Robyn
Henderson-Espinoza

Details

Biography
Topics
Biracial, Multiracial Identity
Civil Rights Movement
Human Rights
Latinxs
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Multiculturalism
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Religion/Theology/Spirituality
Storytelling
White Privilege
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD, is a Transqueer Latinx activist scholar. Their dynamic and inspiring presentations explore the Intersections of queer justice and anti-racism, dismantling white supremacy and displacing whiteness, gender justice as human rights work, and bridging differences within our communities, campuses and churches.
Whether speaking to universities, communities, writing for HuffPost or Religion Dispatches, Dr. Robyn uses tools learned in both the academy and activism to stand in the hybrid space of higher education, communities, and movements for justice, curating activist scholarship with deep intention of bridging with difference.
Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist scholar and theologian to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns. Robyn sees this work as a life-orienting vocation, deeply committed to translating theory to practice, and embedded in re-imagining our moral horizon to one which privileges a politics of radical difference.
Knowing intimately that the borderlands are a place of learning and growth, Robyn draws on their identity and heritage in everything that they do. From doubt to divine and everywhere in between, their call as an activist scholar demands the vision to disrupt hegemony and colonialist structures of multi-layered oppressions. This work is important to Dr. Robyn because their own life has been lived with the ongoing challenge to be grounded in the center of their own difference as a non-binary Trans mixed-raced Latinx. This has required the thoughtful intention of bridging with their white ancestors and Mexican ancestors and with those in the queer community. As a result, their life’s vocation is one that is committed to the deep relationality of bridging with difference.
Robyn is currently at work on the forthcoming book, Activist Theology: Recognizing the Prophetic Edge in the Streets. Trained as an interdiscipilnary scholar, they are the founder of the Activist Theology Project, incubating sustainable change for social healing. They are also a Visiting Scholar at the Vanderbilt University Divinity School . Robyn was named one of 10 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2018 by Center for American Progress.
 
Testimonials
“Dr. Robyn’s deeply contextual, embodied work as an activist theologian brought necessary depth to our conference. As a panelist for “Bridging Communities: Faith-Based Leadership,” Dr. Robyn’s engaging humor and rigorous imagination expanded the conversation, calling the audience to “hold curiosity for borderlands as places to sit rather than bridges to be crossed.” Dr. Robyn’s attention to intersectional liberation and thoughtful engagement across faith traditions was instrumental, and the panel was consistently ranked a conference highlight in our post-conference survey.”
- Andrew An Westover, Programming Chair, Pan-Harvard LGBTQ Conference 2018

"Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza brings insight, compassion, and a remarkable ability to connect with students.  Dr. Henderson-Espinoza engages the audience with keen intelligence and a candid, compassionate dialogue that challenges concepts of social justice and human rights work."
- Mark Rasdorf, Associate Director, LGBT Resource Office, East Carolina University, Greenville NC

“Robyn brings dynamic, prophetic possibilities to life, whether in an academic lecture, a blog post, or from a protest megaphone. They bring a unique blend: grounded, activist-informed, and community-engaged human, who is deeply philosophical and theological. They weave humor, story-telling, passion, and personal vulnerabilities with analytical critique and lived practice to imagine new ways of being and becoming in the world that dismantle white supremacy and liberate those most oppressed.”
- Lyndsey Godwin Assistant Director, Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality, Vanderbilt Divinity School
“As this year's Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium unfolded the emerging meaning of "Trans,"  we enjoyed as featured guest Robyn Henderson-Espinoza.  Their contribution of opening keynote address one day, and public interview the next was a dazzling gift of intellectual depth and imaginative creativity, and generous conversational engagement. Dr. Robyn left us not just aglow with edgy insight but provoked to fresh action.”
- Catherine Keller, George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology,  Drew University, Graduate Division of Religion
“As a scholar, writer, and speaker, Robyn is laying the foundation for an Activist Theology that must accompany today’s movements for justice, if we’re to sustain ourselves and each other long enough to realize a world in which individual and collective liberation are possible. With wit and charm and a laser-like capacity to name bullshit, Robyn rejects the simple narratives that would have us turn “community” into a mere buzzword and spiritual practice into another consumerist fad. They possess that rare capacity to name complexity without being paralyzed by it, attacking white supremacy and its effects with a ferocious intelligence while continuing to expand who’s at the table and to work across difference, and rejecting bad theology while lifting up the radical principles that underpin history’s most powerful wisdom teachings and religious texts. For anyone interested in liberation theology and deep community building, their teachings are mandatory listening.”
- Lennon Flowers, founder of The Dinner Party
"The work of Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza is important not just to theologians or clergy, but to anyone who desires to understand the overlapping strands between theology, activism, and intersectional liberation. In a moment when Americans urgently need to consider not just what we believe, but what belief looks like when it’s out on the streets and in our communities, Dr. Robyn is a prophetic voice." 
- Kaya Oakes, College Writing Programs, UC Berkeley
"Wow, Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza's presentations deeply expanded my thinking, theological vocabulary, and understanding of theory-practice connections, and energized my spirit in ways I could not have imagined would be possible at an academic conference. In question and answer sessions, Dr. Robyn brought a model combination of candor, graciousness, attentiveness, and an invitation to think and dialogue with them in politicized, honest, theoretically generative exchanges."
- Rev. Traci West, PhD, Professor of Ethics and African American Studies, Drew University Theological School
Speeches
The Intersections of Queer Justice & Anti-Racism
This topic addresses the overwhelming logic of whiteness in our LGBTQ movements and helps us imagine a way to do queer justice work that amplifies those at the margins of the margins & displaces the logic of dominance.
 
Displacing Whiteness
This can be a 101, 201, 301 or more advanced workshop that helps folks begin talking about whiteness and the need to displace whiteness to helping, campuses, faith communities, and organizations to imagine restructuring their organizational frames by using anti-oppression methodologies and power analysis.
 
Gender Justice as Human Rights Work
Important to gender justice is the need to examine the ways our religious discourse (theologies and ethics) stabilize gender into an antiquated gender binary. I help campuses and communities rethink our gender justice through story telling and helping folks use their imagination to connect our stories of gender and our expressions to a larger human rights framework.
 
Constellations of Difference: Rethinking Intersectionality
How do make sense with difference in today’s world? How do we bridge with the radical differences that we encounter in our schools, communities, or churches? How do we explore our call to serve our communities when the world around us discourages us from bridging with the radical differences that we encounter on a daily basis? By coming to a better understanding of the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, citizenship, and other differences that we encounter, we can better be equipped to imagine a call to serve our communities from the place of bridging with radical difference. This workshop uses theories and methods of the philosophy of difference to rethink intersectionality.
 
Bridging with Difference
Using story-telling, how can we learn to bridge with the center of our own difference in an effort to build bridging with difference around us? How can bridging with difference be a catalyst for us to be unified in our deepest differences?
 
Dismantling the Parasitic Relationship Between Christian Supremacy and White Supremacy
Christian supremacy is the entanglement of multi-system oppressions that are most expressed through violence and domination and that appropriate the language, themes, social capital, and power of Christianity. White supremacy is the ideology that creates a cultural norm suggesting that whiteness is the dominant lens through which culture and society should engage. What has transpired throughout the past few centuries is a growing relationship between race and religion, culminating in a parasitic relationship that is shared between Christian Supremacy and White Supremacy. In order to imagine a world where we are all engaged in collective liberation, we must dismantle this relationship and help give birth to racial equity, class equity, and religious harmony.
Media
Activist Theology Trailer