The Passing of a Remarkable Black Intellectual

 I have three books in need of a scholarly review for submission, thus I will not be able to honor the passing of Cedric Robinson with another read of his classic work. I was once told in my academic studies that if you are going to study W.E.B. Du Bois and grasp the challenges presented by white supremacy, Imperialism, and capitalism, you must read “Black Marxism.” I dedicate a full day of reading and writing to Professor Robinson.
The African-American Intellectual History Society published an excellent piece in memory of Mr. Robinson by Robin D.G. Kelley.

What does it mean to be a member of the talented tenth?

As I further my study of W.E.B. Du Bois — I am keenly forced to address his adoption of communism as a ubiquitous form of egalitarian, righteous, and progressive truth. From Marx to Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” the reality of the black mind and how black thinkers and activist reshape society dominates my study, teaching, and academic engagement. Hence I place greater value on my labor as it is me and the rest of the talented tenth who must educate other black folks on their obligation to the race — but also to remind whites of their daily actions and sense of being imprisoned by the lies of liberalism and social justice. This my friends are the things that divide us. We are not alike. I am not like you. And I will remind you of this at our next conference, in my papers, as I march across campuses, in protest, and while traveling from coast line to coast line. Ending this divide requires a level of work few are ready for.

Being Black, Another Thought on Faith

Black folk — during the days of Harriet Tubman, shared folk tales via singing to describe Christ’s coming to save them from Egyptian bondage; it was Tubman (black Moses) who emerged in the days of the Exodus to guide the enslaved across the Red Sea into the northern region; she was guided by the northern star – the one followed by the wise me of Christ’s days. Such religious tales illustrated a “sense” of religiosity” that still exists among black folk, yet no longer carries the same fervor.

Edward Blum’s work speaks to the religiosity of Du Bois as a spiritual intellectual. Cornel West’s writings often discuss the soulful needs of faith and the church as a process of survival for black folks in a world dominated by white supremacy. In an age of reason, one that places too much attention on academics for profit, such as the late Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, the norm of thought is that intellectuals lack a faith in God — particularly white academics. The thought of blacks being nonbelievers used to be uncommon, however, that has shifted in the post-civil rights age.

During the age of Jim Crow, black folks congregated in the black church, as many do today. For some it is a form of spiritual “togetherness” and a show of political and economic solidarity. The church once served as the center of political and social lifer for black Americans. Though still true for some, the rise of secular culture, academic life, science, and materialism has changed that dynamic.

What is different about black theology?

According to James Cone, “it is due exclusively to the failure of white religionists to relate the gospel of Jesus to the pain of being black in a white racist society.”

For nearly three hundred years, the enslaved house worker had been listening to their owners’ prayers and Bible readings….They were able to interpret their own inexplicable situation and give themselves reasons to stay alive. This notion has transformed itself from the plantation to the political arena as seen by such actors as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

While many African-Americans seem to belong to the general segment known as Baptists, the first African Baptist church began this trend in Richmond VA, in 1838 when the pastor and members of the First Baptist Church of that city debated its growing difficulty: What to do with the growing black population in the church. Perhaps one of the reasons so many African Americans today consider themselves Baptists is because of its orthodox and conservative nature as a branch of Christianity.

It is at this point one might see a division between those of religious academic type and those of a more spiritual devotion. The religious academic types see the church as a vehicle to bring about social justice in eradicating poverty, racism, and social ills that permeate society. This type of black folk tend to be far more progressive than those rooted in the deep southern tradition of the orthodox Baptist church.

The White Christ

If you only knew how much I love brother Malcolm X. Yep. I have read a great deal on Malcolm. My African American Studies students are exploring him now as many were unaware of his spiritual journey and transformation. We watched this scene today as Malcolm challenges the notion of a white Christ. Classic.

People of Color and Schools

Harvard President Drew Faust unveils a portrait of The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church, 1974 – 2011. The portrait hangs in the Faculty Room of University Hall. The Honorable Deval Patrick and The Reverend Dr. Wendel “Tad” Meyer make remarks. Deval Patrick (from left), Drew Faust, Michael Smith, Tad Meyer, and artist Yuqi Wang unveil the painting. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Harvard President Drew Faust unveils a portrait of The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church, 1974 – 2011. The portrait hangs in the Faculty Room of University Hall. The Honorable Deval Patrick and The Reverend Dr. Wendel “Tad” Meyer make remarks. Deval Patrick (from left), Drew Faust, Michael Smith, Tad Meyer, and artist Yuqi Wang unveil the painting. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Read the full article here

Being in New England, I am connected to some of the most prominent schools in the nation. As I visit peer schools — I often look at the pictures on their walls as I tour different campuses. I also notice the pictures hanging on the walls here at Brooks. Yes — most are white men. I get lucky at times and find a female. That makes me happy. But never a person of color. Recently the late great Peter Gomes’s picture was displayed in Harvard’s faculty room. What does it say to the world when there are no images of people that are not white hanging from walls? What about the fact that places have not figured out how to make people of color feel welcomed? We are not aliens. New England prep schools and Harvard will argue and make excuses. Most places will. But the truth is in the numbers. Are we not part of the club? Prep schools are easy places to feel displaced. Independent schools are this way in general. And the conservative schools will make you feel like an outsider if you are not of the population norm. Harvard has made that all too clear by just now hanging a picture of a person of color. I love the late Peter Gomes. Good for Harvard. Boy it took you long enough. What does your campus look like? Why? Why are there no people of color? Why do they leave? Do you care to know.

My Classroom Visit

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.”

Holm's Class

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!”

Christ from the Hood

Today I am preparing a lesson/presentation titled “Why Christ was a Black Man from the Hood” as I teach a class hosted by my English department friend and colleague. I am ready to challenge students’ concept regarding the color of Christ and the modern relevancy of such day-to-day notions regarding the abstract conscious that drives our racial attitudes. I might just scare the hell out of them with this meme:

black-god