Tuesday, April 03, 2007

James Cone Revisited

Several years ago I read most of what James Cone has written in the space of a few weeks. You can find my short review of several of his books here. I have (at least) a few new readers, so I thought I would highlight a couple great paragraphs from his book Black Theology and Black Power. It has amazing relevance today, though written in 1969. He could be talking about America's foriegn policy, or race relations in Miami.


Reconciliation does not transcend color, thus making us all white. The problem of values is not that white people need to instill values in the ghetto; but white society itself needs values so that it will no longer need a ghetto. Black values did not create the ghetto; white values did. Therefore, God’s Word of reconciliation means that we can only be justified by becoming black. Reconciliation makes us all black. Through this radical change, we become identified totally with the suffering of the black masses. It is this fact that makes all white churches anti-Christian in their essence. To be Christian is to be one of those whom God has chosen. God has chosen black people!

It is to be expected that many white people will ask: “How can I, a white man, become black? My skin is white and there is nothing I can do.” Being black in America has very little to do with skin color. To be black means that your heart, your soul, your mind, and your body are where the dispossessed are. We all know that a racist structure will reject and threaten a black man in white skin as quickly as a black man in black skin. It accepts and rewards whites in black skins nearly as well as whites in white skins. Therefore, being reconciled to God does not mean that one’s skin is physically black. It essentially depends on the color of your heart, soul, and mind. Some may want to argue that persons with skins physically black will have a running start on others; but there seems to be enough evidence that though one’s skin is black, the heart may be lily white. The real questions are: Where is your identity? Where is your being? Does it lie with the oppressed blacks or with the white oppressors? Let us hope that there are enough to answer this question correctly so that America will not be compelled to acknowledge a common humanity only by seeing that blood is always one color.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Marquito said...

Wow! Red Flag!

This guy comes from a "Liberation Theology" perspective? Last time I checked, in Latin America most Liberation Theology folks are affiliated with the Communist party. By nature of this association (without knowing him or his writings mind you, I wonder how much Trotsky political correctness plays into his views?

Race conversations these days are interesting, because views are so varied. I think you would be surprised at mine. We'll have to talk about it some day.

2:01 PM, April 09, 2007  
Blogger W Sofield said...

Sure, he is from a "Liberation Theology" perspective, but quite different in many ways than the Latin versions.

I disagree strongly with Cone in many places. I much prefer King's Black Theology (which I would suspect the early Cone would regard as too soft on racism). Should there be any question on this, follow the link to my review of several of Cone's books. Nonetheless, I think Cone is tremendously helpful in many ways, too.

I'd love to talk with you someday about race issues. A passion of mine, to be sure.

2:08 PM, April 09, 2007  

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