Musings of a Postmodern Negro

"During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism."- Howard Thurman

Name:
Location: United States

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Book Recommendation: Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures


I just finished Gibb's and Bolger's comprehensive work on the emerging church. I believe it captures the heart of many people in the emerging church conversation. Especially those of us that are seeking to participate in the missio Dei where we live. Great read.

Why Postmodern Negro?

I get this question from time to time. Why do you call yourself 'postmodernegro'? I know some feel that the term 'postmodern' is passe or that it has no relevance nor is it helpful.

It's simple really. I am actually playing with words. Postmodern speaks to the current cultural mood that we are in. One of transition. That we are going from something to something. Postmodernity, as a black man, speaks to me on a number of levels. One of those levels is the notion that postmodernity recognizes the transitory nature of identity. That we can change or be transformed into something else. Postmodernity's mood of transitory identity counters and subverts modernity's "fix-ness" of identity. For instance, David Hume's (one of the stars of modernity) conception of negro-hood's infantile-ness is not written in the stars. Hence the term 'negro'. Negro is a term that comes straight out of modernity. Negro is a term that comes from some of the bad habits of modernity (e.g. whiteness as normative and beauty vs. blackness as deviance and ugliness). Of course black folks took the term and re-fashioned it (think: Alain Lock's essay The New Negro). So in many ways being a negro is a form of subversive re-naming. To be a postmodern negro is essentially raising my middle finger to the essentialism of modernity and its characterizing of black folks as beasts, deviants, a problem, etc.. It is recognizing that the 'fixed' identities forced upon black folks is the Lie. In my own way naming myself a postmodern negro is my way of saying that only God can judge me...that only God can name me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Modernity and Race

Update:

Lately I have been dealing with some personal health issues that have prevented me from fully concentrating on these posts. I plan on giving a full spread on this issue. One of the things I have been reminded by friends is that alot my rhetoric seems to be finger pointing at white people. I have no interest in blaming white people, specifically white Christians, for anything. My interests lie in getting to the bottom of why the church is divided along racial/ethnic lines in a way that hinders us from disclosing God's presence in a more powerful and redemptive way. I am reminded by the words of Jesus about how our 'one-ness' discloses the heart and presence of God to an unbelieving world. So these post, I hope, will not be read as blaming white people. It is about getting to the heart of modernity and postmodernity and how they relate to the issue of race and ethnicity in the body of Christ.

*************************************************************************************

I have been on hiatus for a minute. Alot of things going on. But one thing that has captured my attention over the past several months has been the issue of race. Specifically how it relates to modernity. Many Christians in emerging and missional circles have launched some brilliant insights into modernity and how it has affected the theology and praxis of the church. But one issue that seems to allude much of this discourse. The racialization of Western culture that has its roots in Modernity. We have mastered the discourse concerning the consumerization and commodification of the church, the jingoism, foundationalist epistemologies that inform our theologizing and such. I think all of this is great. As a negro that has entered this conversation I can not seem to shake the almost total absence of one of the largest pathologies of modernity: the racialization of our consciousness. For instance, everytime I enter this discussion there is always the predictable response regarding someone's intention. My question now is this: do people intend to be captured by the ethos of commodification that dominates our culture? No...they don't. The same thing as the racialization of our consciousness. Many people encounter the world unintentionally in their own racialization. A person does not have to be intentionally racialized in order to be racialized in their orientation towards the 'other'. Just like a person doesn't have to be intentionally a participant in the commodification of the gospel to commodify the gospel. Get my point?

So...I am going to take a stab at something I think is important. Just like many in emerging church and missional circles they bring their perspectives to bear on various subjects regarding modernity and postmodernity I want to talk about the relationship between Modernity and the racialization of our society. I want to talk about the many voices that laid the foundations of Modernity. We talk about Kant and how he influenced Christian theologizing. But we talk very little about Kant's racialized view of the world that possibly influenced his philosophizing. We will talk about these voices. I won't be talking about the normal issues we see with modernity and postmodernity. I won't to talk about modernity as it relates to our racialization. Very little literature has been produced on this. Part of that reason is related to this topic. Much of the discourse on postmodernity, for instance, has been quite exclusive. Postmodernity, in many ways, with its emphasis of recognizing our situadness as human beings has not been able to shake the racialization I see inherent in much of modernist discourse.

Our first subject will be the philosopher Hegel.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ethnic Diversity Within the Church That Is Emerging

Rudy Carrasco has put together a list of people who are participants (at various levels) in the emerging church conversation countering the common stereotype that the emerging church is a white middle-class only club. While it is still over whelmingly white I would argue that it is now difficult to argue that there is 'no' diversity at all. Thanks Rudy for putting this together. Here are Rudy's thoughts:

I get asked a lot about whether the emerging church discussion is just something for white guys with two books under the arm and a budget to travel around to conferences. Of course, rarely does anyone ask it in precisely that way, but that's not far from a composite question. The answer is no. To be sure, there is dialogue happening at national events, in books and magazines, and on prominent blogs that often looks like the aforementioned caricature. But people who are familiar with Emergent and interested in the questions about church and culture, fixing what is broken, and epistemology, are diverse by geography, theological tradition, and ethnicity. You just may not be familiar with them. More here...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What would Hume and Kant say? The Holloways and the boycotting of Aruba



I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufacturers amongst them, no arts, no sciences. In Jamaica indeed they talk of one negro as a man of learning; but 'tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly.- David Hume, Of National Characters

Mr. Hume challenges anyone to cite a simple example in which a negro has shown talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who are transported elsewhere from their countries, although many of them have even been set free, still not a single one was ever found who presented anything great in art or science or any other praiseworthy quality, even through superior gifts earn respect in the world. So fundamental is the difference between the two races of man, and it appears to be as great in regard to mental capacities as in color.- Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime

My point? The perceived value of pigmentation and class can cause one to destroy the lives of thousands of people. This is most certainly a tragedy...but should an entire economy suffer?