My Black Rage Sensibility

(This is part of a larger work entitled, “Perspectives of a Black Rage Sensibility: (Reshaping) God Through Spaces of Blackness”)

Albert Pero classifies blackness or the black experience as “a certain dark joy” that “celebrates the triumph of human beings over a social order which would degrade.” [1] This very same “dark joy” fuels my own Black Rage. My reaction of a lifelong struggle to be recognized; my Black Rage sensibility governs every facet of my life. I search daily to find sectors of safety.  My Black Rage sensibility carries the weight of waking up as the face of America’s perceived problem and waking up as a Christian with the “absurdity of a people who claimed to be Christian” but live in proverbial contradiction.[2]  When the black body is assumed as a prescribed conclusion of criminality and ungodliness, the quiet assent of racism profoundly sanctions the annihilation of the black body and safety is a major concern at all times. For others and myself, Black Rage, ultimately, becomes a strategic defense mechanism against human fears that have been weaponized by the media. In response, anyone who loves the black body becomes anti-American, which is merely, anti-white. This reaction results in further marginalization efforts and consent to remove the presence of black bodies.

Being a student at a Lutheran seminary and simultaneously being a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America prompts me to consider Black Rage in a context that is not filled visibly with black bodies. The constant need to reaffirm my blackness perpetually lives in the front of my mind. In this context, I did not have the ease of familiarity, but rather the brisk interplay of racism that goes undetected. I heard the quarantined compliments of how intelligent I am, and the over the top appreciation for my articulation, that are part of the complex-simplicity that monopolized many conversations. Black Rage cannot be expressed in my life without the awareness that the Black body was infiltrating a sacred space of the church, an official place that some may have seen as off limits; a place where fear of difference and diversity appear as negative quantifiers. I was becoming a candidate for Lutheran orders, in a denomination least integrated in the South and in the Midwest.

The impression of Black fear is not one that is placed in Black bodies, but a fear that it thrust upon Black bodies. This constant Black fear that in some fashion or form, Black bodies will enter into this designated white spaces. This is the fear of the “undesirable strangers” or “unloved strangers,” who enter into places their privilege has not been availed to them.[3] This ill-informed identifier, instantly places Black bodies in danger. James Baldwin’s use of the “unloved stranger” illuminates the hatred that is levied on the backs of Black bodies in America.[4] He believes that all Blacks experience this “paradoxical adjustment” where we must come to grips with the unalienable fact that we are dark, dangerous and unloved strangers –simply niggers.[5] For Blacks, this is not a personal identifier, but denotes his perception of what he believes white people perceive, when Black people enter into sacred white spaces. As these “undesirable strangers,” Blacks are brutalized at the hands of the very people who are charged to protect and serve citizens. Joy DeGruy explains that the impact of extreme racial systems have left a mark on the minds of Blacks as well as whites. She denotes that these racist power structures have constrained the life of Black folks with little “time to catch our collective breath.”[6] Categorically, an intrusion of the “undesirable stranger” in the sacred white space alerts fear both in the stranger and the entered communal space, that “makes for a dangerous situation because white people are compelled, by divine law nonetheless, to protect their space from intruders.” [7] Black fear is the direct result of a societal racial lens that equates Black with crime. Khalil Gibran Muhammed accentuates this point:

For white Americans of every ideological stripe—from radical southern racists to northern progressives—African American criminality became one of the most widely accepted bases for justifying prejudicial thinking, discriminatory treatment, and/or acceptance of racial violence as an instrument of public safety.[8]

Kelly Brown Douglas equates this criminalization of Blacks with a heighten sense of awareness that for the American whites, the Black body does not have the “presumption of innocence” that is afforded to whites. [9] Black fear is a learned and manufactured emotion that serves as another example of the numerous ways that the Black body is continually is danger.

 

[1] Albert Pero. “Black, Lutheran, and American,” Theology and the Black Experience: The Lutheran Heritage Interpreted by African and African-American Theologians, Edited by Alberto Pero and Ambrose Moyo, Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1988, 161.

[2] Otis Moss III, Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair, Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2015.,23.

[3] See footnote 161

[4] Ibid., Baldwin, Notes of Native Son,42-43.

[5] Ibid.,42.

[6] Ibid., DeGruy , 107-108.

