Competing voices within spiritual groups help to create boundaries of belonging within and beyond the group by articulating notions of identity and meaning that are based in history, myth and gender, among many other factors. Hebah Farrag’s article, “The Spirit in Black Lives Matter: New Spiritual Community in Black Radical Organizing,” in Transition, Issue 125, 2017, pp. 76-88, Published by Indiana University Press, focuses on locating these competing voices in the African American community following the emergence of the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement.
This article seeks to bring to light the ancestral spiritual practices nestled within a political movement. It also highlights the process in which the creation of spiritual community has been often missed or ignored in lieu of a focus on violence and dissent. BLM chapters and affiliated groups have employed a variety of spiritual practices to generate meaning, heal trauma, combat burnout and encourage sustainability in their organizations. This along side with a notion called “radical inclusion,” has centered marginalized groups within the movement and has worked to disrupt a legacy of Black leadership that is largely hetero-normative and almost exclusively male. This article also seeks to bring to life African traditional beliefs and other spirit focused practices used by BLM to heal the sickness of violence ravaging Black Americans.
Hebah Farrag is the assistant director of research of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.