Best of Emerge Magazine [NOOK Book]


The 1990s. African Americans achieved more influence–and faced more explosive issues–than ever before. One word captured those times. One magazine expressed them. Emerge.

In those ten years, with an impressive circulation of 170,000 and more than forty national awards to its credit, Emerge became a serious part of the American mainstream. Time hailed its “uncompromising voice.” The Washington Post declared that Emerge “gets better with each ...
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Best of Emerge Magazine

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The 1990s. African Americans achieved more influence–and faced more explosive issues–than ever before. One word captured those times. One magazine expressed them. Emerge.

In those ten years, with an impressive circulation of 170,000 and more than forty national awards to its credit, Emerge became a serious part of the American mainstream. Time hailed its “uncompromising voice.” The Washington Post declared that Emerge “gets better with each issue.” Then, after nearly a decade, Emerge magazine closed its doors. Now, for the first time, here’s a collection of the finest articles from a publication that changed the face of African American news.

From the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Bill Clinton impeachment . . . from the life of Louis Farrakhan to the death of Betty Shabazz . . . from reparations for slavery to the rise of blacks on Wall Street . . . the most important people, topics, and turning points of this remarkable period are featured in incisive articles by first-rate writers.

Emerge may have ended with the millennium, but–as this incomparable volume proves–the quality of its coverage is still unequaled, the extent of its impact still emerging. Stirring tribute, uncanny time capsule, riveting read–The Best of Emerge Magazine is also the best of American journalism.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This whopper of an anthology perfectly captures black life and culture as offered through Emerge. Launched in 1989, the award-winning magazine provided an animated, informative alternative to mass media until its demise in June 2000. This retrospective volume is journalism at its best: probing, controversial and serious. In loose juxtaposition, American Society of Magazine Editors president Curry presents (with more than 100 columns) a mosaic of issues that resonate in the black community. A popular magazine written in a popular style, Emerge was radical in its treatment of the black condition as the human condition. Naturally, famous writers appear, including Dick Gregory, Walter Mosley, Clarence Thomas and Maxine Waters. So, too, do newsworthy major events, lest readers forget the loss of Emmet Till (lynching) or Ron Brown (airplane crash). Besides terrific writing and coverage of important news, though, Emerge had unusual breadth. It dipped into biblical scholarship, environmental issues, for-profit prisons, the Internet, the brokering of businesses and medical research. It taunted double standards: the targeting of black congressmen, genocide in Rwanda. Its coverage stretched around the world, to Kosovo, Brazil, Cuba and Japan. It kept an eye close to home, too, taking in radio talk-show hosts, Miss Apollo and churchwomen. Emerge knew how to laugh at strategies for getting away from long awards dinners. Although Emerge was devoted unequivocally to African-Americans, Curry's vision and editorship of this book will instruct, provoke and sometimes entertain or inspire any reader. (On sale July 29) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
During its short run, Emerge, an award-winning magazine focusing on African American issues, gained a critical following. This compendium of the magazine's finest articles, collected by former editor in chief Curry, encompasses about eight years of Emerge's history, from 1993 through 2000, when the final issue was published. A strong core group of writers is complemented by pieces from guest authors such as Nelson George and Tananarive Due. Although Emerge did publish themed issues, this volume contains a mix of historical analysis and current events on a wide array of topics. Despite a compelling mix of articles and topics, it lacks a logical organizing principle. Also, a few of the articles for which Emerge won awards are not included here. Scanning article titles, though, it seems feasible that at least one of these articles was dropped to avoid duplicating content. Even the addition of illustrations does not make up for organizational difficulties, and the size and weight of this trade paperback make it difficult to handle. On the whole, however, this is certainly a worthwhile purchase for libraries that do not hold the original run of Emerge issues. Libraries already holding original issues may safely pass.-Audrey Snowden, Simmons Coll., Boston Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307514158
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/19/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 688
  • File size: 6 MB

Read an Excerpt

is Jesus black?