[7]In a previous paper, Reflective Thoughts On Kelly Brown Douglas’ “Stand Your Ground,” I go into more detail about this subject.  Kelly Brown Douglas, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, New York: Orbis Books, 2015.

[8] Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.,4.

[9] Ibid., 86.

 

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James Baldwin’s Black Rage in “The Fire Next Time”

(This is part of a larger work entitled, “Perspectives of a Black Rage Sensibility: (Reshaping) God Through Spaces of Blackness”

Throughout his writings, Baldwin wrestles with the essence of Black Rage: a rage that engulfs the life of black people, trapped in an endless cycle of injustice, pressing to survive the vicious trials of life. Baldwin’s statement “to be a Negro in this country and relatively conscious, is to be in rage all the time” serves as a defining epitaph for Black Rage.[1] Pamela Lightsey notes that Baldwin’s explication of Black Rage was not limited to erroneous slander, deemed as an “irrational outburst.”[2] His explication was a “passionate response to the evil of racism imposed” upon the black community.[3]  Baldwin’s “blackness” can be understood as an intertwining of how Black Rage influenced Baldwin’s relationship with God and humanity.[4]

 James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time is a transcending essay that captures in paralyzing clarity, the experience of a young black man navigating the racist terrain of America. Exploring black people’s fear, pain and rage in mesmerizing detail, Baldwin, relocates the reader into a foreign reality –the world of the Negro in America, past and present. Baldwin challenges white Americans with a first-hand perspective of black males in the ghetto and, simultaneously, celebrates the Black community. His quest was to find out what made Black males so attentive to the Nation of Islam.[5] While writing this essay, he discovered the topic was richer and deeper than he first imagined. He never turned it into the editor of the Jewish magazine, who had hired him to write the story.

The book starts with a compelling and thought provoking letter to his nephew, My Dungeon Shook, which gives poignant instruction to his nephew on how to negotiate through the streets of Harlem, as a Black male, in the midst of a people who present a false Christianity.[6] The penetrating critiques of America opined in almost every sentence phrased with preciseness and rage present a pedagogical protest for his nephew. Baldwin’s overarching theme resonates in his words to his nephew, “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger.”[7] Baldwin is very intentional about highlighting the texture and color of his nephew’s skin while giving him a preview of his temperament. [8] His nephew’s socially- constructed black body and political identity will serve as a stark indicator that his nephew “is” in danger. He cannot misplace his self-awareness in the white world, yet he cannot misplace his own true dignity. Baldwin’s insistence that his nephew identify with his blackness is utmost.  Theologian John Perkinson forms this experience as a radical rethinking of the black body. Purposely, he places all white bodies in the thralls of the lived history (a mythic fantasy) of white supremacy. He intentionally demarcates whiteness as a “structure of violence and a significance of injustice.”[9] Perkinson asserts that “the black body as a ‘possibility of theophany’ would place the white body as “a question of exorcism.”[10] He implies that the white body stands in need of divine healing or exorcism in order to be delivered from its own racism. In this assessment, the black body personifies God. Thus, confronting white people with a specificity of color and creed. The black body confronts white people with their sin before God.  For Baldwin, his own father’s lack of awareness of the black body politic, pushed him into wanting to be “so holy,” because Godliness provided a false invitation into whiteness.[11] Making holiness synonymous with whiteness was the fallacy Baldwin dismisses, while wrestling through life in the black experience. Ultimately, the commingling of whiteness with godly normatives would be Baldwin’s wrestling partners the rest of his life.

The Black Rage that Baldwin demonstrates to his nephew is one soaked in love with a governing sense of black pride, a pride that is timelessly connected to the black community. Baldwin’s unique perspective is guided by a strong principle of love.  A love that he describes:

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace—not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth. [12]

 

Baldwin may appear to link his father’s false sense of Christianity with a pseudo-pursuit of holiness. However, looking deeply, his understanding and pursuit of love is profoundly Christian. Professor Clarence Hardy supposes that Baldwin’s idea of love is the result of self-examination. Hardy posits that Baldwin’s self-awareness caused love to flourish and this love becomes “the principal site of transformation and the self-actualization.”[13] Could this self-affirming love be similar to the Christian process of discernment? Baldwin is clear with his nephew that his mere presence is a salvific happening; his life –a hope, which love must prevail. Baldwin admonishes,

