In a very early draft, I noted the church — both the Negro church and the white church cannot fully reconcile their racial differences because at the heart of their differences exist capitalism. It was capitalism that transformed the Negro church after 1970 from an agent seeking radical change to one procuring materialism. And because churches love capitalism, they continue to fall short of being revolutionary change agents. Capitalism promotes racism and divides the black and white working class from an achievable world. The white church fails at transforming the weak, poor, and oppressed in their space. While “some” provide food and shelter, they have yet to challenge the status of oppression that keeps the soup lines open. Others have conformed to blaming those who struggle, giving in to the solution of liberalism, as a measure in which capitalism favors them and their paternalism.
The 21st century church must disavow its complacency and promulgate equality through radical preachers who love people more than capitalism, and who will subscribe to what Psalm 82: 3-4 notes: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Black academic and radical organizer Melvin Tolson once noted, “Jesus didn’t believe in economic, racial, and social distinctions…. You talk about Karl Marx, the Communist! Why, don’t you know Jesus was preaching about leveling society 1,800 years before the Jewish Red was born?”
Melvin Tolson above discussing Jesus as a radical.
I spent my AM visiting the English Department. Steph Holmes — a friend and colleague invited me into her III rd form English class to discuss race and religion. Her students were great. She was great as she connected my talk to their study of the “Color Purple.”
Above is a picture she shared and her thoughts on social media about my visit:
“A big thanks to Mr. Edward Carson for his lesson “Jesus was a Black Man from the Hood.” The conversation enhanced our study of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and more importantly, he challenged us to consider the relationships between religion and race, power, class, gender and sexual orientation–as well as the origins of those relationships, how they are depicted in art and literature, and the impact on contemporary American culture. You’re always welcome in my classroom, Eddie!”
Yes there are those who feel Obama aims to heighten the racial notion and benefits of black people. However — my essay points to a president who has evaded the topic of race — see The Christian Century magazine Then and Now, as I noted that
As Obama’s term comes to an end, black Americans have realized he is not the hoped-for savior. Hence the tension: between the expectations of a historically oppressed race and the ushering in of America as post racial.
You can find my article here.
I am excited about my talk at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge. This talk draws from my research in developing my American Jesus course. The above announcement recently went out; I am hoping to have a great conversation with folks who attend. The last lecture I gave there saw 20 – 25 people who attended. Here is my description of the talk: The Black Christian Communist in America starts with an address by the now defunct Knights of Labor’s Constitution, which opened with a biblical verse from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.” The workers believed Jesus Christ’s teachings promoted a central socialist narrative of love and sacrifice for all people – not one against socialism, the poor, and marginalized, which has long been a construct of American Calvinists, who purported that Christ and his teachings were capitalist. The historical transformation of Christ, as a blond haired blue-eyed capitalist, will be juxtaposed to a darker skinned Christ, who was a socialist and thus marched with the poor, with sinners, and communists. This engaging discussion addresses the relationship of the American church and religion, its members, and the importance of race and socialism in eradicating societal inequalities dating back to the black power movement of the 1960s to #blacklivesmatter in the 21st century.
H-AmRel (History of American Religion) invited me to write a scholarly review for publication of the book “Black Power in the Bluff City: African-American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965 – 1975.” I am excited about finishing this work and grasping the complex historical narrative of Memphis — as presented by Shirletta J. Kinchen.
I am pictured here with a group of students I took to the Old North Church yesterday as part of my American Jesus course. Students delved into an activity which juxtaposed this church to gender, class, and race relations via its emergence in 1723 Boston.
Professor Edward Blum traveled to Brooks School to work with my American Jesus class. Blum, noted historian on topics of race and religion, is one of those people who inspires me. We spend hours talking about our teaching, research and writing, and books we are reading. It is like bringing a historical conference to me. Further, my students are intrigued by the diverse setting. I have devoted my adult life to becoming a better teacher and scholar. Blum motivates me to find the time to do the research, which allows me to be a better teacher. Thus, I am spending today reviewing my archival notes and categorizing them in my data base.
I am teaching a social history elective titled “American Jesus.” A friend and colleague of mine will be delivering a talk on his recent research. I brought Ed Blum in as a guest in my class for the next few days.