Cut Dead But Still Alive

Caring for African American Young Men

By Gregory C. Ellison II Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781426703041 $23.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781426771057 $23.99 Buy
There is hope beyond the “strange and bitter cup” of African American manhood.To cut dead means to refuse to acknowledge another with the intent to punish. Gregory Ellison says that this is the plight of African American young men. They are stigmatized with limited opportunity for education and disproportionate incarceration. At the same time, they are often resistant to help from social institutions including the church. They are mute and invisible to society but also in their inward being. Their voice and physical selves are not acknowledged, leaving them ripe for hopelessness and volatility. If the need is so great yet the desire for help wanes, where is the remedy?

Healing can begin by reframing the problem. While cutting someone dead is destructive, it can also serve to prune and repot a disfigured being—giving new possibilities for life. In this provocative book, Ellison shows how caregivers can sow seeds of life, and nurture with guidance, admonition, training, and support in order to help create a community of reliable others serve as extended family.


Through an exhilarating panoply of poetry, psychology, social analysis, and biblical interpretation, all wrapped in unflinching candor, Cut Dead But Still Alive leads us into the harrowing plight of African American young men. While sobering odds against not just their success but their survival remain ever on the surface, Gregory Ellison trains our sights elsewhere, on tiny fissures in the bedrock of their despair. There, he finds small rays of hope that, when exploited by caregivers and communities, can lead to tectonic shifts for positive change. Ellison’s is the freshest new voice on the pastoral care street.
--Robert C. Dykstra, Charlotte W. Newcombe Professor of Pastoral Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

Anyone who wants to know how to offer care in today’s complicated cultural and racial climate should read this book. Smart, creative, pragmatic, passionate, pastoral, and profoundly honest—Gregory Ellison gives voice and visibility to the mute, the invisible, and the unacknowledged, and in doing so, reaches out to all of us. Through novels, poetry, empirical data, and wide-ranging scholarship, he cracks open the heart of human pain and shows how we can move forward to healing.
--Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, The Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

At long last a book that addresses a forgotten demographic allowing their voice to be heard, their existence acknowledged by caregivers, and offering hope-filled strategies in the face of nihilism, muteness, and invisibility. Ellison's text employs poetry, prose, cultural criticism, historical analysis, narrative, and personal experience to offer ways to clearly see, hear and care for invisible and muted young African American men. In a courageous, honest and forthright engagement with the horror and tragedy of young people crying out to be seen, heard and taken seriously, Cut Dead but still alive models the path of genuinely liberative pastoral care that does not duck painful realities but rather finds through them ways for hope to break into and transform lives.
--Emmanuel Y. Lartey, Professor of Pastoral Theology, Care, and Counseling, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta

About the Author

Gregory C. Ellison II

Gregory Ellison II is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.