In Black Theology and The Black Panthers, Joshua S. Bartholomew deals with the relationship between economic justice and racial equality. By examining the economic philosophies and inter-communal survival programs of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense from 1967-1971, Bartholomew utilizes a Womanist methodology to connect the praxis of The Panthers with priorities of Black Theological Ethics. In doing so, Bartholomew offers a basis for moving Christian ethicists away from normative models of economic justice that eschew experience and knowledge from marginalized communities. Ultimately, Bartholomew reveals how the power of racial politics for radical change can constructively and inclusively impact the struggle for freedom and social justice.
Joshua S. Bartholomew is assistant professor of ethics, church, and society at Saint Paul School of Theology.
Chapter One: Black Theology and Modern Economic Thought
Chapter Two: The Panthers’ Praxis from 1967-1971
Chapter Three: A Consideration of Praxis
Chapter Four: Ethics of Dismantling
About the Author
Joshua Bartholomew’s project is one of excavation, critical examination, and inspiration. For Bartholomew, the anticolonial, anticapitalist vision of the Black Panthers established a praxis of liberation that we need today, urgently, as partisans of social justice navigate a hyper-racialized, hyper-exploitative landscape that is, if anything, even uglier and more damaging than the world the Panthers confronted in the 1960s and 1970s. Bartholomew’s brilliant and nuanced exploration places Panther praxis into dialogue with Black theology and womanism, thereby providing us with a vision of practice to reorient contemporary struggles in ways that just might promote genuine, enduring, racial and economic justice.
Bartholomew’s extended argument that systemic racism is a capitalist construct not only deepens our understanding of systemic racism but also points towards solutions that deserve a greater hearing. This account of the deep connections between racial justice and economic self-determination reclaims a range of important conversations that are well worth being considered by scholars of theology and religion.
Black Theology and the Black Panthers fills a gaping hole in Black theology and Black religious studies. Its unwavering emphasis on the significance of economic justice for the task of collective Black liberation is unparalleled in the field. Bartholomew’s move to center the nationalist praxis of the Black Panther Party in the orbit of Black and womanist theological inquiry is a groundbreaking effort that cannot be ignored. The guild has been waiting for this book! It is a must-read for anyone who is concerned with the liberation of Black and poor people around the globe.
Black Theology and The Black Panthers is a timely theological-ethical examination that is both a critique of and response to a commodified exploitative construction of capitalism. Building on principles of Black socialism that were hallmarks of the Black Panthers’ community based and community-responsive programs, Joshua Bartholomew’s theological-ethical articulation of a pragmatic ethic of resistance is a major contribution to economic, liberationist, religious, and theological studies.
Carefully exposing the anti-Blackness of capitalism that compromises any prospects of Black capitalist enterprise as a sufficient tool to dismantle anti-Black racism, Bartholomew provides a critical reading of the Black Panthers through the lens of Black liberation and womanist theologies—and a critical expansion of Black liberation and womanist theologies through a reconsideration of the Black Panthers. We are indebted to Bartholomew for his development of an economic model of praxis for Black theology that draws from the wisdoms of the Panthers, womanism, and Black liberation theology.