In 2012 Dr. Anthony Bradley edited, Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leader, Social Consciousness, & the Cosby Conversation. The intent of the book was to provide a critical and thoughtful examination of various issues within the black community and offer perspectives and solutions grounded in the rich theological tradition of Christianity. Dr. Bradley, as with all the contributors, make the strong argument significant change in the African American community will only occur when “the church will not be silent and sit on the sidelines while our communities and families decline” (p.188).
Keep Your Head Up, has influenced me to not simply look back but eagerly look forward to the possibilities of the future. Keep Your Head Up gave me the encouragement only God can invigorate the needed changes that will bring him the maximum glory. Second, the concept of personhood has been a significant influence in my own thinking about humans in general. I had to go outside my Protestant tradition and into the Catholic tradition to get some solid instruction on a Christian perspective of humanity. In the Gaudium et Spes which is a document of Vatican Council II (1965) the council stated the following,
“…this holy synod, in proclaiming humanity’s noble destiny and affirming that there exists in it a divine seed, offers the human race the sincere cooperation of the church in fostering a sense of sisterhood and brotherhood to correspond to their destiny.”
The conclusion of Keep Your Head Up and the intent of the Gaudium et Spes possess the same theme; humans-yes humans with skin like mine-have a noble destiny because we are image bearers of God. The Gaudium et Spes continues in its introduction that the Church which continues the work of Christ in the Holy Spirit is made able to accomplish this affirmation of man and woman’s dignity.
What are we to say about African American manhood today? It would be easy to consider the negative stereotypes, alarming statistics, and the standard media portrayal of the African American male. Instead African American males must work hard to rise above the negative trappings of a societies notions and determine for themselves a manner of life that reflects an identity which far exceeds the societal boundaries in which one exists. Our manner of life is to be a noble one that reflects the intentions of our Creator and not the societal intentions.
February has the designation of “Black History Month.” Generally, we take a moment to look back at all the great accomplishments, contributions, and figures who have moved this population of people forward in America. As I stated above, I eagerly look forward to the possibilities of the future because God is at work in the lives of African American men. Therefore, during this month I cordially invite you and your friends to read the stories and see the faces of men who are expressing the noble destiny that will one day find its fullness in Christ. You will hear from a professor, musical artist, U.S. Army Soldier, nonprofit organizer, and myself about our lives and hope specifically for African American men.
This is a Photobration and I would encourage you this month to photobrate the African American male who is making a difference in your life.
A very big thanks to Katie Opris for the awesome photography.
Bradley, A. (Ed.). (2012). Keep Your Head Up: America’s New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway.
Second Vatican Council (1965). Gaudium et Spes. In Flannery, A. (Ed.), Vatican Council II, The Basic Edition: Constitutions, Decrees, Declarations. Northport, New York: Costello Publishing.