There is no reason for you to be like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you.  The really terrible thing…is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For those innocent people have no other hope.[14]

The assertion that hope, reconciliation, and love rest in the hands of the black community is a radical statement of purpose and identity. In Baldwin’s perspective, humanity is equipped with the responsibility for their own soul’s salvation. He states that humanity is responsible, “to expand and transform God’s nature.” [15] Baldwin is unapologetic about this particular affirming of the necessity of black people acting as the redeeming factor in the lives of whites. The impact of oppressed people’s presence and their being creates favorable opportunities for the oppressors to change. Baldwin is transparent with his nephew about the cruel treatment that he will endure but exudes a reconciliatory posture.[16] Though Baldwin does not proclaim that this is an authentic Christian value, his childish hope for/in humanity compels him to reluctantly trust in a governing love.

The message that Baldwin is trying to convey to his nephew is ultimately woven in throngs of suffering. Baldwin’s interest in suffering is connected to a belief that through such an act one would/could “discover what they really lived by,” indicating that “suffering holds purpose even if God does not.”[17] Baldwin is constructing an intricate theology of a redemptive suffering that, hopefully, forces the oppressors to change. In his critique of Anthony Pinn’s Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology, Dwight Hopkins suggest that redemptive suffering can never be positive or fruitful for African-Americans.[18] Hopkins furthermore confirms that redemptive suffering, directly or indirectly, “implies God sanctions suffering, relieving the oppressors from accountability…”[19] In the closing words to his nephew, Baldwin says, “…then we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”[20] Through Baldwin’s Black Rage, his interpretive lens perceives God differently than his father. God is an active presence, but only in the sense that humanity (in this case his nephew) can convey that presence. The “so holy” aspect of divinity that is sought by Baldwin’s father is not the same “so holy” that Baldwin is conveying to his nephew. The Black Rage that ignites Baldwin is displayed as he tries to “write” the wrongs that may have the probability of killing his nephew. Baldwin’s Black Rage has activated a new sense of God that relocates suffering as a godly imperative.

[1] James Baldwin, “The Negro Role in American Culture,” Negro Digest, March 1962.

[2]Pamela Lightsey, Our Lives Matter, Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2015.,56.

[3] Ibid.

[4] James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, First Vintage International: New York, 1962 The capitalization of G or lack thereof, is intentional throughout the paper. The thought is to try to convey the difference of expression in a god that is expressed in Baldwin’s concept versus a Christian example of God. The writer has tried to make the differences noticeable through the paper.

[5] The Nation of Islam was a Black Nationalist group that followed the teaching of Elijah Muhammad. The influence that Elijah Muhammed garnered from 1950 to the late 1960’s was unprecedented in the black community. Drawing from an early predecessor, he highlighted a separatist agenda that called for blacks to be given parts of America to live apart from whites.

[6] Ibid., Baldwin, Fire, 3-10.

[7].Ibid.,4.

[8] Ibid.,3.

[9] John Perkinson, White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity, New York: Palgrave MacMillian, 2004.,150.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Baldwin accuses his father of trying to be “so holy” not as an attempt to be like God but as an alarming attempt to be white. Though his skin is dark like Baldwin and his nephew, Baldwin’s father is trying to escape the reality of being black in America. Baldwin is making a concerted effort to address this experience to his nephew. Ibid.,4. This person Baldwin references was Baldwin’s adoptive father. But, he lived his life trying to find the approval of his stepfather. Baldwin was born after his mother, Emma Berdis Jones left his biological father because of his drug abuse. Emma Jones, who never would tell her son the identity of his father. James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in Harlem Hospital. In James’s third year, his mother married the Reverend David Baldwin, a Pentecost preacher, who legally adopted James, and moved the family to Harlem.

[12] Ibid., Baldwin, Fire, 95.

[13] Clarence Hardy III, James Baldwin’s God: sex, hope and crisis in black holiness culture, Knoxville: Tennessee Press, 2003.,49

[14] Ibid.,8. This may be “innocent privilege” that Bruggemann asserts in his assessment of Coates. (See footnote 33)

[15] James Baldwin, The Price of the Ticket, New York: St. Martin’s Marek,1985.,441. Clarence Hardy uses this exact quote to highlight the same frame of thought. Ibid.,Hardy.,13.

