• Vanessa Clark

The Color Crisis

African Americans have experienced the brunt of hatred, for the sake of America’s prosperous and thriving economy, slavery was its number one cash cow. Human beings from Africa were treated like cattle for 400 years, and now that we’ve entered into the year 2020, it seems that not much has changed. Racism is less blatant but, the economic status of African Americans is vile and astounding. Systemic racism is the beast behind the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of blacks in America and the only system that can save them is The Church.

Historically, the black church has been responsible for the health of the black community and has been the beating heart of its success. From the whispered cadences of hymns in cotton fields to the charismatic shouts of praise from today’s pulpits, God has always been in the DNA of the black community. Contrary to popular belief, The Gospel of Christ is NOT white, it’s red, and the beauty of it is its inclusivity. Jesus is not “the white man’s religion” but, Jesus supersedes every race, every color, and every colossal mistake humans have made. This divide within the black community only hurts the whole and when we come to understand that our anger towards past slave owners doesn’t have to taint our acceptance of Christ, then we’ll all be better for it. In spite of the way that the Gospel has been twisted to defend slavery, it still stands in opposition to all forms of oppression.

Of course, the black church has had its faults within the community. There have been injustices and mistakes along the way, yet it doesn’t negate that the institution of the church is divine and ordered by God. When we see a fallen pastor misrepresent the name of Jesus it would be wise of us to separate their actions from the entire Body of Christ. When society misplaces church leaders’ downfalls on the character of a perfect God it causes confusion, and worst of all, it creates distance between the lost and the saved.

The black church has produced a system of safety for its community and all who need it. The token “Praying Grandmother” with her door forever opened to the lost and wandering, was birthed out of this godly institution. She is the safe haven for children with incarcerated parents and teen moms, she is a rescuer of strays in the community; vagabonds who roam the streets. The “Praying Grandmother” is a symbol of strength because of her love but, most importantly, because of her faith in God. The black church cultivates and produces women of strength and faith and without them, our communities would crumble into nothing. Praying grandmothers are lights in the midst of ghettos and broken places that remind the black community of God’s faithfulness and love.

Although African Americans only make up 12% of America’s population, about 40% are incarcerated. Today, 75% of black households are missing their fathers due to imprisonment, homicide, and bad choices. The black preacher, at times, is the only father figure the black community has. To look upon a man anointed to lead and wrapped in melanin can be the only hope for our future generations to dream, to inspire them to succeed. When Daddy is gone and Uncle is on the corner selling, Pastor gives black families the faith to believe that black men in America stand for God and goodness. The black church is the system that combats a prison system that aims for black men, another form of free labor for America; instead of chains in fields, there are prison bars in the name of reformation. The black church oversees the families left to fend for themselves without fathers and ensures that that absence is felt a little less.

The structure of the black family is supported and enforced by the black church with Jesus at the center. Sunday dinners, holiday packages of love, funds for scholarships, community block parties, etc. The black church loves its community with all that it has. It is the system that rivals systemic racism, that keeps its lights on when the world goes dark, it provides housing to those who suffer from gentrification, and fuels the faith necessary to survive. Whether storefront or mega, the black church is imperative for the survival of the black community, it is the balm to the injustices that its community faces on a daily basis. As we await the return of Christ we have every confidence that His love for us goes beyond melanin and straight into our hearts where He resides.

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