“Cone and Baldwin: the problem of white dominion and the death of white Christianity”
If one wants to get a better understanding of James Cone’s righteous rage, just read James Baldwin. Cone repeatedly admits the enormous influence of Baldwin on his own thought & the way he writes about whiteness as power and dominion, white supremacy as a system, & theology’s racial identity.
James Cone interrogates and thus challenges an entire (white) theological system and (white) christian ethical framework that do not live up to the biblical standard of righteousness and justice. He refutes white American theology because of its silence on black pain & suffering, and black death. He debunks white theological vision of God, humanity, & the world because it is built structurally on the strict doctrine of white supremacy & white racial dominion. Cone understands that (theological) ideas have consequences…and black and brown people in America have become victims of those consequential ideas. Yet he presses that Christian actions bear more consequences in this life and the life to come.
In the same vein, Baldwin calls for the destruction of white supremacy that holds the black and brown body captive, and he also urges America to abandon the false Christianity that sustains the power and dominion of whiteness. Baldwin’s clarion call for the death of white dominion in America is akin to Cone’s urgent message to reject white American Christianity and theology. Baldwin’s vision of America’s redemption is grounded on an alternative world that begins with a fresh vision of American history and identity, and one that will reassess the dignity and worth of America’s black and brown citizens— without forgetting America’s past.
Both thinkers were aware that America’s dominant religion, white Christianity, and the internal force and system, white supremacy and dominion, that created a subhuman category and a marginalized citizenship in the American society needed to die for the total emancipation of this great nation. In other words, white dominion, supported by the narratives and perceptions of white Christianity, is a theological heresy.
James Cone and James Baldwin envisioned an alternative American narrative that is anti-white dominion and a new American saga that desecrates all the sacred places and functions whiteness embodies in the American society, as well as all the geopolitical zones and anti-black and brown narratives race sanctifies, concurrently.