His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

—Revelation 1:14–15 (King James Version)

In African-American churches across the United States, traditional depictions of a White, blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus are being replaced with images of a savior with dark skin, brown eyes and kinky locks. From the pulpit to the pews, Black worshipers are looking for a reflection of themselves in the Jesus they serve.

But apart from the works of artists and the popular grassroots movements to have all European images of biblical personalities removed from African-American churches, there is a growing movement among Black biblical scholars to set the record straight and to declare, through critical scholarship, that there is valid reason to believe that Jesus Christ, if not Black, was most certainly “a person of color.”

The idea of a Black Jesus is not new, says James Cone, the Briggs Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York and one of the scholars who espoused a theology of Black liberation in the 1960s. In the 19th century, Black nationalist Robert Young made that assertion; Bishop Henry McNeal Turner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church often stated, “God Is a Negro,” and Marcus Garvey later argued the same theme.

The difference today, says Cone, is that “Black scholars, for the first time—certainly since the 1960s—have begun to realize that they can challenge the dominant White theological establishment.”

In what is described as a “reappraisal of ancient biblical traditions,” this new breed of Black biblical scholars are challenging long-standing views about who Jesus was, where He came from and what He looked like, and they are debunking many of the popular racial myths purported to be biblical interpretations.

“It is an understandable concern of African-Americans, given our history in this country and given the way the Bible and Scriptures have been used against us,” says the Rev. Renita J. Weems, assistant professor of the Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University School of Divinity in Nashville, referring to whether it should matter to Black people if Jesus is or is not a person of color.

“We have been told our color is a curse, and all our images of God and biblical personalities have been European,” Weems says. “It would be a correction of at least two or three centuries of racial oppression. It should be a concern, but I’m not sure it should be a preoccupation.”

At issue are the teachings of European scholars who have “de-Africanized” the Bible in their interpretations and who view Blacks, Afro-Asiatics and other people of color as essentially unimportant to a biblical exegesis.

Some European scholars consider the argument that Jesus was a person of color to be negative, revisionist history, while African-American scholars consider it positive, corrective history. In short, contemporary Black biblical scholars have upped the ante and staked their own claim on the Holy Scriptures.

“Artists, writers and people of renown or people who are of astute minds have always sought to correct things when they find that they are incorrect,” says James W. Peebles, publisher and compiler of the Original African Heritage Study Bible. His company, Winston-Derek Publishers Group, of Nashville, turned to scholars such as the Rev. Cain Hope Felder, professor of New Testament language and literature at Howard University Divinity School in Washington, D.C., to help develop a Bible that, says Peebles, “puts everything back into focus.”

For instance, in footnotes to the account of the crucifixion of Jesus in Mark 15:21 and Matthew 27:32, the Original African Heritage Study Bible states that Simon of Cyrene, the man called upon to carry the cross of Jesus as the Roman soldiers led him out to be crucified, was an African visitor to Jerusalem. He had come from the province of Cyrenaica in northern Libya, where many Black people lived.

This Easter season, many African-Americans will worship with the added knowledge that the man who helped to carry their savior’s cross—and the man on the cross—were people of color, much like themselves.

This is more than just an academic exercise.

Black biblical scholarship has given comfort to African-American religious communities that have become discontented with European images and biblical interpretations that suggest Blacks contributed little to the biblical narrative, that they come from a cursed race (Genesis 9:25–27) and that they were destined in the Scriptures to be the slaves of other nations. In Genesis 10 are the descendants of Noah’s sons. These scriptures, and others, were used as justification, first for the enslavement of Blacks in America, and then for the legalization of racial segregation and discrimination.

Black church denominations, including Protestant and Catholic, are publicly addressing the issue of racism in religion.

Some predominantly White mainline denominations, evangelical groups and ecumenical organizations also are studying the issue of racism within the church. Even after such reviews, some Whites have not altered their vision of Jesus. Some openly question whether an Afrocentric view of the Bible, with a Jesus of color at the center, is nothing more than a kind of me-ism and false pride that could become a barrier between the races.

“I think what has happened in the past is that people in the dominant culture—the White, European culture—have imposed their understanding of God upon other people throughout the world,” explains Cone, “and therefore, as long as Whites imposed that position upon the African-American community and made them accept the White God, everything was fine, and that was regarded as objective and true.”

