It is important to affirm that none of these things are categorically unique to the Black Church, but they are beautifully manifested in the Black Church.
This signals a commitment not only to the historically Black Church tradition in the United States but also all cultural expressions of Christianity in the African Diaspora. The face of Christianity has been changing for quite some time now. As the geographical center of Christianity has moved to the global South and as we remember the importance of North Africa in the development and spread of Christianity, we must continue to learn from our African brothers and sisters.
This signals a commitment to the particular theological questions that being Black in America and Black in the world forces one to face. For example, apologetically, why ought one ascribe to a faith that has been so often weaponized against Black life? What ought to be the role of traditional African religions in helping to understand Christianity? How do the particularities of being a Black woman in America shape one's understanding of what freedom in Christ looks like? These questions, however, are not siloed by Black experience. They are questions that ultimately flesh out the preaching, biblical interpretation, and pastoral care that the worldwide church engages in. In short, these are not only Black questions. These are Christian questions.
Perhaps nothing is more helpful in our understanding of racialization than history. The history of the Black Church in America is a history of resilience in the face of persecution and violence and the Church has always had much to teach us in the midst of suffering. Thus, a robust historical reckoning lies at the core of this program: a recognition that in order to press forward, we must understand where we have been and how we got to where we are.
Herein we find the marriage of doctrine and ethics often present in the Black theological tradition. Throughout the history of this nation, Black people have never had the luxury to divorce ethics and theology; rather, who God is has always been linked to what God requires of us. As it was for the Old Testament prophets, systemic oppression has been a theological and ethical focus for many Black churchwomen and men and it has necessarily been so for survival within the persecuted church. The global and American church then have much to learn from the proclamatory and prophetic elements of the Black Church.