Phillis Wheatley-Peters' Poetry and Life as a Critique of Interest-Convergence in the Phenomenon of White Christian Nationalism

Date
2023
Authors
Iverson, Louis E.
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Abstract

Phillis Wheatley-Peters' mastery of the word and grasp on Christian values were direct acts of resistance, proving that the African mind was brilliant and capable of being a good Christian, which, according to Biblical law, permits equality to all who comprehend. Although WheatleyPeters may have been gracious for her accomplishments, she was never granted permission to receive the fruits of her labor. Her enslavers, the Wheatleys, kept her enslaved until 1773, even after her poetry book had been published in London. The wealth of the Wheatley family was not inherited by Phillis, and she later passed on in her thirties due to poor living conditions and health complications she had had since being onboard the enslaved people's ship. In this thesis, I will analyze how Phillis Wheatley-Peters' poetry and life serve as an examination of Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell's idea of Interest Convergence in the phenomenon of how white Christian Nationalism has shaped the Black experience in America. Christianity has been used to assimilate Black Americans, making them more acceptable to white values. This same white-nationalist Christianity has taught Black enslaved peoples to be forgiving, docile, and obedient to their enslavers. These ideologies were rooted in the belief that the expansion of such practices was justified and inevitable by manifest destiny.

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Keywords
Black Lives Matter, Derek Bell, Interest Convergence, Phillis Wheatley-Peters, White Christian Nationalism, White Jesus
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Department
English