Posted on: 03/21/12:

A Lament for Trayvon Martin

Category: Black
Posted by: AWilkes
On Sunday, February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old man, argues that he was acting in self-defense. Incredibly, Mr. Zimmerman has not yet been arrested. However, due to the organizing efforts of his parents, civil rights groups, MSNBC shows, and concerned citizens, the latest racialized miscarriage of our criminal justice system is now getting the widespread attention that it deserves. On Monday, March 20th, it was announced that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are embarking upon an independent investigation into the causes and circumstances of Mr. Martin’s death. Many important commentaries have been written on the death of Trayvon Martin: in particular, Mark Jefferson’s piece on the Urban Cusp merits special attention.

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Category: Black
Posted by: KHarrell
In a world filled with problems and difficult situations that demand our attention, I have found one situation that dominates my thinking. The problem is the dilemma which faces the Black Christian intellectual in America. Intellectuals, those strange creatures who choose to live a life of the mind, are an unappreciated group throughout the world. In a world that has come to think of education solely in terms of its utilitarian function of producing useful employees for the marketplace rather than exposing people to the market place of ideas, the stubborn intellectual is a stranger and alienated.

Of course, some societies value their intellectuals more than others. In this regard, Western Europe comes to mind. The United States of America has long been criticized for its anti-intellectual atmosphere and I am convinced that this critique rings true. For all of our advancements in the economic arena and technology, American society has a profound distrust of intellectuals and intellectualism. As a result of this distrust, Americans are reluctant to create environments in which intellectuals can flourish. This includes our colleges and universities which have long surrendered themselves to the pressure of producing viable employees for capital markets. This reality has had a devastating effect on all intellectually inclined persons but has even more negatively impacted the Black American intellectuals who have few infrastructures outside of academic ones to hone their craft.

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Category: Black
Posted by: LDawson
This essay was originally published in Reformed Theological Seminary - Orlando's Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon Volume V Issue XX.
___________________

On January 17, 2011, we as a nation observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since 1986, this has been established as a U.S. federal holiday. Every year when this holiday comes around it reminds people of the civil rights movement. This movement, prominent during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, is arguably one of the darkest times in American history and church history.

Dr. King is most notably remembered for his leadership during the civil rights movement. He labored endlessly to make visible what was invisible in American society, which was racial equality and justice for black Americans. His mission was to make “justice a reality for all of God’s children.”[1]

Dr. King labored tirelessly to make the crooked areas (racial segregation, discrimination, and injustice) of American society straight. Some examples of his tireless efforts include when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and the march on Washington, D.C., in 1963. As a Baptist minister, the bible was instrumental in his life. It guided and governed his leadership of the civil right movement, and it was the Word of God that framed his worldview. He saw that the Scriptures teach that all human beings are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity as image bearers of God, regardless of race, gender, or age.

King saw this belief reflected in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, in the familiar words that “all men are created equal.” All the evidence confirmed his convictions, but these truths were not visible in American society or, for that matter, in the American church. Instead of racial equality Dr. King saw that the life of blacks was “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”[2] Black Americans were targets of systemic injustice, police brutality, and they were forced to live in poverty in the midst of a prosperous nation. They experienced hatred instead of love, even in the Christian church where congregations were taught to love their neighbors as themselves. The black community, Christians and non-Christians alike, experienced rejection from white Christians.

Seeing that his reality was not matching up with what he read in Scripture, Dr. King sought to do something about it. He gave all his energy and strength to the cause of social justice. In the spirit of William Wilberforce, he was passionate about seeking to implement legislation that would give blacks their citizenship rights.

Truth that travels is an excellent way to summarize the life and times of Dr. King. He knew the truth, he acted on it, and he opened the eyes of others to see that truth. He put his life on the line for the biblical cause of human dignity and justice. His sacrifice is marked by stark statistics: in the span of about 13 years he was arrested 30 times, his home was fire-bombed, and on one occasion he nearly died from stab wounds—all in the pursuit of justice.

Ultimately, Dr. King gave his life in order to make “justice a reality for all of God’s children,”[3] which sadly ended at the young age of 39 when he was shot in Memphis, Tenn. His life and determination is a great example of a person living in accordance with biblical truth. His life is by far one of “the greatest demonstrations for freedom in the history of our nation.”[4]

Lloyd Dawson
A RBA African American Imagination and Theological Project scholar

___________________
1. Martin Luther King, “I Have A Dream,” available from http://www.mlkonline.net/dream.html; Internet; accessed 16 February 2011.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.

