God and Black People

The Negro soul is a complex soul. Black folks will tell you that the black soul hides the burdened of millions of Negroes who suffered at the hands of white supremacy. The march from the oppression of slavery to the injustice of Jim Crow has left the soul marked with millions of burdens that only God can remove. Black oppression was God’s design. In part, a comparative design he handed the Jews. Black folks have long held to the Jewish-Exodus narrative as they relive the accounts of their bondage, which involved centuries of slavery, a migration from mass injustices, lynchings, unemployment, and mass incarcerations.


As noted by the drawing published in Crisis Magazine by editor W.E.B. Du Bois, the white South represented a moral contradiction to the Gospel of Christ, who reminded the white South, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”. This 1916 depiction showcases the fear that encapsulated blacks to the point of drawing on biblical narratives about freedom.

However, not all blacks hold close the Christian narrative. Better yet, many have seperated themselves from the narrative of being God’s righteous people. Being a black atheist in America is a challenging position to reside. A black atheist within the black community has amounted to levels of criminality. Black folks have long used religion as a way to find answers for their historical suffering within the confines of white America. And though there are black folks who live a life of moral contradictions vis-a-vis scriptural rules, there is no place for nonbelievers. Remember, God rescued the American Negro from bondage. Centuries of lynching and years of Jim Crow created a universal sense of “togetherness” as it relates to the black church.


Above: Ray Lewis, the once arrested but never convicted of murder is seen here on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Lewis, who is quick to thank God for his many blessings, was captured in an image of baptismal renewal. Lewis will tell you that God gave him a second chance, seeing that many felt he was involved and guilty of at least destroying evidence.

Black entertainers represent one of the greatest misrepresentation of normative black-religious culture. After one scores a touchdown, he pauses to give thanks to Jesus, pointing to the heavens or saying a prayer, while marking his uniform with a cross like action. Speeches, interviews, and award acceptances are easily engulfed in a thanks be to God reference. So when NFL running back Arian Foster stated he does not believe in God, it caught many by surprise. Foster’s denial of God will receive greater criticism from the black community. God has blessed him with riches and fame, yet he rejects a God who rescued his race from oppression. Thus, Foster and others have rejected their righteous place in the kingdom of heaven.

Black Memory

This is a fantastic essay by a colleague writing for the African American Intellectual History Society. I have worked very hard seeking to avoid my use of terms such as Uncle Tom or Sellout, when discussing black republicans or wealthy black folks who have abandon us. But, it is a constant struggle. This essay points to a post-racial myth often promulgated by white and black liberals, and consumed under conservative ideology. As noted here, “What has driven these Black folk out of their minds? Two words: racist ideas. They have consumed the racist idea of post-racialism that claims dysfunctional Black people are to blame for persisting racial disparities since racial discrimination no longer exists. They have consumed the racist idea that angry Black people are more violently reckless with colorblind police officers and that’s why they are being disproportionately killed.”

Dear White People,You Must Listen to Black People


I have been asked via a number of emails what can I do as a white person? My advice is to engage in different communities. Most of the white people I know do not have much interaction with others outside the workspace. White people have privileges due to being white. If you teach at an independent school, college, university, or in a profession dominated by whites from top to bottom — your chances are few, thus you will have to try harder. It is cool to invite folks to your white church — but how about attending a black church. Better yet — invite them into your home. Have you done that? Make your home their home. Breaking bread in your home says a great deal. Often, black people struggle to afford college, have a job that does not allow them to pay their bills on time, and thus have to work a second job. We carry a historical past that plagues us in ways not so pronounced to white people. If you want to be a true ally, you must surround yourself with black people. And, you must understand our narratives. Do not tell us we are wrong. Do not tell us we misunderstood a situation. Just listen to us and support us.

In Ferguson, Baltimore, and L.A., riots occurred after a cop killed a black man. Folks are quick to tell me it is not about race. Yes it is about race. I think about my white boss (es) everyday; I think about my white colleagues as white everyday. Why? [Because they remind me that I am black] Are you doing that? White people with guilt say they do not see color. If you believe in God, please know he/she sees color; if you believe in God, you know she/he sought the beauty of diversity, though white people created race as a construct for systematic and categorical purposes. In each of the aforementioned communities (Ferguson, Baltimore, LA), segregation and black inequality played a major role. We are not an equal society. Years of Jim Crow cannot vanish because King gave a speech. White people hold power. For example: the white upper-class part of North Baton Rouge tried to succeed from the poorer black community of South Baton Rouge just two years ago. They viewed the black community as dangerous and having an economic impact on their way of life. Instead of reaching out with the power white people have — they sought to separate. Do your kids travel to the other part of town to play? Do you make it an effort to find ways to have your kids interact with blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, etc.? Are you will to break bread with folks in the hood? So, if you want to know what you can do, my advice is to do what you are not doing. Telling me you do not see race is your first mistake. That is just your privilege talking. Do something.

It is Getting Old


I know we do not have all of the facts regarding the police killing of Alton Sterling, but from what I can see, the narrative looks familiar. Then, just a day later, Philando Castile was gunned down in his own car by a cop. Black, blue, or green — it is a life. As an academic who looks at race and engages in meaningful conversations about our past, present, and future predicament, I have elected to fly (post) the NAACP flag from 1920 to1938 on my social media page. The NAACP displayed this every time a black person was lynched. I will do this for the murder/lynching of innocent black folks.

Black Middle Class

This is a very good conversation, in part, because it aims at a central argument in circulation among a number of us who constitute the black left. The black middle class abandoned the general black population after the 1960s civil rights movement. Though West points to a number of other narratives here, he does a great job encapsulating the aforementioned point.