A Review of the Book, “Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics”

Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot
Anti-Blackness and Christian Ethics, edited by Vincent W. Lloyd and Andrew Prevot

The term anti-blackness is relatively new. Some think it should replace racism and white privilege as the organizing concept for addressing the mistreatment of African Americans. For them, racism is too general and malleable, as it can be deployed to discuss any form of differential treatments based on conceptions of race.

Though white privilege draws attention to the many benefits of being deemed a white person—like the reality that I don’t feel anxious when I walk by a police car—it fails to account for the horrifying treatment of those regarded as black. White privilege keeps one person from being shot by the police, but it does not explain why other individuals are far more likely to have bullet holes riddle their bodies. Anti-blackness clearly names the problem: the personal, cultural, social, legal, and structural attacks on people called black.

Following a 2016 symposium at Bos­ton College on the subject, Vincent W. Lloyd of Villanova University and Andrew Prevot of Boston College brought together ten essays that relate ethics and theology to different facets of anti-blackness throughout American history. Most of the contributors are African Americans. Most of them emphasize Christian ethics, but the volume also contains essays by agnostics and Jews.

The reasons for the collection are obvious. Month after month, anti-blackness overwhelms American society—from police killings of black men to politicians courting antiblack groups to incarceration rates that reveal bias and deep structural problems. The suffocating presence of anti-blackness is, in part, why Eric Garner’s words while being grabbed by police have become a rallying cry for many in the Black Lives Matter movement: “I can’t breathe.”

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SOURCE: Edward J. Blum
The Christian Century