Posted on: 03/04/08:

Blackness Primer Revisited

Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
John McWhorter defends fried chicken, dancing and Ebonics.
My recent piece on a definition of blackness seems to have created some misunderstandings. Many seem to think that if all people of African descent do not exhibit a cultural trait, then there are no grounds for designating that trait "black."

Upon which I note: ostriches do not fly; bats do. Does this mean that we are "stereotyping" in making the generalization that birds fly?

Of course not. Most birds fly. My quick list of some traits that can be considered "black" was based on the same logic. That is: There are definable cultural characteristics and behaviors that link black people to one another culturally, and this complex of characteristics and behaviors can be designated "black culture." This particular complex of characteristics and behaviors does not describe Jewish people or Armenians. It describes black Americans.

Black English was created by black people; most black people speak it to some extent. If there were no black Americans there would be no Black English. It is a black cultural trait.

Christianity is a bedrock of cultural blackness. There are, of course, Black Muslims, but not as many as Christians. Barack Obama was counseled by black ministers that if he was to have credibility in the community where he was organizing, he would have to join a church. Their counsel would seem to suggest that Christianity plays a central role in black culture. Were they "stereotyping" black culture? Christianity played a central role in the Civil Rights movement: that is, the black people with most influence over the community were Christian ministers.

In the program to the original Broadway production of the musical Hairspray, six of the eleven black cast members thanked God (not Allah) for their success. One the 24 white cast members, only one did that. This was another indication that Christian faith plays a central role in black culture – unless for some reason white actors have a commitment to suppressing evidence of their faith in their program bios, which obviously they do not.

Or: in the film of Waiting to Exhale, there is a quick exterior sequence of the protagonists leaving church on Sunday, despite that the movie is not about religion. Think about how much less likely that shot would be in the latest film with people like Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, or Katie Holmes. If they were seen leaving church – especially four characters together – then the movie would likely be about the church in some way. In Waiting to Exhale, that sequence was a nice touch of authenticity – in that Christianity is part of the warp and woof of the culture.

Fried chicken is a part of black culture. It was created in the South, and black Americans once mostly lived in the South. Naturally, fried chicken would remain popular with black people. In addition, black people helped develop its seasoning, and ate it especially often because slaves were only allowed to keep chickens.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
John McWhorter gives an interesting (given his past publications) and honest assessment on "blackness." He argues, "Some people are blacker than others."
In the The New York Times last Sunday, Jill Nelson dismissed the idea that black people ever really wondered whether Sen. Barack Obama was "black enough." My memory of how Obama was being discussed a year ago is different from Nelson's. Today, however, black people who question Obama's authenticity are indeed a fringe.

So what's that all about? Well, with Obama, it was whether he was committed to the black community's concerns. He was--as a black community organizer in Chicago. And he is, in his commitment to programs on prisoner re-entry and responsible fatherhood.

However, when the question of whether someone is "really black" comes up outside the realm of politics, we tend to lapse into a kind of doubletalk. One ploy is to swat away the issue of blackness as a real quantity. In that case, "What's that all about?" is not so much a query as a rebuke that the question is inappropriate, illogical, or even underhanded.

When Michelle Obama dismissed the question about her husband as "silliness," that was sensible: Barack Obama has proven that he understands black concerns. Too often, though, we are taught that it is "silly" to address blackness as a gradient at all. But this is evasive. We're tiptoeing around something, and it's black culture. Some people are more rooted in it than others – and there isn't a thing wrong with that.

Some say that blackness is simply a matter of color. By this analysis, anyone who raises the larger questions about black identity is apparently visually impaired. Last year, Gwen Ifill, for example, dismissed the question of whether Obama is black enough because someone who, like her, is a child of immigrant blacks might not be considered "black." But I think we all know it's not that simple. The brown-skinned person implying their skin color renders the whole issue moot is leveling a coded challenge: "Are you saying that all black people talk like rappers and eat fried chicken?"

But this implies that there is no such thing as black culture in a legitimate sense. But there is – and it includes Ebonics and chicken!

