A Gift Grows in the Ghetto: Reimagining the Spiritual
Diagnosis of Black Men
Published online: 6 February 2018
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract This essay explores the spiritual diagnosis of Black men in the American
ghetto. The ghetto is viewed as a place of desolation, a place where nothing of value
thrives—quite simply, a place where it is hard to grow. But is it also something more?
By using the biblical story of Hagar and her son Ishmael being abandoned in the
wilderness, the author argues that it is within deleterious environs, whether the
wilderness or the ghetto, that one’s gift is discovered and then, through divine
assistance, allowed to develop. This offers a useful tool in terms of spiritual diagnosis,
especially for Black men, because one of the main criteria to be assessed becomes the
person’s awareness of his gift and how the gift is being developed. In the end, Black
men are encouraged to become more aware of their specific gift and the ways in which
this gift, when properly cared for, develops—i.e., grows up—in such a way that it
protects them, above all, in an uncaring environment.
BEEP-BEEP: Do you have a diagnosis?
A few years ago I participated in a conference call facilitated by the White House’s
Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Led by Melissa Rogers, director
of the agency, this conversation included various persons (e.g., public policy officials,
NGO leaders, etc.) from around the country. The participants were chosen, I suppose,
because they had some knowledge of the issues that were to be addressed by then
President Obama’s BMy Brother’s Keeper^ initiative.
Pastoral Psychol (2018) 67:141–154
* Jay-Paul Hinds
School of Divinity, Howard University, Washington, DC 20017, USA