Why a theology of mixed race life? Who is it for? In many ways this book is a deeply personal journey. It is an attempt to discern my own life as a mixed race child, figuring out where to belong, realizing that belonging is itself a difficult and dangerous business. Yet, it is also a a work that arises out of a Christian faith that both grounded my disorientation while introducing new questions, possibilities and impossibilities.-Brain Bantum

REDEEMING MULATTO

A visual resource noting and complimenting Brain Bantum's scholarship on the mulatto/a preformed in Jesus Christ.

PURITY VS. IMPURITY:
The mulatto/a between two idenitities

"The interracial of mulatto/a body is the site that unveils race as tragic illusion...bodily inferiority or a profound loneliness, is instead seen as the necessity of negotiation with in multiple worlds that refuse them or which they themselves refuse" (Redeeming Mulatto, Bantum, 2010, 16).

Who is Black?
One Nation's Definition

"We must also pay attention to the terms "mulatto" and "colored." The term "mulatto" was originally used to mean the offspring of a "pure African Negro" and a "pure white." Although the root meaning of mulatto, in Spanish, is "hybrid," "mulatto" came to include the children of unions between whites and so-called "mixed Negroes." For example, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass, with slave mothers and white fathers, were referred to as mulattoes. To whatever extent their mothers were part white, these men were more than half white." (Davis)

Frederick Douglass 1818-1895

"Whites in the United States need some help envisioning the American black experience with ancestral fractions...A quadroon is one-fourth African black and thus easily classed as black in the United States, yet three of this person's four grandparents are white. An octoroon has seven white great-grandparents out of eight and usually looks white or almost so. Most parents of black American children in recent decades have themselves been racially mixed, but often the fractions get complicated because the earlier details of the mixing were obscured generations ago...." (Davis)

The Problem of Passing

"Mulattos/a are constantly negotiating their relationships and realities because their lives are negotiating the lines (and practices) that constitute racial lives (either white and black), as well as seeking to live into racial space despite the impossibility" (Redeeming Mulatto, 46)

James Weldon Johnson 1871-1938

"Passing fiction seeks to re-articulate bodies 'long indicated as a symptom of middle class bias, racial self-hatred, and internalization of white values.' This re-articulation 'in African American fiction of the New Negro Renaissance the trope of passing functions instead as an aggressive strategy to reinterpret race as a socio-cultural construct, rather than a biological destiny" (Redeeming Mulatto, 47)

Christianity Not Innocent

"For many of these early European explorers, the Bible was not only regarded as infallible, it was also their primary reference tool and those looking for answers to explain differences in ethnicity, culture, and slavery, found them in Genesis 9: 24-27, which appeared to suggest that it was all a result of 'sin'." (Reddie)

“I’m sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn’t have many of the problems that we have.
The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

"Through the fissures of discourse that render 'mixed bodies' possible we can see Christ's own life as the ground of this particular personhood, even as he is its salvation." -Bantum

CHRIST AS THE MULATTO:
Christ prefigures unity in distinction

"In Jesus we are confronted with God enfleshed who encounters us with humanity we can neither classify nor ignore." (Redeeming Mulatto, 88)

"What" is Christ?

"Maximus the Confessor, clarifying the position of Chalcedon, later described Christ's personhood as a 'union that realizes one person composite of both natures, insomuch as it in no way diminishes the essential difference between those natures..." (Redeeming Mulatto, 95)

Jesus: neither/nor-but

"[Jesus] was mulatto not solely because he was 'mixture,' but because his very body confounds the boundaries of purity/impurity and humanity/divinity that seemed necessary for us to imagine..." (Redeeming Mulatto, 98)

"In his own person Christ is the paradoxical neither/nor-but wherein his humanity is now bound by his divinity...Thus mulatto/a existence is born not only out of this encounter, but also within the disruption of discourse that suggests we can be understood in terms that are apart from another." (Redeeming Mulatto, 107)

"Intermixture is no longer constructed as tragic, for it is a performance of human lives and thus transforms the meaning of purity recreating true humanity through a hybridity of flesh and spirit " (Redeeming Mulatto, 109)

POSSIBILITIES VS. LIMITATIONS:
Love your neighbor as yourself

"Christ's person and mission reflect not only a radical self-giving, but also a radical receptivity to the Father's will. Thus, the personhood that is opened up expresses a perichoretic economy wherein each person is radically receiving and giving to the other." (Redeeming Mulatto, 117)

Picture take during Baltimore riots surrounding Freddie Gray's death, April 2015

How can this be?- Abram and Mary
Who is my mother and who is my brother?
- Religious Leaders

Bantum uses both questions to illustrate the limitations that were often put on the actions and reach of God/Jesus.                                             Could God really transcend the boundaries of physical bareness? Would Jesus' person and message transcend racial boundaries?

