Mission & Vision


The Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS) advances research, education and public engagement at the nexus of religion, race and sexuality, in general, but with a particular focus on black communities, both in the United States and the wider African Diaspora.


As signaled in its name — the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS) — CARSS understands its work as situated at the intersections of religion, race and sexuality.
African American Religion: CARSS recognizes the centrality of Christian churches in shaping public conversations in the United States, and the center’s history reflects the prominence of churches in American life, and within black communities.  However, CARSS research and program agenda attends to the rich diversity of religious and spiritual communities, ideas, institutions, and practices that have shaped the past and continue to animate the social and cultural landscape of black communities in the twenty first century.
Sexual Politics: CARSS begins its work with the assumption that discussions of gender and sexuality are necessarily linked, both when considering the cultural politics that organize that black social and religious life and in accounting for the multiple ways in which black people participate in larger social debates on issues that range from marriage equality and mass incarceration to reproductive justice and economic inequality.
Social Justice: In addition to developing research, educational and public engagement initiatives that examine the sexual politics that adhere in black religious and cultural life, CARSS is concerned with advancing programs that takes serious the constraints and possibilities associated with the intersection of scholarship and activism, as well as the forms of knowledge that emerge therein.  Moreover, CARSS conceives of the study of religion and sexual politics through an intersectional lens concerned with an eye toward understanding how religion, race and sexuality together inform the conditions, limits, and opportunities of struggles for civil rights and social justice in the twenty-first century.
In this regard, CARSS serves as a leading intellectual space to:

  • Enliven academic and public conversations about a host of issues attendant to the intersections of religion and sexual politics within African American culture.
  • Examine the cultural and political significance of African American religion in the public sphere.
  • Bring to bear scholarly resources on contemporary public deliberations concerning the relationship between religion, race, and sexuality in American public life.
  • Serve as a capacity-building resource for a range of stakeholders, within and beyond the Academy, whose work engages black religious and civic institutions and the communities they serve.