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VOL VIII   NO. 3  MARCH  2007



Ashamed No More


Rev. Robert Kelley is the founder and president of Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc. and pastored the St. Mark Baptist Church of Portland, Oregon at the time this was published.


There are some added benefits that come to those Christian black Americans who with Holy Spirit renewed minds, adopt a biblical interpretation of our Western experience.  One of the most deeply regenerative of these benefits is the lifting of shame from being a descendant of slaves and a member of the "despised race."  Let´s be real, self-hate is a major problem among especially our black males.  When viewed from the perspective of a victim, slavery and all of the black experience (including family dysfunction) that follows engenders among many unresolved issues, hatred for whites as well as self fed by guilt and shame.


They all addressed it in some form, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm, Stokely, H. Rap, Huey and Dr. King.  So have our many poets, writers (Ralph Ellison´s The Invisible Man, was very poignant), artisans, musicians, behavioral scientists, academicians, playwrights, activists, hip-hop rappers, barbershop griots etc.  Self-hate is the constant theme of victimized black America because no sensible (or satisfactory) reason can be offered to explain the contempt, mistreatment and rejection blacks have had to endure at the hands of whites that profess themselves to be followers of a God of love!


As victims, many black men are also ashamed and hate themselves because of the inability to throw off the demoralization of forced humiliation begun in slavery and that continues to this day in many ways--job discrimination and police harassment, for example.  As other men, black men are wired to be warriors (and were fiercely so among the tribes of our West African ancestors), but through slavery found themselves powerless to fight. Alex Haley´s character, Kunta Kinte, captures the cause of black male anger, shame and self-loathing in Roots as he depicts the powerless and defeated West African warrior who finally says the name his master gave him, "Toby," at the end of a severe whipping.


Besides sharing those painful feelings before coming to Christ, I was also ashamed of the backwardness of our slave forefathers.  And black; why did they have to be so black?  I hated them for their weakness; I hated them because they seemed resigned to their fate.  Surely, contempt and shame for my slave forefathers and race were tied to the contempt I was taught for myself by persons and institutions of white society, but also sadly, blacks who hated and held each other in contempt!


Domestic and every other kind of violence, sexual molestation, child neglect, abuse, and abandonment are self-inflicted wounds among men and a people who do not think very highly of themselves.  Inside, a dark, twisted and confused mass of hate for absent or abusive family, neighbors, white society and self plays like a broken record; rising with sin to the surface after many burial attempts to fuel a vicious cycle of rage and self-destructive behavior.  Even now, my stomach turns remembering the fights of black men who it seems with every blow, sought to vent every ounce of hate from their souls by pounding on each other.


I did not really begin to love myself as a black man or my race until I became a Christian.  Standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ as a man, the Holy Spirit taught me the truth that in God´s love for the "world" He loved me just as I am; a black man He purposely created!  He sent His Son to die on the cross for me and my people as much as any others who make up humanity on the earth (John 3:16; Acts 17:26-27).  We then, have equal value and worth to the living God with all other men for He desires to save "whoever believes."


Another truth the Holy Spirit taught me as a sinner at the foot of the cross is the word "all" means all.  "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23, NKJV).  That means white men, red, yellow, brown and mixed men too, are equally sinners and condemned before God with black men.  The contempt in the hearts of whites toward our people comes from the same source as all human evil: sin with a whole lot of instigating help from Satan!  This does not excuse, but satisfactorily explains the how and why of the historic white contempt for and mistreatment of blacks.


One more very important truth the Holy Spirit taught me at the foot of the cross is Jesus Christ thereon drank from the cup of God´s wrath on behalf of all men (Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 26:36-44; John 18:10-11, 12-14, 19:1-30; Hebrews 2:5-18).  So, why does God´s cup of wrath continue to go forth in the earth according to the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:15-33?  For two reasons: the punishment of sins God once overlooked waiting for the time of Christ and the refusal of all men from every nation to repent and believe the Gospel about Him (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 1:18-2:11, 3:21-26)! In almost 2,000 years universal belief in Christ has never happened nor will it in this age.


As I stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ having by God´s mercy and grace equal access to His sin remedy through faith, I am ashamed no more.  I am a son of former slaves brought to this land from the tribes of West Africa who knew nothing of the language, culture or ways of white men, yet, were not inferior.  Black men, who were humbled ultimately not by the will or superior might of their captors, but God Almighty!  As such, they were as many came to see, His slaves to do His will!


Forgiven of my sins, I forgive; loved by God, I love by His Spirit; reconciled to God, I preach reconciliation to men near and far.  What joy, what freedom I, a black man have being the bondservant of Jesus Christ!  In this my self-esteem, sense of value and worth soar!

©2007 Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc