Reflections on Race: African American Challenges — Voices from the local Black community contemplate the primary challenges facing African Americans and how best to address them.
I have been asking America that question all my life. There’s no doubt in my mind that the United States of America has the opportunity to become an oasis in the desert of humanity’s dark history. While it is definitely true that America has never truly been united, the opportunity to become united has reared its wonderful head many times in history, and we as a country have turned our back on it.
One can go back in history and talk about the many sins of our country, and I can go back just a few weeks and expound on the continued amusement and mockery of justice. But instead of seizing on the opportunity to get it right, we see our leaders playing politics — and the Church remaining silent. I was asked what is wrong with our country. Well, that is a loaded question, but I have something to say.
I am thoroughly convinced that there are men and women with a tremendous amount of power and wealth who benefit from the divisions that exist in our country. There are divisions between the shades of color that exist within our races and between the rich and the poor. In other words, by keeping Blacks and whites separated, the country will never truly achieve unity. Telling lower-class white brothers the reason they are lower class is because of people of color who are trying to take something away from them will also keep us divided. Some teach that the white man is made in God’s image and everyone else is subservient to them. It is taught in the halls of justice, the classrooms, Sunday school rooms and social clubs.
Then, there is division that was created among the shades of color during slavery by the southern Church and plantation owners to determine who is the lightest — because the lighter you are, the closer you are to God. Who wins in this fight? Isn’t it true that we’re all made in God’s image? There is but one image, and if one image is less than another, wouldn’t that mean that God who is supposed to be all perfect, all powerful and omnipresent has a deficit or some sort of weakness? Of course not. That will be further from the truth. So where do we go from here?
It seems to me that the first obstacle to our continued existence is fear. This fear is not of a person or group of people but fear of the Truth. The fear mongering is heralded on every political shelf in our country. We as a country have used Hollywood, books, TV and other outlets such as our education system to whitewash the past. Truth never changes; perception does. Hollywood has shown slavery in the best of terms. It has shown happy slaves eager to please their master, and the Bible was used to back this up.
The first thing America must do is admit the truth of her past by becoming aware of the sins of our country. The sins that were bestowed upon the people of color, the Native Americans, the Hispanic Americans and the Japanese Americans during World War II.
America must then repent from her sins. That means in the process of becoming aware of our history, public and private education should be written with the truth. There should not have to be a Black History Month, nor a month for any other ethnic group, but truth is the only thing that will set us free. The majority must understand that the minority is not a threat; they just want to live like everybody else. They want cities and counties to invest in communities of color so that crime will lower, and they can have access to better schools, better homes and capital as well as an equal share of America. Black descendants were the first to die in the Revolutionary War, and minorities have fought in every war and contributed to every area of the advancement of our country, but because the majority are not taught this, and it is by design, they think the opposite.
Secondly, there must be a repentance. We need to take down the shield that justifies police brutality by claiming we don’t support the police. That is far from the truth. There are tens of thousands of minorities who are in the police force. We must tear down the justice system that so often puts its knees on the neck of African Americans while turning a blind eye to the majority doing the same if not worse crimes.
About Reflections on Race
Black history is unfortunately not always recognized as American history — even today as it was in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, hailed as the Father of Black History, and others brought his “brainchild” to life.
If you ever wondered how Black History Month originated, you need go no further than the founding group’s website asalh.org. It stands for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In its own history, focusing on Dr. Carter, the association notes: “During the dawning decades of the twentieth century, it was commonly presumed that black people had little history besides the subjugation of slavery. Today, it is clear that blacks have significantly impacted the development of the social, political, and economic structures of the United States and the world.”
The association chose as this year’s Black History Month theme: The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
Our guest columns for Reflections of Race will help to secure the foundation of the Black family by identifying challenges and issues facing the African American race. We asked our guest columnists to comment from a local or national viewpoint, and offer solutions along the way. And they did just that.
— Ruth Foote, collection editor
Thirdly, America must make reparations for its sins. We gave thousands of dollars to Japanese Americans who were interned during the war, but nothing to African Americans who were enslaved for hundreds of years. Others stole land, raped the women, hung the men. The list is endless. Even though we know what happened, there are no reparations. Reparations do not have to come in the form of money, but they need to come in an appropriate form.
Lastly, the biggest threat to our country and to those of us who truly love the Lord are moderate Christians who refuse to speak up when wrong is done. It is moderate majority Christians who turn a blind eye to sin and lies, who support police brutality and white superiority, and who believe that other races are less in the eyes of God as theirs. How do we know? Because their inaction and silence when wrong is done to their brothers speak much louder than words. Some pastors are afraid that if they speak up for Christ, their followers will leave. I say to them trust God, not man. When the storms came and Jesus was sleeping in the boat, he asked them upon waking due to their fear, “Where is your faith?”
Many would respond to this article as they did when Martin Luther King wrote his letter from a Birmingham jail. The moderate pastors asked, “When will you be satisfied? Why are you in a hurry? Why won’t you wait?” Those questions, my brothers and sisters, African Americans have been hearing for hundreds of years.
Now is the time for God’s people to stand up for Him despite what the constitution says, despite what politicians say, despite what the pastor says. It’s time to stand up for what Christ says. He says to love your neighbor as yourself. He says there is no greater, and that one would give his life up for his friends.
Dr. King put it another way: “I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I love my brothers of all shades but especially those who love the Lord! As a pastor and a Christian, I have no choice.
If we are to be a Christian nation, it is incumbent on us to respect authorities and one another. I leave you with words from Frederick Douglass:
“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial, and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.”
This can be summed up this way: Jesus said that you will know my disciples by the Love they have among themselves. Do you love me?