During Bill Moyers’ interview with Rev. Wright, they discussed shame in the African American community. I learned a lot in this section from what Wright had to say. He led efforts to overcome this sense of shame, one that stems of our society overlooking African Americans and African culture. Wright remarked that it comes from the misguided notion that “Africans are ignorant; there is no African history, there is no African music, there is no African culture, anything related to
Wright pointed out that other minority groups have a certain sense of ethnic identity. For example, Chinese immigrants form “
Africans come, they're colored. They're Negro. They're anything but
Africa. In fact, we don't even call them Ebbu, Ebibu, Fulani, Fanti, Ga, no, no, no -- they're all "Negro." Portuguese, "Negro" Spanish. They're all gettin' lumped into black, but we're not black, we are Negro with a capital N.
Many from the majority culture, if they see a Cuban person who is black, a Ugandan who is black, or a native Texan who is black, they lump these individuals into one category, while these three people would have very different backgrounds.
Christianity plays a part in furthering this shame. Wright shares:
The shame of being a descendant of
Africa, was a shame that had been pumped into the minds and hearts of Africans from the 1600s on, even aided and abetted by the benefit of those schools started by the missionaries, who simply carried their culture with them into the South and taught their cultures being synonymous with Christianity. So that to become a Christian, you had to let go of all vestiges of Africa and become European, become New Englanders and worship like New England, worship God properly and right. Well, that shame was a part of the shame that many Africans in the '60s and the '70s were feeling.
So that is the context in which
Wright discusses the attitude after King was assassinated, when black college students decided to focus on their own tradition and sing things like gospel music instead of European-based music:
We're gonna do our people. We're gonna do our culture. We're gonna do our history. And we're gonna embrace it and not put-- to say one is superior to the other. Because we are different. And different does not mean deficient, that we just different like snowflakes. We're different. We talk about God of diversity? God has diverse culture, God has -and we're proud of who we are because that's the statement the congregation was making, not a race-based theology.
Wright also mentioned in the interview that he strived to instill in the children at his church a faith that was not Euro-centric. Trinity installed large stained-glass windows that do not include historically-unrealistic white-skinned figures. Wright shares an anecdote where he reminded some kids that a lot of what happened between Genesis and Revelation happened in
He says a lot of important things that the white church would be wise to listen to. It’s too bad he’s been demonized lately.