A Digital Ethnography of Black Millennial Christianity

“… in faith formation can more effectively serve the growing population of black millennials in their congregations and throughout North America. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Erika Gault University of Arizona Contact Me

About this first book grant for scholars of color

The pervasive influence of hip hop on Christian black millennials, provides a rich context for examining religious life beyond the Black Church. This project is a digital ethnography of how doing hip hop informs what it means to be Christian for a number of black millennials. I am currently conducting interviews of prominent Christian black millennial hip hop artists, music producers, and pastors and participant observations of Christian open mics, rap concerts and youth conferences. A qualitative content analysis of online profiles, posts and offline textual reads of song lyrics, and black millennial rappers’ autobiographies is used to identify the most salient themes in black Christian millennial beliefs and practices. Online tools like Socioviz and Graph API Explorer are used to conduct data scraps spanning two year’s worth of social media content created, liked, shared or commented on by self-identified Christian black millennials.

The final book provides an ‘internet-related’ journey through the religious world of Christian black millennials. It offers an ethnography of Christian black millennials from several vantage points (i.e. blogging, spoken word performances, rap concerts, meme-sharing, etc.). Initial findings suggest a contentious engagement with white evangelicanism and financial ventures (i.e. performance venue, obtaining social media sponsorships, record label creation, etc.) that offer greater religious autonomy from the Black Church. The book also discusses the role social-temporal spaces (brief but meaningful sites online and in-person for Christian engagement) have had in allowing Christian black millennials to rethink the nature of the 'sacred' and in redeveloping traditional black church. Given the breadth of data used in compiling this multi-site study, both online and offline, it offers a national context in which to understand black millennial Christianity beyond the Black Church.