Pneumatic Personhood and Fellowship

"Kinship is now reconfigured, not through biological, ethnic, or genealogical ties, but rather is stitched together through a common birth...[Christ's life] is recreating human life, welcoming humanity into the reciprocity of his own life with the Father through the Spirit." (Redeeming Mulatto, 132)

Jesus You're the hope I cling to

Tower that I run to

Saviour, ever near
Radiant, light within my darkness
Faithful in my weakness
God who strengthens me
Lead me, take me ever deeper
Show me all the riches of this mystery

Christ in me
My hope and my glory
My certainty
My heart bows down
Surrendered in worship
To my God and King


Jesus, You're the holy promise
Poured Your blood out for us
Rose again to life
All my sins are now forgiven
And my life is hidden
Saved through Jesus Christ
Jesus when I stand in glory
With Your throne before me
I'll be found in You

My hope is built
On nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust my feeble frame

But wholly lean on Jesus' name

"The purity of obedience and desire is not the refusal of difference grounded in racial or ethnic differentiations...instead purity wrought through the union with Christ is the conflagration of impossibility and possibility within one's own body.  

The body becomes iconic of the possibility of transformation and the movement of being one to becoming  another.
The transformation becomes the mark of the baptized for the very name, which one then claims,
Christian."
(Redeeming Mulatto, 156)

Prayer for Racial Reconciliation and the Church

Our Father in heaven, in you all people of the earth find their true identity. You made us all equally in your image, as your children, and therefore as each other’s brother and sisters.

Holy be your name and the honor you have bestowed on your united church, above our pride, allegiances, and all other identities and affiliations that tempt us to value ourselves above others and put you second.

Your kingdom come into your divided church and this broken world. Transform us into new creations who live in harmony, make righteous judgments, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts that long for your kingdom, and wills to truly seek it first, whatever the cost.

Your will be done on earth, as joyfully and wholeheartedly as it is in heaven. Oh God of the widow and orphan, the poor and distressed, bring forth your justice, for only you can perfectly judge, recompense and reunite this riven family of humanity.

Give us today our daily bread; where we hoard, make us generous; where we claim ownership, teach us to steward humbly; and when we worry, help us to trust you more boldly.

Forgive us our sins of unforgiveness, partiality, prejudice, and racism. Forgive us the silence when we should speak out and the rash words when we should listen. Forgive us for our blindness regarding the needs and hurts of those you made our family, but whom we may oftentimes treat as enemies. Forgive us for the lies we’ve believed about others in your family. Forgive us for refusing to make right the wrongs and injustices we could address and for refusing to repent of our sin and seek peace. Forgive us for our lack of love. Forgive us for the times we have allowed our pain to lead us into sin and thinking that we are wrestling with flesh and blood instead of principalities and powers.

Help us forgive those who sin against us. Remind us how much you’ve forgiven us and how warmly and completely you welcome us in Jesus, no matter how deeply we’ve betrayed you. Help us to forgive. Help us to extend grace to those who have harmed and hurt us. Give us your supernatural forgiveness.

Lead us not into temptations to stonewall, reject or let others suffer when we could stand with them or come to their aid. When we are tempted to avoid, help us to courageously engage. When we are tempted to lash out, help us to gently speak in love.

Deliver us from evil — both from the evil that is within each of us and the forces of spiritual darkness that twist your good design for maximum hurt and harm. Deliver us from the personal evil of individuals and the collective evil of unjust systems and structures.

For yours is the kingdom in which all nations will one day be healed, all swords melted into plowshares and all tears wiped away for good. It is before you, that we will gather as a great multitude no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before your throne and before the Lamb with palm branches in our hands.

Yours is the power that overcame death and the grave, and that overcomes sin in our hearts and the world.

And yours is the glory for this coming and yet-to-come redemption and reunification, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Comment Stream