In this timely, much-needed book, theologian, social psychologist, and activist Christena Cleveland recounts her personal journey to dismantle the cultural “whitemalegod” and uncover the Sacred Black Feminine, introducing a Black Female God who imbues us with hope, healing, and liberating presence.
For years, Christena Cleveland spoke about racial reconciliation to congregations, justice organizations, and colleges. But she increasingly felt she could no longer trust in the God she’d been implicitly taught to worship—a white male God who preferentially empowered white men despite his claim to love all people. A God who clearly did not relate to, advocate for, or affirm a Black woman like Christena.
Her crisis of faith sent her on an intellectual and spiritual journey through history and across France, on a 400-mile walking pilgrimage to the ancient shrines of Black Madonnas to find healing in the Sacred Black Feminine. God Is a Black Woman is the chronicle of her liberating transformation and a critique of a society shaped by white patriarchal Christianity and culture. Christena reveals how America’s collective idea of God as a white man has perpetuated hurt, hopelessness, and racial and gender oppression. Integrating her powerful personal story, womanist ideology, as well as theological, historical, and social science research, she invites us to take seriously the truth that God is not white nor male and gives us a new and hopeful path for connecting with the divine and honoring the sacredness of all Black people.
About the Author
Christena Cleveland Ph.D. is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal as well as its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation. An award-winning researcher and. A former professor at Duke University’s Divinity School, Christena’s work has appeared in magazines ranging from Essence to Christianity Today. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
“The Black Madonna chose well when she picked Christena Cleveland to tell her story. This page-turner of a book will prove to be a classic on this often-ignored spiritual archetype. Thanks to Cleveland, the Black Madonna stands up and sings in these pages and comes to life anew.” — Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
“I read this book with my heart beating fast, my breath coming quickly, inhaling the fragrant liberation that Dr. Christena Cleveland delivers with picturesque narrative, psychological insight and theological imagination. She’s offering liberation to Black women like me and to all who would be free, delivering us to our better selves.” — Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, author of Fierce Love
“Cleveland pens a book that is a soul-satisfying read that surprised me with its candor and deft research. This book had me turning pages.” — Dr. Moya Bailey, author of Misogynoir Transformed
“God Is a Black Woman is at once challenging, revelatory and nourishing. It is akin to having a conversation with your smartest friend, the person who can make you think about something that seemed mundane in a whole new light.” — National Catholic Reporter
“Along with her intellect and scholarship, Cleveland brings to this book her embodiment and understanding of the Divine. …Cleveland’s prose, like Isabel Wilkerson’s, does a masterful job of simply relaying the author’s experiences to show how Whiteness again and again inserts itself into her search for the sacred Black feminine.” — Christian Century