On Profiling: A Humanist Interpretation of the “Fixing” of Black Bodies

  • Anthony B. Pinn
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)


In this chapter, I provide another example of how humanist principles serve to frame a hermenuetic, a way of interpreting and reading texts and events.2 I believe this exercise, begun in chapter five, is significant in that it provides a sense of an important dimension of humanism’ s function within African American communities. As opposed to simply thinking in terms of institutions and practices, this chapter, along with chapters five and seven, demonstrate that African Americans exercise humanist principles, as Black Christians use Christianity, also in the way they think about and interpret the world.


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  1. 4.
    Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press Inc., 1967), 60.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Concerning this point, Mary Douglas provides a helpful anthropological discussion of the body and its meaning. See: Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (New York: Routledge, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See Charles Long, Significations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986), chapter seven.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 25–26.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Ira Berlin et al., Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom (New York: The New Press/Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1998), 54–55.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    David A. Harris, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (New York: The New Press, 2002), 104.Google Scholar

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© Anthony B. Pinn 2004

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  • Anthony B. Pinn

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