Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black: Structure, Racism and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience

“… the impact of systemic racism on the lived experience of African-American Catholics as a minority both in society and in their religious tradition. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Tia Noelle Pratt St. Joseph's University Contact Me

About this award

This question is essential to the Church in North America because it addresses the impact of systemic racism on the lived experience of African-American Catholics as a minority both in society and in their religious tradition. The intersection of race and religion is a largely untold story in sociology. While improvements have been made is this area (Emerson, Korver-Glenn, and Douds 2015), very little of that work involves Catholics. This project establishes the importance of Black Catholics in larger academic and public discourse on race by analyzing how systemic racism in the Catholic Church has resulted in the small number of African-American Catholics – and especially African-American Catholics in positons of Church leadership. Using ethnographic fieldwork, this project articulates how African-American Catholics use music and preaching to create a distinct cultural experience in liturgy. Finally, this project, Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black: Structure, Racism, and Identity in the African-American Catholic incorporates in-depth interviews to discuss how the long arc of systemic racism continues to impact African-American Catholics’ experience through the negotiation of liturgical and physical space as seen in church closings and parish reorganizations.