Friday, September 24, 2021

Black Consciousness vs Christianity – Part 2.

January 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Business, Christian Talk, News, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Again, this is not an attempt to proselytize or to shape your thinking regarding religion or spirituality. Rather, this is an attempt to delve into a subject that is often brought up among Black folks and used to separate us instead of bring us together around practical economic/public policy solutions.

By example, in 1843, Christian minister and abolitionist, Henry Highland Garnet, gave an inspirational speech that shocked the delegates of the National Negro Convention. Known as the “Call to Rebellion” speech, in which Garnet encouraged slaves to turn against their masters. “Neither god, nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your solemn and imperative duty to use every means, both moral, intellectual, and physical that promises success.”

In response, Frederick Douglass spoke out against the speech to the convention. Garnet responded to Douglass’ rejoinder but the convention did not sanction Garnet’s approach to abolition. To misunderstand the message here is to fall into that same trap of divisiveness; this is an attempt to build a bridge between “conscious” Blacks and Black Christians.

Can one be a Christian and also have a Black consciousness? This does not simply mean giving fiery sermons on Black consciousness but having no track record of doing anything to back up the rhetoric. It means doing the work that comes with being conscious. Last week’s column cited Garvey’s and MLK’s words to illustrate their 2016-Henry-Highland-GarnetBlack/Christian consciousness rhetoric, but they also have a voluminous record of working according to their beliefs in both areas.

Too often we get so deep into Black Christian/Black Consciousness conversations and fail to get to the work of either. Seems some of us are convinced that it has to be either or. We can choose to be one or the other, but we can also choose to be both. My contention is that we can get the maximum from both camps, not by arguing or putting one another down, but by marshaling our forces for our collective economic and political benefit.

Here is a cross-section of three contemporary “Conscious/Christian” individuals. Father George Clements, the Chicago based Catholic Priest who founded the One Church-One Child program in the 1980’s and then moved on to become an integral part of the MATAH Network, the only Black owned and operated distribution network. Father Clements never compromised his Christian beliefs and yet has always stood strong in his own Black consciousness.

Richard A. Rose, a Church of Christ Minister in Cincinnati, Ohio, now retired. I have seen, first-hand, his dedication to Christian principles; and through conversations about his childhood I learned about Rose’s Black consciousness, the most outstanding act of which took place during the planning and construction a new church building. Rose insisted on hiring a Black architect and then a Black builder to do the work. Imagine our collective economic benefit if all contracts to build Black churches were awarded to Black architectural and construction firms.

Then, there is Jonathan Weaver, an A.M.E. Pastor in Bowie, Maryland. Also a Harvard Business School grad, he has such an extraordinarily high level of Black/Christian consciousness, and he uses it to teach about economic empowerment by inter-weaving relevant economic information into his sermons. Weaver has demonstrated the power of Black Conscious Christianity via establishing and working for twenty years now with the Collective Empowerment Group (CEG).

Other unapologetic Black Conscious Christians, like D.C. Pastor, Willie Wilson, stress and do the work of empowerment; they understand that, as Booker T. Washington said, “Not everyone goes to church, but everyone goes to business.”

Likewise, there are many non-Christians with what I call an “active” level of Black consciousness, who far exceed the work of some of our most noted Christian leaders, many of whom are only interested in their own self-aggrandizement and “prosperity.”

Imagine the progress we would make if we combined these groups’ efforts. Howard Thurman said, “What, then, is the word of the religion of Jesus to those who stand with their backs against the wall? … They must recognize fear, deception, and hatred, each for what it is. Once having done this, they must learn how to destroy these or to render themselves immune to their domination.”

“James Cone and the theologians of Black Consciousness in South Africa agreed that White missionaries had preached a form of Christianity that helped to sustain racist and colonialist oppression…But this was not the fault of the Gospel itself; it had resulted rather from an interpretation of it that served the selfish interests and sinful appetites of Europeans.” Black Power to Black Consciousness, Univ. of California Press

Marcus Garvey’s words, referring to the “injunction of Acts 17:26,” said “If Negros are Black, and Negros are created in God’s own image, then God must in some sense be Black.”

It’s time for the “Collection.” Say, “Ashe” or “Amen.”

Written By James E. Clingman

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2 Responses to “Black Consciousness vs Christianity – Part 2.”
  1. BlackAtheistRepublic says:


    *All the knowledge inside Christianity was stolen from African Religions. The people who translated the Bible are White Men. It as has been lost in translation

    *There is nothing Monotheistic about the holy trinity. Hindu’s have the same concept is polytheism transient, as along as you say its one god? Jews wouldn’t agree…Jesus doesn’t meet the qualifications to be the savior…but you don’t believe that now do you? … are pagan…. and the “virgin birth” is literally listed in countless wiccan/pagan creeds.

    *Religion tells us to fall on God too much and not take things into our hands. Just pray…

    *There is nothing proving Christianity over Judiasm or Islam…or Hindusim..or Anamalism, nothing whatsoever…merely your “opinion” and/or your birthright. All the “stories” are convincing…

    * Second of all we never left the Earth Centric view eons ago that states all cosmic things orbit earth. Why does the God of the whole UNIVERSE originate on Earth? Earth could be destroyed in its entirety and the Universe will live on…it be as if nothing happened.

    *Do you really believe these stories…these myths? A man talking to a god…on a mountain? Despite the O.T’s “beware of idolatry” a man is God…and he “saves us”? Maybe Buddah, Muhameed and Thor also are our saviors too? I mean they have stories too….

  2. Marque Anthony says:

    Here are the facts:
    What’s sad is that we African Americans are still calling ourselves BLACK because Caucasian oppressors called us that to contrast their color and to assign to us all the negative things BLACK is equated with in the dictionary. The fact is, like it or not and believe it or not, YOU ARE BROWN and your car tires are black. You can say black is a culture but when they deal with you, they deal with you based on it’s definition – dismal, gloomy, dark, diabolical, treacherous, devoid of light.

    WAKE UP AFRICAN AMERICANS. We do not call the Asian yellow man because he would not stand for it. We do not call the Native American a red man because he would not stand for it. We do not call the Hispanic man a brown man because he would not stand for it. And many Africans, Haitians and Jamaicans do not accept being called a color they know they are NOT.

    Ironically, African Americans are the only ethnic group/race on the planet which allows ourselves to be called a color we are not, allowing ourselves to be defined by color, by someone else and to allow ourselves to be attached to a color we are not – a color they filled with negative denotations. Then we fight to help keep the lie in place.

    Is it any wonder that cops treat us as BLACK people by the definition of dismal, gloomy, treacherous, evil etc? We will never rise and overcome as a people if we allow other groups to define us, to define us with a lie and we are sadly willing to help them. AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES MATTER PEOPLE.

    Black is the color of my car tires, not my skin. I am a family and relationship counselor who specializes in deprogramming African Americans from slavery mindsets.