Some could argue that one of the reasons that Reformed movements have not flourished in black communities (in addition to many lacking an emphasis on exodus-oriented covenant theology) is that too many black and Latino/a bruthas and sistas new to the theology confuse Reformed theology with white anglo-normativity and loose their affections for black people and lose their ability to apply their new found doctrine to the black experience in America of sin and social marginalization.
Michael Kimmel, in his book, The History of Men, is particularly helpful here in thinking about the ways in masculinity is defined in America:
Men's power over other men concerns the distribution of the those rewards among men by differentiated access to class, race, ethnic privileges. . .that's is, the power of upper- and middle-class men over working-class men; the power of white and native born men over nonwhite and/or non-native born men. . .The constituent elements of "hegemonic" masculinity, the stuff of the construction, are racism, sexism, homophobia, and social science has ever been complicit. . .
A version of white, middle-class, heterosexual masculinity emerged as normative, the standard against which both men and women were measured, and through which success and failure were evaluated. This normative version--enforced, coercive, laden with power--academic social science declared to be the "normal" version.
Making the normative into the normal has been the discursive mechanism by which hegemonic masculinity was constituted---Michael Kimmel
Over the years, I've seen many, many blacks (and now Latinos) confuse being Reformed theologically with adopting anglo-normativity and essentially become white men with black or Latino faces. Another way to describe this would be "bleaching" one's ethnic identity in ways that one confuse theology with adopting white, middle-class, masculinity as normative. This can lead to black and Latino bruhs who are willing to put on white face to be validated and accepted as "authentically" Reformed. This can lead to several things:
(1) You can lose your ability to speak into the experience of personal sin and to the social marginalization concomitant with what it means to be black and Latino in a world saturated with white privilege.
(2) You can lose your affection for one's respective ethnic community. For African American men, this can lead to an inadvertent rejection of amoral black cultural forms (and can, in some cases, even lead some to view black women as undesirable and/or sexually deviant irresponsible "welfare moms.")
(3) The content of ones teaching and preaching looses its prophetic voice to speak regularly about life within a context of white racism and other forms of structural injustice. You loose your theology of suffering because middle-class white men in America have no theology of social suffering to teach you how to communicate and exegete for minorities.
This bleaching of one's ethnic identity is celebrated by some middle-class anglo-normativities which seek, in no way, to affirm blackness and often seeks to subordinate and subsume ethnic cultures into whiteness. There is nothing more strange than a black Christian man incapable of affirm the imago dei of blackness. Being black and Reformed should be able to celebrate all the things that come with dark skin.
The discussion of white normativity, encompassing both white dominance and privilege in the field of theology requires a critical analysis of the inextricable relationship between the sociological construction of race, the role of cultural capital, and the development and schematization of white hegemonic structures and how the gospel calls blacks and Latinos to speak truth into white, Western cultural captivity, some people would suggest. This is a profound temptation in Reformed circles because many black and Latinos want the validation of middle-class anglo-normativity as confirmed masculinity Godly identity.
Black bruhs in white face hardly say anything positive about black people or the black church; and rarely say anything positive about the black community (and especially black women). This inability to praise the historical legacy of black women who have suffered oppression along the lines of gender and race is something you will not see in most middle-class anglo-normative cultures and the bruhs in whiteface adopt the same dismissive orientation.
Just as I earlier urged black reformed bruhs to stop bad-mouthing the black church I urge black and Latino men and women entering into Reformed theological communities to not bleach themselves by confusing being reformed with middle-class anglo-normativity.
For my black and Latino bruhs, neither the standard for your masculinity nor your biblical orthodoxy is ever to be measured by white, middle-class masculine normativity. Be not confused. Put the bleach down. Your success or failure has nothing to do with whether or not you preach or teach like any of the white men from whom you learned Reformed theology from but your conformity to Jesus in your blackness or brownness. Jesus loves black and brown people. Do you?
This is the kind of stuff that makes me black and tired.