Will black folks like The Passion?

I really hope I'm wrong about this but I'll say it anyway. If only so someone can prove me wrong. I came across this post today at American Black, "Why Black Folks Won't Like The Passion". It made me start thinking about the response of black Christians to this movie. It has often been my experience that black churches tend to be light on things like doctrine, theology, and evangelism. The greatest emphasis I have seen in many black churches is not on teaching scripture but on giving a good performance and evoking emotional response.

There is an element within black Christianity for whom the purpose of forming a church is not so much to spread the gospel but rather to spread their version of the gospel. I grew up in New York City where, in some neighborhoods, there was a church on every block. On some blocks there were churches just doors from each other. Why? Not because there were so many believers that there needed to be lots of congregations to accommodate them all. The joke in my family was that the name of the church was larger than the church. There were so many churches because of the cult of personality. Every man or woman who could gather a handful of followers to themselves went off to start their own church so they could do things their own way. In more affluent black communities there are budding mega-churches. The more successful pastors bring in the people and the money.

Having said all of that I don't think The Passion of the Christ will be a big thing in the black community. Not so much because black people are disgruntled that the character of Jesus was not played by a black actor or that there were no black actors gratuitously scattered throughout the crowds. Black folks won't like The Passion because they won't consider it black enough to be worthy of their attention.

There is a standard in black America for what is black and what is not. Only those things considered black enough make it onto the radar of most black folk in America. The Passion just doesn't seem to meet the standard of blackness. It is not about slavery, it is not about racism, it is not about how whitey keeps the black man down, and it is not a romanticized version of African history. This film is also being embraced by whites which serves to add to it's un-blackness. Anything that is embraced by whites is considered suspect.

Prince C. at American black gives this rather telling reason for not seeing the movie, "I have no real interest in seeing it. The timing is bad for me. The right is already shoving judges, censorship and hate down our throats. They are too excited about this flick for me to give it a chance right now." One can only assume that "they" means the white right who presumably have some sinister motivation for liking this movie. His sentiments are likely a good representation of the mood in the black community concerning this movie. How unfortunate.


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