Now that European truths are no longer readily accepted and African-Americans and other people of color have begun to critically evaluate what they have been taught, there is a new level of racial tension.

“White scholars get angry, and they say all we get into is kind of ‘everybody’s view of God is just as good as anybody else’s,’ and that’s not true,” says Cone. “What we are saying is that if we are going to come up with a God that is good for everybody, then everybody has to be a part of that debate.

“It is not God who does all this talking, it is human beings who do it. It is human beings who write books, do theology and do biblical and scientific work. And we know that human beings are not perfect; therefore, they need to be challenged, and they need to be challenged with evidence.”

In the Book of Acts, Chapter 8, is the well-known account of the roadside baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, a high treasury official in the court of Candace, the Ethiopian queen. Earlier in the text (Acts 2) is the account of Jews from Mesopotamia, Egypt and Libya near Cyrene who were at Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples and followers, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

An important fact of biblical history is that the Church at Antioch in Syria (Acts 11) is recognized as the first Christian church and is where the term “Christian” came into use. Footnotes in the Original African Heritage Study Bible attribute 50 percent of the prophets and teachers in the Church at Antioch as persons of color, with Acts 13:1 giving particular attention to two of them: Simeon, called “Niger,” a Latin term for “black,” and Lucius, of Cyrene.

But beyond interpreting important personalities of the Bible as Black or of African descent, African-American scholars have declared that Jesus himself was a person of color.

Two of the most popular and often-cited passages to buttress this idea are Revelation 1:14–15 and Daniel 7:9, which describe the African features of the Messiah: “hairs were white like wool” and “feet like unto fine brass.”

In addition to references, Black scholars have turned to historical, anthro-pological and archaeological data, as well as biblical hermeneutics to make their case. Much of the discussion centers around the ancient Mediterranean world and, specifically, Canaan, which is known today as Palestine and was called the “Promised Land.” In biblical times, it was located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Other areas are the Fertile Crescent, called the Near East; Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; Ethiopia, called Cush; and Egypt, one of the major military powers in biblical times.

Ancient recorders such as Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth cen-tury B.C., in Herodotus’ History, described Egyptians as Black and “having wooly hair.” And in their art, Egyptians depicted themselves as people with reddish brown, yellow and black skin tones.

The ancient cultures of the Bible were quite unlike modern society, with its overt color prejudices. In biblical times, people were more concerned with ethnic groups than skin color.

“People of antiquity were aware of color differences, but people were not categorized according to the color differences,” explains Weems, who also is a noted author. “Given what we know of people of color in that region, there were no European people. Even as we look at pictures of people of the Mediterranean region, we see people who are very brown in pigmentation.”

And there was a great amount of social exchange between people. “It was an important trade route that connected Egypt with the rest of the world,” she adds.

Some clergy maintain that African-Americans have been misguided in their understanding of the geography of the Scriptures, largely because Europeans were cast in the starring role as the people who gave us the Bible. A true picture of the region’s geography was further hampered when the approximately 105-mile Suez Canal was built between 1859 and 1869, separating Asia from Africa. Subsequently, this region was renamed the Middle East.

“The picture one gets from the biblical references, historical information and geographical considerations, is that the biblical people of the Middle East, which would include Jesus, were not nordic Caucasian but a mixture of Semitic and Hamitic people who were dark- and olive-skinned,” notes a pamphlet titled, What Color Was Jesus?, published by Urban Ministries of Chicago, the nation’s largest independent African-American publisher of Sunday and vacation Bible school materials.

It maintains, as many Black scholars do, that the Gospel traveled west from Palestine to Italy and Europe, thus reversing the traditional teaching that Europeans brought Christianity to Africa. “Artists like Michelangelo painted Jesus and other biblical characters like themselves in order that Europeans could relate to them more easily . . . people all over the world do the same today,” says its literature.

It is not unusual for people to create images out of their own history and culture. What is unusual is that Black people, for so long, have used images out of European and White culture for their idea of God. “It is not unusual to go to China and see God looking like the Chinese,” Cone says, “or go to Japan and see God . . . coming out of Japanese culture.”

