Stand Your Ground: An Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas by Gina Messina

Over the last several months, our world has changed. We’ve witnessed great tragedy and there is so much to grieve. COVID-19 intruded upon our lives abruptly forcing the realization of our misplaced priorities. However, systemic racism has always been here, tightly woven into the fabric of our society; yet privileged voices have failed to answer the call for justice. 

As so many risk their health and safety to march for racial justice; to exclaim that Black Lives Matter and that George Floyd’s life was indeed sacred (as was Raychard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philandro Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner…#SayTheirNames), we must consider our own responsibility in perpetuating oppressive structures that condone the trend of public lynchings. 

Following the murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, Kelly Brown Douglas released her book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. In this critical work, she details the embedding of structural violence within the doctrine of American Exceptionalism and the deep rooted racial injustice that our nation was founded upon. She explains it was not a book that she wanted to write; rather, as a mother of an African American son, it is a book she was compelled to write. In doing so, Kelly has laid bare the sin of our nation. Five years later, her witness continues to demand our attention.

I reached out to Kelly and asked if she would be willing to talk with me about her book and she graciously agreed. Thus, for this post, I am sharing the wisdom of Kelly Brown Douglas, vlog style, knowing that, in this moment, it is her words that we all need to hear.  


Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, activist, and mom. She serves as Associate Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies at Ursuline College and is co-founder of She has written for the Huffington Post and is author or editor of five books including Women Religion Revolution. Messina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences and on national platforms including appearances on MSNBC, Tavis Smiley, NPR and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives of women around the globe. Messina is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing. Connect with her on Twitter @GMessinaPhD, Instagram: @GinaMessinaPhD, Facebook, and her website

Categories: Privilege, Race and Religion, Racism

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7 replies

  1. You are right: we must consider our own responsibility in perpetuating oppressive structures that condone the trend of public lynchings. … Thank you for this post… I am still trying to digest this latest monstrosity. I am stuck in the image of a human being having the breath crushed out of him while people stood there doing nothing but filming “the event”….. I really am horror stricken. How is it possible that no one did NOTHING??????


  2. Thanks. She’s very wise. I knew this already.


  3. She is a wise woman. Gina, I enjoyed this immensely . Thank you for letting join in.


  4. Thank you both!


  5. Thank you for sharing this interview it needs to be heard over all the nations here in this country and all over the world.


  6. Wow KBD is so lively and clear in her vision. I cried when she spoke about mother’s and their sons. Laying bear realities indeed! Long past due. Thank you for bringing these words to us.


  7. Wiping away the tears. Thank you, Gina. The impassioned words of a mother. A son begging for his life and calling out for his mother. Momma Mary. The ancestors. The air around me crackles with the energy of KBD’s wise words. It is time. It is time. Time for the people in power to hear the cries of many. Black. Indigenous. Every Body calls out for equality and equity.


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