodways at the crossroads of food justice and Christian practice.
Prophetic Labrador: Expanding (Black) Theology by Overcoming the Invisibility of Animal Life and Death
Similar to people of color, the more-than-human world, including animals, is often silenced within mainstream theology with its commitment to reinforcing the human/animal binary. When this happens, we give life to the lie that only socially acceptable experiences shape our theological ideas. Within the framework this lie is built upon, our experiences with the more-than-human world only count inasmuch as they reinforce human, male, and white domination hierarchies.
As such, the goal of my chapter in the edited volume Feeling Animal Death was to continue thinking theologically in community with the more-than-human-world. Specifically, I explore how my relationship with my now deceased chocolate Labrador Sampson continues to influence how I encounter, experience, and make sense of my relationships with the other creatures that inhabit the planet.
Blood in the Soil: The Racial, Racist, and Religious Dimensions of Environmentalism.
The agricultural soil of America is covered in the blood, sweat, and tears of many forced laborers, among them African and African American slaves. The depth of psychological trauma embodied within Black people with respect to their enslavement and forced agricultural labor is deep.
The purpose of my chapter in the edited volume The Bloomsbury Handbook of Religion and Nature was to explore some of the reasons why Black people have been reluctant to participate in the environmental movement writ large and to what extent Christian theology may have influenced our reluctance. I explore the impact slavery and segregation have had on Black people with respect to ecological care, the role whiteness has played in reinforcing problematic notions of humanness as it relates to Black bodies, and how these beliefs have contributed to the overwhelming whiteness of the environmental movement.
The Future of Meat Without Animals
The Future of Meat Without Animals examines conceptual and cultural opportunities, entanglements, and pitfalls in moving global meat, egg, and dairy consumption toward these animal-free options. Beyond surface tensions of “meatless meat” and “animal-free flesh,” deeper conflicts proliferate around naturalized accounts of human identity and meat consumption, as well as the linkage of protein with colonial power and gender oppression. What visions and technologies can disrupt modern agriculture? What economic and marketing channels are required to scale these products? What beings and ecosystems remain implicated in a livestock-free food system?
A future of meat without animals invites adjustments on the plate, but it also inspires renewed habits of mind as well as life-affirming innovations capable of nourishing the contours of our future selves. This book illuminates material and philosophical complexities that will shape the character of our future/s of food.
How Does It Feel To Be A Problem: Affect Theory and White Dominance
This article explores the affective (e.g. the felt and emotional) dimensions of race and racialization. I argue that affect theory helps us understand how, for white people, white supremacy and white dominance can feel religious and become moralized as the right thing to do. Given this, I suggest that white theologians, activists, and everyday white people who long for an anti-racist society would benefit from asking themselves the question DuBois' asks Black folk in his famous work The Souls of Black Folk - how does it feel to be the problem?
The imago Dei as the Mind of Jesus Christ
In this essay, I examine David Clough’s interpretation of the imago Dei and his use of “creaturely” language in his book On Animals: Volume 1, Systematic Theology. Contrary to Clough, I argue that the imago Dei (the belief that created beings reflect the image of God) should be interpreted as being uniquely human. Using a neuro-scientific approach, I elaborate on my claim that while Jesus is the image of God perfected, the imago Dei is best understood as having the mind of Christ.
Eating Food & Justice
Food injustice presents pressing questions for religious leaders. What role ought we play? How should our communities participate in this justice movement? How might we eat both food and justice? How might religious communities subvert the structural inequalities and embedded racism in our food system? While there are no easy answers to complex problems, progress can be made if religious communities develop something unfamiliar to many of them: a theology of eating.
In this essay, I argue that religious communities should be centrally involved in any food justice movement. Thinking theologically about our food and where it comes from is the first important step in addressing the structural inequalities of our food system. Whenever and wherever we eat, we should take the time to ask ourselves if the food on our plates enables or inhibits the collective flourishing of the earths ecology.