There are certain accepted facts in Black biblical scholarship that appear repeatedly in writings and discussions: The people of Egypt were dark-skinned; Egypt is in North Africa, not today’s “Middle East”; Blacks traditionally have been described as descendants of Ham (Genesis 10); and that the Israelites mixed with the descendants of Ham.

“Mary, the mother of Jesus was Afro-Asiatic and probably looked like a typical Yemenite, Trinidadian or African-American of today,” says Felder, who is founder and chairman of the Biblical Institute for Social Change, housed at Howard University, and general editor of the Original African Heritage Study Bible.

Matthew 2 relates the story of Mary and Joseph’s harrowing escape from King Herod, who sought to kill the young child who had been declared to be King of the Jews. Herod wanted no competition as supreme ruler. An angel of the Lord came to Joseph and told him to flee into Egypt with his wife and child and to stay there, in safety, until the Lord called him out of Egypt. Black scholars believe the family of Jesus was dark enough to blend in with the people of Egypt and not draw attention to themselves.

“Imagine the divine family as Europeans hiding in Africa. This is quite doubtful,” Felder submits, taking the position that Egypt has always been a part of Af-rica, despite European scholarship that places Egypt at the southern extension of Europe.

Randall C. Bailey, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and chairman of Bible studies at Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center, says, “Sometimes the methods used to deny the presence of Africans within the text have been subtle. Other times they have been not so subtle.”

Bailey suggests turning to biblical maps, where one is likely to find very little of Africa. The key to the map may even be placed in the space where Africa is, he adds, “which conveys to the reader that this is wasted space, unimportant.”

Some maps, he says, show only ancient Israel, while others show the Fertile Crescent, Rome, Greece and Asia-Minor in great detail but very little of what is ancient Africa. Books have even located Cush, ancient Ethiopia, outside of Africa. Ethiopia is mentioned in the Scriptures more than fifty times, and Egypt more than six hundred times, giving poignancy to Bailey’s argument.

Many of today’s Black scholars are building on the works of Charles B. Copher, professor emeritus of the Old Testament and a former vice president for academic affairs at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Copher, who holds a doctorate in biblical studies from Boston University, is considered the “dean” of this new school of African-American biblical scholarship for his work in the 1940s on Black biblical hermeneutics and the Black presence in the Old Testament.

“Many Blacks are coming today to take a new look at Jesus Christ when it is stated that he is Black or African,” says the Rev. Walter A. McCray, author of The Black Presence in the Bible. “They take a look at Him in His humanity, and, if they read and believe the Gospels, they will see Him in his deity as Son of God and savior of the world and hence put their faith in Him.”

As with everything else in popular culture, some have found a way to cash in on this interest—from Baby Jesus dolls to coffee-table picture books on ancient Ethiopia.

Still, it is the spiritual growth that is most important. African-American writers, artists and publishers of Black books are using the scholarly research in developing historically correct Bible study and Sunday-school materials, children’s literature and master works of art. The National Baptist Publishing Board in Nashville has created a series of African-American Bible resources, including a collection of children’s coloring books with dark-skinned characters on the cover. It also carries a primer in Black biblical hermeneutics, called Experience and Tradition, by Stephen Breck Reid.

“Our young people just know about slavery, as if that is our beginning, so they act as slaves or [with] lack of self-esteem,” says Hardina Anderson, of Gary, Indiana, and president of the newly formed Christian African-American Booksellers Association. The group makes Black Christian literature, as well as other spiritual products produced by Blacks using non-White images, more readily available. “If they can be made to understand that they were a part of the beginning of civilization and realize their real value, then they may begin to act a different way,” Anderson explains.

If all young people see are White angels and White Godly images, she says, then it says to Black people that they are not expected to be good or to be a part of the heavenly realm.

