Blackness as an idol?
I remember graduating from the University of Michigan and being a part of Black Celebratory, (a special graduation ceremony for Black graduating students). I was sitting with my fellow graduates from the men of H.E.A.D.S. a Black male support group at the University of Michigan.
As we stood tall and our families looked on, the sounds of the Black National Anthem filled the majestic hall. Then all at once, H.E.A.D.S. members reverently bowed their heads and raised their fists in the air. My eyes were closed and I was humbled almost to the point of tears as I thought about all my ancestors that dreamed of an America where one day Black people would not be denied access to institutions of higher learning. It was a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I can think of countless situations where my Blackness (and all the trappings thereof) has served as a source of pride and inspiration. But as a Christian, I wonder if my love of being Black has served as an idol to the point where it interferes with my relationship with God. (Note: This issue is not unique to Black people. Any ethnicity could be used and the logic would still apply)
But let’s take a step back though. For those of you who are Christian, the Bible says this in Exodus 20:4 regarding idols,
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
It is my belief that anything can become an idol and therefore a stumbling block in our Christian walk. To our detriment, there are too many value judgments on would be idols. For example, I play online chess (a lot) and I think it is fair to say that most people would consider this activity to be fairly neutral. However, if I started to play online chess to the point where I neglected praying, reading the Bible, going to church, etc. then it is safe to say that online chess has become an idol in my life.
I think this same logic can be applied to Black people’s love of their Blackness (and all the trappings thereof). Lest I be misunderstood, I know you can love God and love being Black. Let me explain this from a different angle. Let’s assume that Blackness is a crime and you are under surveillance but the Black police you can’t see your skin. Your being convicted is based on what you say, where you go, what you watch, what you read, what you listen to, and how you generally live your life. If you are Black, I think that most of us would be arrested immediately because we wear our Blackness so proudly.
Now let’s assume that Christianity is a crime while we use the same surveillance parameters. How long would it take before you were arrested? Would you be arrested at all?
I think it is safe to say that many of us do a much better job promoting our love for Blackness as opposed to our love for God. Now does this mean that Blackness is an idol for you? I would say not necessarily but that is for you to figure out. So is there anything in your life that prevents you from getting closer to God? If it is TV, then it’s easy to just turn it off, but if it is your Blackness, you can’t turn it off so how do we find the proper balance?