Orientalism by Edward W. Said

By Edward W. Said

The famous critic and a Palestinian now educating at Columbia University,examines the way the West observes the Arabs.

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It was not of freedom from the oppression of sin or of the bonds of the flesh that these early Blackamericans sang in their spirituals; it was of liberation from the bitter plight of bondage and racial subjugation. 48 From this perspective, the corporate Blackamerican approach to Christianity would be, to say the least, patently unique. White missionaries and church leaders were relentless in voicing their frustration at what they deemed to be the superficiality of Negro conversion. ”49 Nevertheless, the marriage between Black Religion and Christianity continued into the nineteenth century.

This obsession with the image of Africa is reflected in the names of many of the independent Black churches that emerge from the latter part of the eighteenth century, for example, the African Methodist Church or the African Methodist Zion Church. It would go on to influence quasi-religious movements in the twentieth century, from Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa enterprise to Maulana Karenga’s Kwanzaa to Molefe Asante’s Afrocentricity. Like all romanticisms, this particular feature of Black Religion was especially given to excess.

55 Not only would Blackamerican obliviousness to European/American liberalism promote theological conservatism, it would sustain a palpably conservative social ethic as well, including an unabashed patriarchal impulse, a no-nonsense folk morality, and a stark gender differentiation that militated strongly against andrognyny, especially in the form of the emasculation of Blackamerican men. 56 A second additional contribution of Black Religion to Black Christianity is reflected in the latter’s focus on Africa as the locus of its longing and belonging.

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