The Black God trope: toward a history of Black Nationalist religious rhetoric

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Armondo Collins (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Noelle Morrissette

Abstract: This project theorizes the Black God trope as a rhetorical strategy used by many African-American rhetors across the history of African-American letters. The Black God trope is a linguistic, imagistic, and embodied rendering of religious concepts, such as God is Black, to create associations of meaning that foreground racial uplift. The Black God trope is a rhetorically constituted phenomenon created through resistance strategies that target African-American audience members, but are also accessed by anyone culturally rooted in the terms of the conversation. First, I demonstrate how Black rhetors writing about a Black God creates a language system that reflects African-Americans’ shifting subjectivity within the American experience. Offering examples from Ethiopianism to rap music, I focus on the Black God trope from the 1950s to the 1990s. Across these examples, I provide evidence of linguistic, imagistic, and embodied rhetorical resistance to white western patriarchy. Finally, I examine the Black God trope as a gendered critique of white and Black western patriarchy to demonstrate how an ideology like womanism is voiced by authors using the Black God trope as a means of public address. This work is the beginning of a rhetorical history that understands a Black God and Black Nationalist religious rhetoric as central to conducting scholarship on the African-American experience. The project offers a pathway to new and creative teaching and research methods that engage diversity and multivocality.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
African-American Literature, Black Nationalism, Enthymeme, Ethos, Religion, Rhetoric
American literature $x African American authors
African Americans $x Intellectual life
African Americans $x Religion
Rhetoric $x Religious aspects
Black nationalism in literature
Black theology

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