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date: 25 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World (1829), David Walker explores how religion, particularly Christianity, and politics established the philosophical and moral reasons that were used by America to justify and condone slavery and beliefs in black inferiority. He appeals to his readers to take seriously black humanity and the epistemic viability of discourses from behind the veil of blackness. This appeal is linked to the so-called emancipatory reason, which is embedded in nineteenth- and twentieth-century discourse on the problem of blackness within black liberation thought as well as black liberation theology and womanist theology. By appealing to the acceptable epistemic resources of his historical moment, primarily the Bible, Walker bolsters his argument with reasons that were universal and widely accepted. Drawing on Walker’s Appeal, this essay examines four philosophical motifs that resurface in black theology of liberation and their relation to how African American religious thinkers imagine, implicitly or otherwise, reason and rationality. It first considers reason in relation to Western philosophy and black theology before turning to a discussion of the problem of blackness as an epistemic resource in black theology.

Keywords: David Walker, slavery, blackness, emancipatory reason, black liberation theology, black theology, epistemic resources, rationality, Western philosophy, Christianity

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