Friday, August 17, 2007
The End of Blackness
Has the notion of "blackness" bamboozled African Americans into an unhealthy obsession with white America? What are the deleterious consequences of this? How has "blackness" diminished the sovereignty of African Americans as rational and moral beings? How has white America exploited the concept to sublimate its rage toward and contempt for black America? Is American racism an intractable malaise, and who gets to decide when the past is over?
Those are some of the questions posed in the book The End of Blackness by Debra J. Dickerson. It is an interesting and intriguing concept. Is ‘blackness’ as we know it on the way out? Will the very concept and notion of blackness be obsolete in 20, 30 or 50 years. Some might say no, for as long as white racism is alive and thriving there will always be blackness. Other might add that the dominant society needs blackness just as much as black folks do. If not for blackness how else would they know that they’re superior?
But is ‘blackness’ on its last legs? What is ‘blackness’ when your father, mother, daughter, son, niece, nephew or cousin has been gunned down over something as stupid as a parking space and those who saw it refuse to come forward just so they can stick to the ‘stop snitchin’ code? Where is ‘blackness’ when the young teacher whose life ambition was to gain an education so she could teach her people questions that decision after her first year of school? Tell me of blackness when inner city pastors seek to make hundreds of thousands of dollars while the communities they serve fall apart day after day. And with that has the black church failed black people by doggedly promoting ‘blackness’ at the expense of godliness? Have we led our people to idolatry by tacitly teaching that white people are god and that until and unless they end all forms of racism and ask forgiveness for the past that we will never be healed and never be whole?
Will the budding reform that could come to the black church repeat these same paradigms? Is our goal to disciple the black community so that our main purpose is the pursuit of God, His delight and His kingdom through Jesus Christ or to merely to put reformed garments on the same old dead bones? Will we view our white brothers and sisters as just that brothers and sisters in the same family or as those who have no share in this ministry? Must our mission always be framed in terms of how we relate to, are different from or oppose white people? I wonder will the nascent reformed black community hitch our wagon to the last fumes of blackness or guide black people to the old ship of Zion? Are we to leave black people to drown in a sea of falsehood after they’ve been tossed to and fro by deceitful doctrines just because biblical theology has been promoted and taught by dare I say it DEAD EUROPEAN WHITE MEN? Are we going to teach blacks, whites and whomever else that our main and most important identity is our blackness and that you must relate to me as black first and black always before you see me as a brother in Christ? Will we ever share in the mission of the church to disciple the nations or is our mission just confined to seeing that black folks get our slice of the pie at Denny’s?
And what happens if we hold onto blackness only to find the concept like whiteness cannot save? That it cannot bring genuine joy, grant authentic peace and secure a guaranteed hope? What happens when we discover that black folks are still sinners? That despite getting a good education, landing a high paying job and living in a nice suburban neighborhood that black folks too are sinful, selfish, arrogant, self-centered, lustful, dishonest, greedy, divisive and depraved. What will we have to say to black folks once racism is over, integration a reality and opportunity abounds?
Brothers just what will our message be at the end of blackness?
To Him Who Loves Us…