[16] Though Baldwin seeks such grand reconciliation he is not advocating for a complete surrendering or overhaul to whiteness. Baldwin poses a very stringent question: “Do I really want to be integrated in to a burning house?” Ibid., Baldwin, Fire,94. What he is proposing is that black folks consider whether it is feasible to be productive in an environment that does not even consider one’s self to be human.  He is trying to convey this message to his nephew in a wise manner, while getting his point across with assuredness. Baldwin is also trying to get his nephew to embrace his blackness unconditionally, yet safely. This is a strange dynamic that has to be worked out through the entirety of Baldwin’s writings. It is seen as Baldwin writes to his nephew. It is also visible in many other works as well. Baldwin presents a high, functional level of love. What is deemed the “Negro problem” is not moved by love but by white people’s resentment of being judged by those who they see on a lower status. Ibid., 95. Baldwin is walking a very slim, but necessary, tightrope with his nephew. On one hand he is insisting that he becomes a savior for white people by virtue of his social presence, but on the other he is making sure that he does not lose his identity with the black experience.

[17] Ibid., Hardy,48.

[18] Dwight Hopkins, “Reviewed Work: Why Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology. by Anthony B. Pinn.” Review by: Dwight N. Hopkins. African American Review, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 514-516, Indiana State University. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3042581

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., Baldwin Fire, 10

 

 

Black Rage

This is part of a larger work entitled, “Perspectives of a Black Rage Sensibility: (Reshaping) God Through Spaces of Blackness”

I came into a STM (Master of Sacred Theology) program at a Lutheran seminary in that crucible where the disparity between Black America and the America posited by white folks. I came, again, into the dialogue around hatred and race as the seminary struggled to adequately face the death of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and the Charleston Nine. The reflections of this thesis is tattooed on the backs of black bodies in every town in “these yet to be united states of america.”[1] Here begins my fresh perspective of addressing hatred in the face of the Cross.

Imagine being one of seven black students, at a major university, with a current student body of over 40,000 students.  Furthermore, envision attending a philosophy class, where your professor asks all the students to bring in a picture of Jesus to the next class. Finally, on the day of the class, all of the pictures are gathered, and discussed from the perspective of the professor. Most of the pictures are of a nicely manicured white, Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes made popular by Warner Sallman.[2] This Jesus is striking a pose with a full set of beautiful teeth and a look of perfection. But, within the stack of pictures there arises a photo of the mangled black face of Emmitt Till. A face that looks as if all of hell has been unleashed upon it; a face so distorted that it would be hard to notice that it was the face of a human – (head swollen five times its size, tongue out of his mouth from being choked so hard, eyes out of socket, skull split in two from the blade of an axe.)[3] After viewing the picture, the professor asked, “What the hell is this?” The black student responds, “This is what God looks like when he dares to offend white folk!”[4] This narrative isolates, while pinpointing, the vast differences in the ways Jesus is viewed across the black community. When such evil is perpetrated against black bodies, Jesus cannot be viewed through a lens of whiteness.

The need for a Jesus that embodies the pain of an oppressed people is warranted. Albert Cleage expressed this view in the book The Black Messiah, which depicted Jesus as a black revolutionary leader that critically engaged oppressed black people.[5] The by-product of such pain and torture is beheld in Black Rage. Black Rage is distinct from simple rage. Simple rage is compounded by the experience of being black and therefore, the socially acceptable target of enacted hatred. The full possession of one’s blackness thickens the impact of the experience of rage. Even so, blackness simultaneously critiques and identifies the distinguishing factors of trauma. James Cone expresses the need to emphasize the black component of one’s experience in his naming of Black Theology of Liberation.[6] Cone states that he was black before he was a theologian.[7] Cone asserts, “My identity with blackness…controls the investigation.”[8] The reality of Cone’s and others’ black experience augments the overall perception of any emotive concept. Black is not just a color or racial construct. Black is a rigid identity of faith where an embodied rage seeks to understand and interpret God. This identification is similar to Cone’s Black Theology of Liberation where he deliberately focuses on a one-sided view of Jesus. He theologizes upon the injustice done to the black community equating the suffering of blacks with the suffering of Jesus.