What is black culture? Definitions will differ. But we can't treat the definition as so "fluid" that it isn't a definition at all. I will toss out a few parameters of what "black" is:
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Posted on: 11/28/07:

Dr. Jeremiah Wright on FOX News

Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
This is sure to become a classic interview - Dr. Jeremiah Wright, a Black pastor of a self-conscious African/Black church with a Black theology of liberation arguing about his church's views with a White theologically and politically conservative pundit, Sean Hannity. No matter what you think about Wright and his comments, he as a Black socratic thinker/theologian, would not be defined by another. Now if only more Black (Reformed) Christians would have such courageous and critical intelligence.




Related: “Perspectives on Jeremiah Wright's Sermon Excerpts and Obama's Speech.”


Category: Black
Posted by: ABradley
Black Graduates

On August 9th, I was a guest on the "Morning Coffee with Tracey & Friends" program, a program for the Black community, hosted by Tracey Winbush, on WGFT - AM 1330 in Youngstown, OH, discussing a whole myriad of issues in the Black community. Tracey Winbush, an absolutely provocative radio host, and her entire group of African American “friends” offered an interesting and lively discussion (“y’all know how we do” especially when you get a bunch of us in a room talking about God!) To my surprise, I spent nearly an hour defending the existence of the Trinity. Didn’t we cover that at Nicea in 325 AD?

During our conversation I came to one long conclusion: Christianity in Black America is in serious trouble. Much of it is dying, moving toward old errors and heresies while some orthodox circles are not addressing contemporary issues, and we are in desperate need for a new generation of Black theologians. Here’s why I’m worried:

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Posted on: 08/24/07:

What Black Men Think

Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
In case you haven't heard, there is a new film called, What Black Men Think. The film attempts to debunk many of the stereotypes and myths about Black men. I definitely want to see it because I don't even know what I think as a Black man half time. But seriously, has anyone seen this yet? I've read some reviews. I just hope it is beyond the normal political propaganda from the left or the right.

The Washington Post has a writeup here.

Excerpt:
In 2005, according to the Census Bureau, there were 864,000 black men in college. According to Justice Department statistics, there were 802,000 in federal and state prisons and jails, "even with the old heads holding on," Morton says.

Between the ages of 18 and 24, however, black men in college outnumber those incarcerated by 4 to 1.

Still, the idea that the reverse is true stems from an image that has been perpetuated, Morton says, by the government, the media and the black leadership, whoever they are.

So you ask him to ask the white men sitting behind him at the restaurant.

"I'm not worried about them," he says. "My point is I'm worried about us and what we think about ourselves."
The video that started it all:


Here's a video from the site of people's opinion about the film:
Category: Black
Posted by: Curtis
W.E.B. Dubios, Macolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks

During my theological sojourn at Dallas Seminary, Eddie B. Lane [1] challenged the author on several occasions to make a contribution to evangelical thinking modalities by learning to wed Christ-centered thinking with Afrocentric interpretative applications of the Sacred text. In other words, Lane rightly avers that it is important for African American theologians to exercise critical thinking as one who `engages the biblical text concomitant to one’s communal context in order to loose the mental shackles of Eurocentric interpretive application. It seems that the African American evangelical theologian can ill afford spending an inordinate amount of time investigating false truth claims and worldviews that are not prevalent among African Americans in order to be accepted or, even more tragically, revered by the dominant culture within Evangelicalism. Rather, one must take pains to contextualize the complexities of evangelical theology to the degree that one’s African American target group (believing and unbelieving) can readily understand and appropriate the truths therein. That is, one must employ the pedagogical principle of “teaching the unknown in light of the known,” if one desires to build the necessary bridges for engaging our brothers and sisters in search of truth.

It amazes the writer how much the spirit of postmodernism, even if not philosophically understood by many adherents, has laid its fiendish grip on the African American community as well. The writer observes this spirit flowing through the minds and motivations of African American brothers and sisters who have, in unprecedented numbers, begun to reject Big momma’s and paw-paw’s “Hope” found in the Christ of Scripture (1Tim 1:1; Heb 6:13-20), for what I deem as cultural hearsay—the crafting of philosophical and theological beliefs through street corner and barber shop conversations instead of historical research. Quite honestly, I, too, was once victimized by this shoddy intellectualism.

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Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX


I wonder how many Black boys were/are influenced by the White superhero narrative that predominately portrayed Blacks as mere sidekicks and/or virtually powerless heroes, which probably led many Black boys to revere fictitious White superheroes more than the heroism of real, flesh and blood Black men, such as David Walker, Fredrick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, Malcolm X? Could there also be a current correlation between Black (Reformed) men looking up and deferring almost always to White (Reformed) theologians/heroes?