Dr. (William Augustus) Jones, in his book, God in the ghetto, argues quite accurately that one’s theology, how I see God, determines one’s anthropology, how I see humans, and one’s anthropology then determines one’s sociology, how I order my society.
Now, the implications from the outside are obvious. If I see God as male, if I see God as white male, if I see God as superior, as God over us and not Immanuel, which means “God with us,” if I see God as mean, vengeful, authoritarian, sexist, or misogynist, then I see humans through that lens.
My theological lens shapes my anthropological lens. And as a result, white males are superior; all others are inferior.- Dr. Jeremiah Wright
Is there ever a better time to embrace my blackness? Some would and have cautioned me to slow my intentional broadcasting of my blackness. I then caution them that my blackness in no way sidelines my understanding and love for diversity. It is within diversity where honest dialog can transform a community. True informed dialog will prove useless if all parties are unwilling to be honest to themselves or have a lack of personal introspection.
It is James Baldwin that shapes my thinking when the topic of diversity in on the table. His ability to speak with such honesty about the plight of black folks in America but yet move within many white circles was epic. He never coward away from an issue because of it would prove uncomfortable for his audience. Though he spoke with an unwavering intent about his love for the black community he still had a love for diversity. It is uncommon today, especially in the church, to see folks who can make this type of transcendence.
Many times a false theological approach is used when the topic of race comes to the table. The attempt is to draw attention away from hard topics instead of drawing them to it. In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King says,
“So we have come today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
That is what the black church has to do many times in order to spark change in evangelical circles; they have to incite and infuse the issue into the masses by all means that are viable. The evangelical circles many times dismiss this as false doctrine and then cover it with focus on pseudo- “Jesus talk.” In a bigger scheme of things the Jesus talk would be warranted, -salvifically- but in this case it is more of a smokescreen-a intentional practice to draw the attention away from any issues.
The value of black skin is minimized in society so the need to address any concerns about black skin becomes good missional talk but bad practical methodology. So you get evangelical circles that will provide missional efforts to the continent of Africa but have turned a blind eye to the African descendants (blacks in America) around the corner from their church. This is problematic and highlights how our perspectives guide our engagements with others.