Race: A Theological Account

By J. Kameron Carter | Go to book overview

4
Theologizing Race
James H. Cone, Liberation, and the Theological
Meaning of Blackness

What is one to make of these theologies of redness, blackness, or
blueness of deity and being? It is the intent and structure of theology
as a mode of discourse that is at stake.

—Charles H. Long, Significations: Signs, Symbols,
and Images in the Interpretation of Religion

When Christianity was introduced to slaves, Africans converted
it … by refusing to accept any version of the gospel that did
not harmonize with the African spirit of freedom … the African
personality.

—James H. Cone, “Black Worship,” in The Study of
Spirituality
, ed. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wain-
wright, and Edward Yarnold

James H. Cone’s theological interrogation of New World AfroChristian faith pioneers in the history of American theology. Its groundbreaking nature lies in its attempt to uncover the theological significance and political promise of black faith and existence given the racist practices and dispositions of America and, indeed, of modernity. These practices and dispositions are the practices and dispositions of whiteness, which, for Cone, is theological in nature. In short, they are the practices and dispositions of white theology. In contrast, Cone calls his own intellectual program a “black theology of liberation.” Its task has been to unmask the ideological superstructure of whiteness.

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