Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Emily Raboteau

Emily Raboteau's new book is Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora.

From her Q & A with Mindy Farabee for The Daily Beast:

You write a lot about the historical link African-Americans felt with Jews of the biblical exodus. How does this concept of Zion resonate today?

Barack Obama used the Zion metaphor in the 2008 election, in particular when speaking to faith-based groups. He configured himself as Joshua, who in the biblical story was the one who led the Israelites into the promised land, not Moses, who never made it there himself. That was Obama’s way of acknowledging that he stood on the shoulders of Martin Luther King, who was a sort of Moses figure, and how much he owed to history of civil rights on his path to the presidency.

But there’s another thought I’ll add to contemporary uses of the metaphor. I was disturbed towards the end of my journey to find that message of the black church in many ways feels like it’s transformed since the era of civil rights, where Zion was used as a metaphor for freedom, to one where Zion is often used as a metaphor for capital—or rather where freedom equals capital. We hear this in the prosperity gospel of extremely popular televangelist preachers in the black evangelical tradition, though it’s not only a black tradition. The preacher I became obsessed with was Creflo Dollar, though there are others. T.D. Jakes is another. When they talk about the promised land, they talk about it being a condition of freedom from debt and of ownership, a nice car, a nice home. Initially, I felt like it was a really crass transformation. But then I had to question, what is...[read on]
Visit Emily Raboteau's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Searching for Zion.

The Page 99 Test: Searching for Zion.

--Marshal Zeringue