Cone’s and Dr. Carter’s depiction of Jesus reinforces a stagnated hope that has plagued the lives of black folks.[9] Even in the midst of massive social chaos, black folks were able to persist in their faith in God. Nonetheless, a history of heinous acts perpetuated upon the black community impacted their faith –Black people endured such hate and still remained able to say there is a loving God. How does a loving God allow such evil to dismantle a particular group of people? These are questions and thoughts that many black Christians and theologians have wrestled with for years.

Black Rage emerged as a social strategy for progress. Black Rage is a catalytic force that helped produce a creative response to terror without reciprocating the level of hatred that was perpetrated upon their bodies. Black Rage, the outcry of people rendered legally and socially invisible, searching for peace in a nation that designated them as the “other.” As the culture of the black community developed over the years from enslavement, to Emancipation, to reconstruction, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement and the backlash of shootings of Boyd, Rice, Martin, Scott, etc., so did the Black community’s understanding and articulation of God. Within those decades and decades of growth and development, the impact of Black Rage surfaced in the black body in many ways: church, jobs, education and imprisonment. The concern of this work is to describe and analyze how Black Rage has shaped how the black community sees God.[10] The thesis of this study is that Black Rage, embodies people who have endured heinous crimes on a continuous basis therefore manufacturing a Black Rage. Black Rage opened the black community to experience God through narratives that detailed their generations of struggle. As a people that respond to God from the experience of pain instead of being the people who are the purveyors of pain, where their Black Rage shaped their hermeneutic for understanding God.

 

 

[1] These Yet to be United States of America is a poem written my Maya Angelou. The use of lower case are mine which are used as a form of protest for brutality levied against the black body.

[2] Warner Sallman was a Christian painter from Chicago. He is most associated with his portrait, “Head of Christ,” of which more than 500 million copies have been sold. In 1994, the New York Times wrote he is likely to be voted the “best-known artist of the century”. Obery Hendricks writes about Sallman’s white Jesus: Then there was the famous blue-eyed Jesus…the most popular and most fanciful image of him (which I, like most folks I knew, thought to be the exact likeness of the Lord). The Scandinavian features and the clipped beard and carefully coiffed blond curls –not to mention the piercing blue eyes –gave Sallman’s Jesus a nobility that assured all who gazed upon him that the last thing he would do was cause trouble or upset anyone’s day.” Obery Hendricks, The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teaching and How They Have Been Corrupted, New York: Three Leaves Press, 2006., 2.

[3] These are words and details that were provided by Mamie Till when she had the opportunity to see her son. Mamie Till, “The Untold Story of Emmitt Louis Till,”TV1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAemBpFM1NI, April 28, 2011. (accessed April 28, 2016)

[4] This is the true story of Dr. Mack King Carter during his undergrad years at Florida State University. He was a major part of the integration of that campus in 1972 and became one of the country’s foremost black preachers. He died in October of 2013.

[5] Albert Cleage Jr., The Black Messiah, Trenton, New Jersey: African World Press, Inc., 1989.

[6] James Cone, Black Theology of Liberation, New York: Lippincott, 1970.

[7] Ibid.

[8] James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, New York: Orbis Books, 1969.,33.

[9] Black people, black community or black folks will be used at different times to indicate the black experience.

[10] I am inserting that to “see God” is to experience the love or lack thereof of the same God one claims. Seeing, then, is just not a visual exercise but a tangible experience of the believer that leaves a permanent pathway to transformation. “Seeing” God is the primordial hope that God enters into the struggle with black people.

 

Quotes and Notes from Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone (1970 edition)

