I have long been a fan of Kelly Brown Douglas ever since my introduction to her while reading her seminal treatise against the hegemonic discourse in the Heterosexist Black Christian tradition entitled, Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective. After reading this first academic work, I noted to a professor that “this book has freed me. I feel more confidence in my ability and commitment to being fully and intentionally myself.” With this in mind, I was excited when I walked into the bookstore and found a new book with her name on it. This book, entitled, What’s Faith Got to Do with It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls was written as Douglas sought to wrestle with the question presented by one of her students, “How can you, a black [sic] woman, possibly be Christian… when Christianity as often contributes to your oppression as a black [sic] and as a female.”
As she engages this question, Douglas does so by broadening the discourse beyond simply gender and racial terms and is intentional about being inclusive of sexuate realities within this dialog. Per her characteristic, methodical nature, Douglas systematically and meticulously builds her case about the realities of a platonic Christian tradition that seems to be an affront to authentic Christian religious expression and she indicts this tradition as a main culprit for the ways in which the Christian faith colludes with hegemonic power and resulted in the historic oppression of bodies, particularly Black bodies. Specifically, Douglas illumines the ways in which the American Christian tradition ostensibly condoned, if not actively participated in the lynching of Black bodies. According to Douglas, this is done because of the flesh versus spiritual dualism that is present within the platonic Christian faith tradition (as expressed in the Pauline epistles) that offers sacred canopy for the attacks on the bodies of a sexualized people.
As she begins to conclude her argument, Douglas does so offering solutions that she proposes will help reframe the flesh/spirit paradox and help the Black Christian faith tradition speak about their faith in more inclusive, egalitarian, and communal terms. The problem arises as Kelly Brown Douglas seeks to discuss Black(ness) in more inclusive, liberative terms. As a student of James Cone, Douglas struggles to discuss Blackness as something other than a racialized reality. Douglas does attempt to discuss the notion of ontological Blackness, that is, Blackness that is a state of being opposed to the hegemonic and oppressive forces of whiteness; however, her fluidity between these definitions exposes a lingering truth about the liberative theological discourse – the difficulty of engaging in liberative theological discourse that is inclusive while still maintaining the images, language, and concepts that are important to maintaining and affirming the agency of selfhood an oppressed community. Furthermore, as currently constructed, Blackness is framed in opposition to whiteness, which still utilizes racialized \
gtlanguage to discuss the complexities of oppression. This relationship precludes the other manifestation of oppression and serves to limit our discussion of oppression to chiefly, if not solely, racial terms. Douglas herself says, “It is important to move beyond the boundaries of race and gender to confront the issues that involve the life, dignity, and freedom of black [sic] women and men in particular and other humans in general.” Despite her willingness to do so, she unwittingly found herself mired in problematic language that has the possibility of reifying the oppressive, hegemonic delineations that we seek to overcome.
Future and current theologians must then grapple with the task of framing liberative discourse in ways that both affirm the lived experiences and historical realities of persons and communities while offering an inclusive framework and language. How can God be exclusively Black in a world where oppression is being framed along gender, sex, socio-economic, and sexuate terms. Are we to reframe Black(ness) as the sum total of all oppression, and if so what does this say to all the other ways in which persons are oppressed? What other language becomes possible in addressing the overarching principles and precepts of oppression while still acknowledging the particular nuances of oppression situated within specific contexts? One should read Douglas’s What’s Faith Got to Do with It? with these questions in mind, and take seriously Douglas’s challenge to “move beyond the boundaries of race and gender.” One should also read this treatise mindful that this seeks not to be a final volume in the ever-increasing liberative anthology; rather, this work simply seeks to add more questions in order to help move the dialogue forward.
 Kelly Brown Douglas. What’s Faith Got to Do with It?: Black Bodies/Christian Souls (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005), xi.
 Ibid., 210.