The Emergence of Black Power

Black Power functions as an ideological base of spiritual awareness for those blacks who realize the spiritual dimension of their humanity, but who cannot identify or intimately associate with what they conceive to be a white, blue-eyed Jesus—a Jesus who negates the humanity of their blackness, a Jesus who demands that they whiten their souls in order to save them.

Black Power as a subjective and objective force does not pretend to be able to meet the spiritual needs of blacks. But, as advocated and developed by individual blacks and black organizations, it does contain a body of impressions about what role religion ought to play in the life of the "new black person."

Black Power indicates to a black person that any experience with God, in light of one's everyday exploitation and persecution, is only real and beneficial if that God can actively empathize with him and act against those forces which set out to destroy him. Black Power indicates that God must be made over into an image and likeness consistent with redefined blackness: God must be able to deal with black children who are victimized daily by poor education, malnutrition, rats, and roaches; a black man who has been unemployed for five years; a black mother whose young son recently died of lead poisoning from eating fallen paint in a dilapidated apartment; a young black student who senses the shame and hypocrisy of the so-called democratic ideals of the white world.

In reality God must become black. He must become the God not of "the sweet by and by," but of the bitter here and now.

Reprinted from Your God Is Too White by Ron Behm and Columbus Salley.

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