White moderates who have sincerely worked to ameliorate the situation of blacks within our society are constantly perplexed as they try to understand the dynamics of black activism in our time. In 1966–67, after a coalition of non-violent blacks and white liberals worked for integration as a national goal, the majority group suddenly heard of black power. Similarly, after seeking to meet the black community at least half-way in theological matters, moderate and liberal churchmen heard to their astonishment the assertion that only a black theology would help blacks fulfill their needs.

The term black theology seems at the moment to be a nebulous one; the system is still being articulated by the black theological community. While it no longer frightens the white community as did the term black power, it does need some explanation. Black radicalism in general takes two forms. On the one hand, there is the radical political movement, which finds its most concrete institutional form in the Black Panther party. This group seems obsessed with the idea that the root of the basic ills of our society, including racism, is to be found in the capitalistic order, which it vows to destroy.

On the other hand, there are the black cultural radicals. These radicals are concerned primarily with racial identity. They insist upon a return to the cultural roots of black men and women, a recapture of the sense of blackness. Their immediate goal is to achieve an identity distinct from the dominant white culture. In some cases, they seek to make common cause with the advocates of a white youth subculture, which also seeks to achieve identity upon the basis of visible differences between itself and the white cultural milieu.

The movement toward a black ...

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