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Liberation Theology: Saving People Of Color From Oppression

2341 words - 10 pages

Theology is widely accepted as the study of God and religious beliefs. Liberation theology applies the study of God and religious beliefs, to the study and experience of racial, gender and class oppression. As such, liberation theology is a theology of, by, and for those doing (as in praxis) the theology and those in solidarity with them. Such reasoning has led to formations of various liberation theologies (Yellow, Red, and Black) that speak to various oppressed groups. From this line comes, the philosophy of Black liberation theology, which seeks to liberate people of color from multiple forms of political, social, economic, and religious subjugation by interpreting Christian theology as ...view middle of the document...

This in turn affirmed the humanity of the slaves in the face of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. Thus, the understanding of Christianity over time became different for Blacks than for Whites.
Black Theology of Liberation was not clearly articulated until the end of the Civil Rights era with James H. Cone’s books, Black Theology and Black Power in 1969, followed by A Black Theology of Liberation in 1970. In these, Cone defined “liberation as the essence of Jesus’ gospel in North America” (Hopkins 167). This ‘gospel’ was fostered in the Black Church. It expressed a socioeconomic and political agenda through the articulation of blackness (e.g. the experiences of the poor and the working class black folk) as the main place where God revealed God’s self to humanity. In other words, God worked through blackness to help in the liberation process (Hopkins 166). Putting God on the side of the oppressed has enabled African Americans to explore their history and reclaim its richness. In addition, it helped African Americans in affirming their blackness through self-love and with this, compassion for others.
What does this mean for the prospects of a White Liberation Theology? If Jesus is only found on the side of the oppressed and as such in blackness, what path to salvation is there for the White oppressor? Is there even a path?
One easy response to these questions as identified by Robert McAfee Brown in “Is Faith Obsolete” is that “Liberation theology is a distortion of the faith it purports to proclaim. Christianity brings about reconciliation while liberation glorifies conflict” (Bucher 525). On the other hand, in the book, Being White: Finding our Place in a Multiethnic World, Paula Harris and Doug Schaupp respond to the question of salvation for the White oppressor by returning to the book of Exodus and its story of the Israelites. It is important to note here that the story of the Israelite is also the basis of Black Liberation Theology and in returning to it, Harris and Schaupp are reassessing the meanings of their Whiteness from the margins. In doing so, Harris and Schaupp are able to identify their Whiteness with the oppression of Pharaoh and bring to light not only the subversive memory but also the subversive reality of White domination.
On a deeper level, Harris was able to see the parallels between the development of Egyptian privilege, through Hebrew slave labor, attempted genocide, and White American Privilege. She stated that,
“In retrospect it is easy enough to see how the system of racism and then slavery developed…European migration, Native American slavery, the devastation caused by the accidental spreading of European disease among Native peoples, the intentional exposure of Native people to European disease, the exploitation of intertribal warfare, and then finally genocide” (Harris and Schaupp 172).
Through Pharaoh, Harris can see the condemnation of the oppressor and in that, the condemnation of the...

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