But if Blacks see Jesus as a person who looks like them, that is indeed heavenly.
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Table of Contents

Is Jesus black? 1
The death of Emmett Till: a mother's forty-year agony 7
When love was a crime 17
Through children's eyes 22
Gridiron glory 29
The fixation on black athletic superiority: an idea whose time has gone 34
Friendly fire 40
Race matters 42
My father, myself: a story of hope and reconciliation 45
Targeting black boys for failure 54
Preparing young leadership 60
A sense of self 65
Kemba's nightmare 71
The sentencing game 90
Editor's note: mandatory racism 95
Note from Kemba N. Smith 97
Kemba's nightmare: part II 99
Reaffirming self-worth for Kemba 108
Nelson Mandela keeps the pressure on 110
Tom Joyner 114
Miss Apollo 121
Friendly fire 125
Shoplifting black dollars: foreign-born merchants create opportunities - and tensions - in black communities 128
Finding my place in black America 133
Cover to cover: jumping the broom 135 136
Profit over pride 143
Historically broke colleges and universities 148
Money. Power. Respect? 157
Juvenile injustice 164
Genocide's children 171
Regina Carter 178
Dick Gregory: he's no joke 180
Friendly Fire 187
Save us from negro dinners! 189
Juneteenth day 192
Targets for scrutiny 196
The last days of Malcolm X 205
Betty Shabazz: a mother's struggle 214
Hollywood sees green in the mosiac of black life 224
Jockeying to reclaim the winner's circle 228
Elizabeth Catlett 230
Thinking while black 236
Have police declared war on blacks? 238
Prisoner of war 244
Caged cargo 251
Driving while black 262
Johnnie Cochran: race man 272
Cover to cover: a baker's dozen 281
Maxine Waters: maximum effect 282
Farrakhan, Jesse, and Jews, part I 290
Farrakhan, Jesse, and Jews, part II 302
Racism in Japan 314
The two faces of Brazil 318
A maestro 324
Friendly fire 328
Don't be thrown by casual appearance of "the toss" 330
The driving lesson 333
Amazing disgrace 338
Rape of a Spelman coed 343
Spiritual reawakenings 360
Black renaissance 365
Big fish in a little sea 371
Human guinea pigs 377
Domestic violence: the brutal truth 390
Kids and violence 400
Cover to cover: a woman's justice 406
Editor's note: letter to mama 408
Power and gender 410
A Feminist Vision 414
Quiet storm 420
Listening to deaf blacks 429
Cornel Matters 439
After the million man march 449
Race Matters 461
Friendly fire 464
Race and religion 466
Cuba and blacks 473
If Kosovo, why not Rwanda? 479
MLK's protective "guardian" 484
Who killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? 488
Braveheart: Fred Shuttlesworth 501
A warrior's child 510
Book review: prized literature for black children 516
The Jesse factor 518
Standard bearer: Ron Brown 526
Hijacking Justice 535
Editor's note: supreme injustice 548
Doubting Thomas 550
Friendly fire 556
Affirmative action foe enjoys the benefits 558
Showdown in Atlanta 562
Affirmative action abroad 571
Racism on the Internet 578
Right side of the law 586
The American way: blame a black man 593
Death in Jasper 600
Fabric of freedom 607
Righting a wrong 609
Giving "props" to a muscial force 618
Friendly fire 620
Film: Sankofa explores the present through the prism of history 622
Why blacks join cults 625
Losing Isaiah 631
Environmental racism - fighting dirty 638
In the loop 646
Future focus 653
Emerge awards 661
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2003

    Memorable Stories

    I Was Really Caught Up Reading This Book. Before This Magazine Folded, A few Years Ago I Was A subscriber For Many Years. Personally, I feel That This Magazine Was One Of A Kind. There Were Many Things That I Loved About 'Emerge'. I Recall Reading A Lot Of The Stories That Were Written During The Time The That This Magazine Was In Publication. The Story That Touched Me Most Of All, Was 'Kembas Nightmare'. About The College Student Who Got Involved With A Drug Dealer &Ends Up Doing Time In Federal Prison. but after serving some time, in prison, She Was Pardon.Thanks For The Best Of Emerge' Thanks For The Memories...A Magazine Thats Gone, But Not Forgotten..

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    Posted July 8, 2011

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