  1. There can be Christian theology which is not identified unreservedly with those who are humiliated and abused. pg17
  2. Theology ceases to be theology of the gospel when it fails to arise out of the community of the oppressed. Pg17-18
  3. Theology becomes a servant of the state, and that can only mean death for black people. Pg22
  4. Black theology is a outcry and failure of white Christian to deal appropriately with the suffering of black people. Pg23
  5. Black Theology centers around the belief that the black community is where God is at work. Pg24
  6. …in a racist society, God is never color blind.- James Cone pg25
  7. Theology by contrast cannot be separated from the community which it represents. Pg30
  8. A community that does not analyze its existence theologically is a community that does not care what it says or does. It is a community which has no identity.- 31
  9. …white theologians see no connection between whiteness and evil or blackness and God.- 31
  10. God has taken sides in the struggle…pg 36
  11. The black community must reclaim it’s history “by unraveling new meanings in old tales so that the past may emerge as an instrument of black liberation.- 39
  12. Black Theology is survival theology because it seeks to provide the theological dimensions of the struggle for black identity.-39
  13. The search for black identity is the search for God, for God’s identity is black identity,- 40
  14. Black Theology is the theological expression of a people who lack social and political power.-40
  15. Cone is very clear that the only to combat the structures of white power is to embrace pure essence of black being.- 41
  16. To be human in a condition of social oppression always involves affirming that which the oppressor regards as degrading. – 41
  17. Black Theology is a theology of survival because it seeks to interpret the theological significance of the being of a community whose existence is threatened by the power of nonbeing.- 43
  18. The eschatological promise of heaven is insufficient to account for the earthly pain of black suffering. We cannot accept a God who inflicts or tolerates black suffering for some inscrutable purpose.- 44
  19. American theology is racist; it identifies theology as a dispassionate analysis of “the tradition”, unrelated to the sufferings of the oppressed.- 46
  20. …racism is incompatible to the Gospel of Christ.- 49
  21. To be black is to be committed to destroying everything this country loves and adores.- 49
  22. Since white American theologians do not belong to the black community, they cannot relate the gospel to that community.- 53 (I may disagree with this thought in general)
  23. There can be no Black theology that does not take seriously the black experience – life of humiliation and suffering.-54
  24. What does revelation mean when one’s being is engulfed in a system of white racism cloaking itself in pious moralities?-54
  25. Black Power is the power for black folks to make decision regarding their identity.- 56
  26. The black experience is a rage that “strikes against the enemy of black humanity by throwing a Molotov cocktail into a white owned building and watching it go up in flames.”- 56
  27. Black is the experience of carving out an existence in a society that says you don’t belong.- 57
  28. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.-59
  29. The black experience lead the black community to want to encounter with him now.- 64
  30. By taking seriously the witness of Scripture, we are prevented from making the gospel into a private moments of religious ecstasy or into the religious sanctification of the structures of society.-66
  31. It matters little to the oppressed who authored scripture; what is important is whether it can serve as a weapon against the oppressed.- 67
  32. …Literalism is being used by white scholars to encourage black people to be nonviolent, as if nonviolence is the only expression of Christian love.- Cone
  33. We cannot use Jesus behavior in the first century as a literal guide for our actions in the twentieth century.
  34. While the white church in America was rationalizing slavery through clever exegesis, the black church ministers were preaching freedom and equality.
  35. Theology cannot take some existential leap over the very issues pressing black folks in order to prop up an universalism.-76
  36. Black people have heard enough about God. What they want to know is what God is saying about the black condition.- 77
  37. It is so tempting to take the white Jesus who always speaks to black people in the terms of white interest and power.-79
  38. the Christian gospel offers men an authentic response by assuring them of God’s participation against human suffering -84
  39. The most gross sin cannot be forgive in America because it has been overlooked by America.-90
  40. Cone is very aware that God is in a personal relationship with humanity effecting the divine will of God.-90
  41. Revelation is God’s self-disclosure to humanity in a situation of liberation.-91
  42. Faith is the community’s response to God’s act of liberation.- 95
  43. We do not need to read the Bible to know that human enslavement is ungodly, and the slaves will do everything possible to break the chains.-99
  44. As the oppressed community recognized their situation in the light of God’s revelation, they know now that they should have killed him instead of “loving” him.- 101
  45. There is no revelation that does not provide man with an understanding of his own authentic self.- 103
  46. To know God is to know about ourselves…-105
  47. When oppressed people come to know who they are they will not tolerate oppression.- 105
  48. The courage to be black in the s pace of white people is what revelation means in our time- 106
  49. …the true prophet of the gospel of God must become both “anti-Christian” and “unpatriotic.”-107-108
