When Dr. Christena Cleveland’s award-winning book Disunity in Christ was published in 2013, she was thoroughly convinced that she was a reconciler. She reasoned that “reconcilers are bridges, and bridges get stepped on.”
“So I thought it was my duty and my calling, and even a pathway to faithfulness or holiness for me to do everything I could to try to bring people to what might be called a reconciliation table, even if that meant being trampled myself,” Cleveland told Faithfully Magazine.
“I was usually really, really, really focused on honoring the dignity in other people. And it hadn’t quite occurred to me that my dignity was just as important,” she added.
Things changed, however, when Cleveland set out on the journey that led to the development of her second book, God Is a Black Woman — published nine years after Disunity in Christ.
In God Is a Black Woman, Cleveland shares her painful yet liberating journey of confronting what she calls “whitemalegod” and recounts how she learned to embrace the Sacred Black Feminine. She introduces readers to a Black Female God who is the complete opposite of the oppressive and controlling god fashioned and favored by White patriarchal Christianity.
Cleveland, a social psychologist, public theologian and activist, is also a former professor at Duke University’s Divinity School. She currently leads the Center for Justice and Renewal and Sacred Folk, an organization that “creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation.”
Managing Editor Nicola A. Menzie spoke with Cleveland about God Is a Black Woman during a March 2022 live interview. The excerpted transcript below has bee edited for clarity. Watch the video or listen to the podcast to experience the entire, unedited conversation.