Dr. Kimberly D. Russaw to Speak During Huston-Tillotson University’s Twelfth Annual Bishop E.T. Dixon Lecture ‘What Shall We Tell our Sons and our Daughters?’
AUSTIN, TX (11.29.17) – Dr. Kimberly D. Russaw will address “What Shall We Tell our Sons and our Daughters?” during the Twelfth Annual Huston-Tillotson University Bishop E.T. Dixon Lecture. The Lecture will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the campus in the Agard-Lovinggood Auditorium, 900 Chicon Street.
Russaw shared that one challenge to the “Black Lives Matter!” initiative is the movement’s focus on Black males. While the 2013 vision of Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi of mobilizing a Black-centered response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, the #BLM movement morphed into a retort emphasizing the mistreatment of Black men by law officials. While communities are calling for the protection and sanctity of black, brown, and beige bodies in the face of the tragedies of Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Mike Brown, and others, the message seems coded with patri-centered overtones. Black MALE Lives Matter! When this sort of message takes root in the hearts and minds of its hearers, important members of the Black community are left out. With few exceptions, Black female lives are disregarded and devalued. When one element of a community is devalued the entire community suffers. What shall we tell our sons and our daughters?
This phenomenon of devaluing Black female lives may find support in our treatment of female lives in the texts we render sacred. Readers of the biblical text often read over the misuse of women and girls in their stories because “that’s just the way it was back then.” These same readers however, often champion Joseph when his brothers leave him in the pit or advocate for Isaac when his father sets out to slaughter him on a mountaintop. Moreover, these same readers are silent when Jephthah makes good on his promise to murder his daughter in Judges 11, and simply offer a non-committal shrug when Amnon rapes his sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13 because “that’s just the way it was back then.” A close read of these texts however reveals an intriguing pattern in the biblical text.
In “What Shall We Tell Our Sons and Our Daughters?” Russaw challenges conventional readings of the sacred text as it relates to the roles of women. She employs the tools of narrative criticism and feminist criticism to read the stories of Jephthah’s daughter and Tamar and consider how these narratives and their interpretations might impact modern society; our sons and our daughters. In her final move, she invites audiences to engage interactively to reflect upon the important question, “what ought be the response of our community in the lives of daughters?”
Russaw is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC where she blends intellectual rigor with an infectious passion for teaching. Russaw earned the Master of Divinity degree (Biblical Studies) from the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA), and the Master of Arts degree (Hebrew Bible) from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). When Russaw completed her doctorate in Religion at Vanderbilt University, she joined a select cadre of African American scholars who passionately teach the next generation of Christian leaders at our seminaries and universities. Her research interests include: The Pentateuch; Interpretive Methods; Women in the Biblical World; Feminist and Womanist Biblical Interpretation; Bible and Culture; Religion and Culture; and Ancient Near Eastern Literature. Russaw is the author of Daughters in the Hebrew Bible (Fortress Press, 2018).
Born in Chicago, Russaw is a graduate of Spelman College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a Management and Organization minor. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree (Marketing) from
Clark-Atlanta University, which prepared her for a successful career in consumer marketing at Fortune 500 companies such as Nabisco and The Coca-Cola Company. Russaw has taught along the educational continuum in both undergraduate and graduate environments. She has also guest lecturer in classrooms across the country.
Recently named one of “Six Black Women at the Center of Gravity in Theological Education” by NBCNews.com, Russaw is an ordained itinerate elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and holds membership in many professional organizations including the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the National Black MBA Association.
Dixon, for which the lecture is named, is one of two HT graduates to receive “bishop” status. He graduated magna cum laude from what was Samuel Huston College in 1943 before earning a degree from Drew Theological Seminary. He served the church and community in numerous positions while establishing innovative programs before and after becoming president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. He retired in 1992 and died in 1996. Huston-Tillotson is affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and offers a minor in religious studies.
Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Rev. Donald E. Brewington, University Chaplain, 512.505.3054, or [email protected]. Parking available on Chalmers Avenue.