Black Christ Worship

Black Christ Worship


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Although the respondents were only given two choices—white or black

58% refused to assign a color to Christ—28% believed Christ to be black

 and 7% believed him to be white.



Black Christ Worship

The black Christ: not the Sunday School picture

By Kara Breens

Who worships a black Christ? Are African American Christians who perceive Christ as black more likely to be politically active than those for whom Christ’s color is insignificant. And how is a black Christ different from a white Christ?

Dr. Ron Brown, chair of the political Science department at Wayne State University, spent the last four years researching these questions. This past Tuesday, in  a lecture sponsored by the Paul B. Henry Institute, he reported on some of his findings.

To conduct his study, brown had a staff of African Americans conduct telephone interviews on a sample of roughly 1000 African Americans. Ninety-eight percent of those interviewed identified themselves as Christians.

Most of the people surveyed (64%) had been exposed to questions regarding the color of Christ. When Brown asked respondents what color they perceived Christ to be, however, the consensus was less definitive. Although the respondents were only given two choices— white or black—58% refused to assign a color to Christ—28% believed Christ to be black and 7% believed him to be white.

Brown then sought to determine whether a person who worshipped a black Christ would be more politically active than someone who pictured Christ as white or colorless.

He found that those Christians who perceive Christ to be black usually attend highly political churches with Pan-African emphases. For example, they often identified Africa rather than United States as the spiritual home of African American Christianity.

In contrast, the African American Christians who perceived Christ as having no color were more likely to engage in social activism. for example, they would spend more of their activist energy serving at soup kitchens or offering volunteer childcare than in such outright political activities as recruiting voters.

Finally, brown asked: What does it mean to worship a black Christ? Here again he found that there is more than one answer to the question. certain African American churches pray to a black Savior as the backdrop for salvation, presumedly as a way in which African American Christians can better identify with Christ.

According to Brown, other African American Christians especially Black men, associate certain Nat-Turner-like characteristics with a Black Christ; they emphasize the characteristics of Christ as Yahweh, the warrior God.

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated  28 July 2008




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Related files: The Black Nazarene     Black Christ in Flesh    Black Christ Poem   Blacks Worshipping Christ     Seven Last Words of Jesus  The Second Time Around   Sermon on the Mount  Contextual Theology 

Dialogue on Black Theology  The Black Religious Crisis  Interview with Howard Thurman  Howard Thurman    Pan-Africanism and the Black Church  God of the Oppressed    Negro Spirituals and American Culture 

Negro Spirituals and American Culture  The Spiritual and the Blues   The Black Christ by Don L. Lee   The Black Christ Theology   Black Jesus Has Nothing But Affection  

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