Much is being made today of the state of the so-called “black community”.
Unfortunately, this is not breaking news.
The truth is much was being made of the black community in the 1960s…
…and the 1970s…
…and the 1980s…
…and the 1990s…
Well, you get the point.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word community is defined as:
- a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
- a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat
This is important to note because, in terms of “black community” as a social or ideological construct, we must understand that words have meaning and meaning requires context.
The Magic of Melanin
Given the above definitions, the assumption most people make when conceptualizing “black community” is that definition number two is the most contextually accurate, having reached that conclusion by likewise presupposing that definitions one and three are equally applicable.
They surmise because black people have a “particular characteristic in common” namely, melanin, there exists an inherent “feeling of fellowship” because, again, being black, we naturally “share common attitudes, interests, and goals”, and on that basis further assume that blacks prefer to “live together” in “specified habitats”.
In other words, get a group of black and brown-skinned people together in one place and – Voila! – like magic – “black community”.
See how easy that was?
It is a mindset that gives little or no consideration whatsoever to the uniqueness of one’s God-given personhood. No thought at all to the diversity of ideological and philosophical worldviews or the uniqueness of one’s cultural or societal experiences.
The idea of ‘black community” merely assumes that to be of a certain shade of melanin is to be in “community” – ideologically, philosophically, politically, and theologically – with others who likewise are of a similar skin color.
It is the cultural equivalent of making instant oatmeal for breakfast, only instead of hot water “just add melanin”.
The absurdity of such logic should be obvious to anyone.
And yet the assumptions don’t end there.
Losing Our Religion
There are those today who would have us believe the aforementioned assumptions are representative of a mindset that is exclusive to white people.
But I assure you it is not.
There are countless black Americans who hold to the conviction that merely being black suffices as a juxtaposition for “community,” and that any differences that may exist between us who are black should be sacrificed on the altar of our common skin color.
I use the term altar quite deliberately.
For what was once universally regarded as a righteous (biblical) cause, that is, the pursuit of social justice as an imago Dei issue (Gen. 1:27), has morphed into its own religion in which race and ethnicity are exalted as objects of worship in and of themselves.
Like the Israelites of old who constructed and venerated a golden calf at Mount Sinai (Ex. 32:1-6), there are today those who, under the more commonly accepted notion of “black community”, have fashioned for themselves a radical Jesus who is worshiped for His “social consciousness”, while devaluing the redemptive Jesus whose atoning death on the cross forever bridged the immeasurable divide between a holy God and sinful mankind (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:4-7, 13-17.)
The ramifications of such a partitioned Christology is an apologetic that is grounded primarily in the Jesus who confronted the moneylenders (Matt. 21:12-13), but to the exclusion of the Jesus who preached the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12).
Consequently, the clenched fist has replaced the cross as the symbol of our salvation, thereby inverting the very idea of salvation so that it is no longer God who redeems us but we ourselves through our own socio-ethno efforts at self-redemption.
This is problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is when your definition of salvation changes, so does your paradigm of who and what can deliver you and from what you must be delivered.
A New “Great Commission”?
Jesus did not tell His followers to organize themselves into an 11-person “movement” so as to “impact the culture” and free themselves of the political and religious oppression they endured under Roman rule.
If such an man-centered approach could have accomplished the kind of salvation Christ had in mind in sacrificing Himself on the cross, it stands to reason He would have instructed His disciples accordingly. That He did not has proven difficult to accept for many within the “black community”, who would rather protest than pray.
There can be no “community” where you and I have nothing in common.
Melanin does not shape my morality.
My ethics are not influenced by my ethnicity.
The notion of “black community” will remain a myth, a phantasm, a mirage, if we persist in segregating the ideals that should define ‘unity’ from those of the gospel of Christ, which alone has the power to unite all of us under one common mission regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality (Acts 17:26-27).
Unless the gospel of Christ serves as the impetus of our desire for and pursuit of community – the kind that is rooted in the condition of our heart and not the color of our skin – we will continue buying into to the myth of “black community” but with absolutely no tangible evidence to support such a notion (Ps. 127:1).
As followers of Christ, we must remain mindful that the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28 commands us to make disciples of all nations not social justice warriors (Jn. 18:36).
And, to that end, I gladly acknowledge that I am not a social justice warrior.
Nor do I aspire to be.
Just call me a disciple of Christ.
I’m good with that.
Humbly in Christ,