  50. Black people are not elected to be Yahweh people of suffering.-108
  51. The black theologian must assume the dangerous responsibility of articulating the revolutionary mood of the black community.- 109
  52. The white God will point to a heavenly bliss as a means  of directing black people aay from earthly rage-110
  53. Freedom comes when we realize that it is against our interest, as a self-determining black community, to point out the god elements in an oppressive structure.-110
  54. If whites were really serious about their radicalism in regard to black revolution and it theological implications in America, they would keep silent and take instructions form black people. – 119
  55. How do we find meaning and purpose in a world in which God is absent? Are questions for an affluent society.- 120
  56. There is no place for a colorless God is a society when people suffer precisely because of their color.-120
  57. White theologians would prefer not to do theology based upon color.- 122
  58. …blackness or salvation (the two are synonymous) is the work of God not man.-125
  59. When wrath is removed from the nature of God it weakens the central biblical truth about God’s liberation of the oppressed from the oppressors.-131
  60. Black people want to know whose side God is on…-131
  61. What we need is divine love as expressed in Black Power which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors- 132
  62. If the wrath of God is his almight No against man’s Yes, then black people want to know where the No of God is today in white America.-132
  63. Love without righteousness is unacceptable to black people…-133
  64. Love means that God will accept the whites, and black will not seek reprisal.-134
  65. It takes a special kind of reasoning to conclude that God’s love means that he is no respecter of persons in a society filled with hate…-135
  66. Black Theology will accept only a love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.- 136
  67. Black Revolution trumps reformation because reformation leaves the assumption that there is still something good left in the system, it just needs to be cleaned up.- 141
  68. The hermeneutic of now is the very expressive nature of black people it captures the essence that God is entering into the struggle of black people.-142
  69. God cannot be the God of Black people and also will their suffering.-149
  70. It is not difficult for the oppressed to understand the meaning of freedom. They are forced by the very nature of their condition to interpret their existence in the world contrary to the value-structures of the oppressive society.-162
  71. …whatever we s ay about sin and man’s inability to know God because of the Fall, it must not in any way diminish the freedom of man to be in revolt against his oppressors.- 169
  72. Black Theology then emphasizes the right of black people to be black and by doing so to participate in the image of God.- 170
  73. In a world in which mean are oppressed, the image is man in rebellion against the structures of oppression.- 170
  74. Satres’s “the age of Reason” ability to capture the essence of irresponsibility is reminiscent of white privilege in America.-172
  75. Whites tell you what you have to do to be a part of the larger society and if you resist they kill you.- 174
  76. No black man will ever be good enough in the eyes of white people to merit equality.- 177
  77. There is suffering because there is no hope that  the reconciliation will be possible, and the only authentic response is to face the reality on the absurdity in rebellion.- 179
  78. Sin is alienation from the source of humanity in the world…-190
  79. Sin is not only the condition that produces lynchings, but it also makes white theologians define the theological enterprise as a “safe” venture.-193
  80. If Christ is to have any meaning for us, he must leave the security of the suburbs by joining black people in their condition.-199
  81. If Christ is white and not black, he is an oppressor, and we must kill him.- 199
  82. In baptism Jesus embraces the condition of sinners, affirming their existence as his own,- 205
  83. As long as the oppressor can be sure that the gospel does not threaten his social, economic and political security, he can enslave men in the name of Christ.- 208
  84. This means that blacks are free to do what they have to in order to affirm their humanity.-219
  85. Only oppressors can turn in upon themselves and worship their own projected image and define it as God.- 234
  86. To be oppressed is to encounter the overwhelming presence of evil without any place for escape.- 234
  87. For black people, death is not really a future reality; it is a part of their everyday existence.- 240
  88. The proper eschatological perspective must be grounded in the historical present…-241

White Jesus…

We are in a time where your pictures speak before your mouth does. As I entered a Lutheran church Sunday, I was blown away by the gigantic moral of the 30 foot white Jesus on the back wall. This white Jesus spoke more to me than the very message that was preach. This white Jesus though pictured as welcoming was the most unfriendly sight that I have ever seen in a church. This white and manicured Jesus, I assumed, was supposedly the Jesus they thought gave his life as a ransom for me. This white Jesus with a triumphant smile and arms spread abroad signaling, “May the Lord be with you.”

The entire service all I could think about was the picture of this white Jesus.

Honestly, as a fellow ELCA candidate for pastoral ministry, I didn’t feel valued or respected. This picture did not encourage me to want to be in fellowship with this particular church. It made want to leave the ELCA in its entirety. The premise of a white Jesus has more negative implications than I have time or care to discuss. What I will say is that as a black male, the invention of a white Jesus is inconsistent with building multi-cultural churches…