A picture is worth a thousand words.
Enough said, and that’s my thought provoking perspective…
In a past life, one of many that I have enjoyed, I taught a college course called the Psychology of the Black Family. From time to time I go back and look through some of those old term papers from that class to which I become enthralled by the content. The assignment given to each student was to write a term paper on “The Breakdown of the African American Family”. As I read through some of the thirty or so papers I found several very significant points and a common theme throughout the papers. I decided to capture some of the key points from those research papers to share with you.
I know this “Thought Provoking Perspective” may cause some controversy and maybe some hate mail. Nonetheless, my intent is to, maybe, create some dialog within our consciousness as to why the black family, our community, and black people are the least likely to work together as a solid unit to the benefit of each other as other ethnic groups do.
During slavery, and from the 1800’s through the 1980’s, the concept of family was tight knit, strongly woven, and the envy of most cultures. The African American family unit survived in spite of unimaginable cruelty and adversity. It is only recently, during the last thirty years or so that the African American family became dysfunctional and lost its direction. One has to think for some twisted reason we do not feel whole because in many cases we allow others define us.
I can recall a powerful statement made by one of the students who expressed that she thinks the different social pressures on black men and women have contributed to the weak traditional family structure. Black women have been able to achieve more economic and educational success than black men, leading to them being higher wage earners. This inequality has eroded black women’s reliance on men and their willingness to compromise on their needs or expectations, which in turn has led to resentment and disappointment on both sides.
Black women raise children, too often alone, and the bitterness that difficult task creates causes some women to make derogatory complaints against men in general, tainting their daughters and shaming their sons. Also, it seems that black women do not often hold their sons to as high a standard as their daughters, making them further vulnerable.
If proper behavior is not modeled for young people, they have difficulty fulfilling those expectations. This creates the perfect ingredients for the dismal situations to occur in our community. She went on to say that a lot of that has to do with our values, and the lack of knowing the importance of loving our communities, our families, and ourselves.
These are 12 key factors expressed from my student’s outstanding research papers:
1. The Vietnam War: Hundreds of thousands of strong, intelligent, hardworking black men were shipped abroad to be murdered, returned home shell shocked, severely damaged, or addicted. Many of which were unable to get back on track after returning from war because the government abandoned them.
2. COINTELPRO: The covert actions of J. Edgar Hoover in the wake of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Power Movements all but insured that anyone speaking out against the governments wrong doings would receive either long prison sentences or bullets. This fear silenced our forward progression, fueling distrust, and removing many of our leaders as well as potential future leaders.
3. The Assassinations of the 1960’s: Left a huge void in leadership that has yet to be filled, particularly within the Civil Rights Movement to include within the community. Instead, a universal acceptance of the pimp/hustler image in popular culture that presented alternative heroes to black youth, which resonant in the form of Gangster Rap. This genre leads to the glorification of the criminal element amidst immature minds that lack familial structure. In addition to black on black crime and staying silent while black youth are murdered by other black youth.
4. The Feminist Movement: Backed by liberal white women to fight for the equal rights of women; the same rights most black men had yet to fully be granted. A lot of black women got lost in the rhetoric of how men were keeping them down, losing sight of the fact that black men were down there with them. To this day, the power exchange and infighting among black men and women, is sadly considered the norm, a tool enumerated by Willie Lynch.
5. Oliver North & the Contras: The volume of drugs, mainly crack cocaine that flooded the black community during the 80 to which most of the drugs came in on U.S. ships with the support of the Government. The CRACK era escalated death and incarceration rates, unwanted pregnancies, neighborhood prostitution and a culture of violence. Folks were selling their kids to hit the pipe, and selling their souls to sell what went in that pipe. This epidemic destroyed our community in ways slavery could never have done. This form of contemporary was the cruelest type of slavery imposed upon our communities.
6. Mass media brainwashing & mind control: The influences of propaganda and distorted images of beauty and male/female roles. Shows like Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, Dynasty, Different Strokes, and the Jefferson’s for example. The American conscious during the 80’s was money driven. Materialism became the idea that stuff defines you and others.
7. Education: The lack of proper education, financing support, and knowledge being taught by African American professionals. In addition our leaders and academics failed us as they fled the hood in droves for the suburbs during those crazy 80’s. Prior to this period, kids saw on a daily basis married couples that looked like them, even if they didn’t live in their households. Yet the great migration to greener pastures left a void in the community leaving it to be filled by the image of the hustler-pimp-thug, ruthlessness, and violence.
8. Communication: This speaks to education of self and listening to the wrong messengers. The communication of values – parents became unavailable to hand down family legacies, traditions and value systems. We’re like POW’s locked in the same building for 20 years, unable to converse thru cement walls confined by our personas, egos, insecurities, isms etc.
9. The Black Church: Many churches have lost their way. The business of religion is bankrupting our communities. Many churches are not touching the lives of those outside of the church most in need. Just like back in the day when it was the design of slave masters, who did so much wickedness to use this as a tactic by offering a bible and in most instances nothing more than pain and a promise of a better life to keep us in line. This is not the same as faith which was necessary to survive our struggles.
10. Urbanization – work and home were once connected. Parents were near their families and children understood work as a way of life. Urbanization helped create “latch key” kids and images of hard work disappeared while replacing it with material objects.
11. Social Services: The advent of the system of welfare that demanded the absence of the influence of the black man in the home. Before Claudine during the early 50’s welfare was a Midwestern farmer hook up and back then you HAD to be a complete family to apply. So the laws for welfare changed in the inner-city while many in the farm lands of Mid America started to change in culture to fit the application for welfare. For decades to follow, trillions of dollars in government spending on ineffective social programs in our cities have not by enlarge benefited the mobility of the family.
12. Segregation: Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes that prevented legal marriages, dehumanized people, and discriminatory practices in work/education left many African Americans unable to access resources necessary to build strong family bases causing disillusioned men/husbands/fathers to abandonment rather than face daily reminder of their “failure”.
The next time you look in the mirror or just look at the picture I have inserted which might give you something to think about. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!
TO BE CONTINUED…
You are welcome to add your comments, views, and perspectives.
I listen to a nationally syndicated radio host sometime in the afternoon. This guy has a show from time to time called “Pimps in the Pulpit”. It sounds bad, I know, but is there a hint of truth to that description. Trust me, I know that talking about religion or the church is never a good idea. Having said that, I’m sure I will be berated for this writing but I hope most will understand that my point is this: when will the black church community take an honest look at itself?
Don’t get me wrong. I love the “lawd” as much as the next person who claims that they do. I also love and can appreciate “The Word” and I respect pastors, and there are many good ones out there. I think we should do more to support and honor the good ones. I have several in my family. I also know that there are some who have raised hell all of their lives, gone to prison and worse, who now claim to have been called. So I know, in many cases, all are not what they seem or claim to be. Lest, be careful and not confuse the man or church with Christianity or Spirituality.
Let’s be real, you know the scenario – I’ll call it the drama. A pastor gets caught in some scandalous behavior like stealing money, committing adultery, having a child by a member or worse. The word spreads, a few fed-up members leave the church. The “incident” is down-played or swept under the rug and eventually the congregation moves on as if nothing ever happened. Black churches are notorious for their unwillingness to shake bad leaders. Even in the face of undeniable evidence of gross sin, some congregations maintain their commitments to shady characters with an almost addictive-like quality.
When this happens it tends to inflect damage far greater than their collective work. Frankly, it spells disaster for its mission, its people, and its community. The little country church I attended as a child had a preacher that I always admired because he told the truth. He once said, “The bible has been rewritten 28 times. If the first version was God’s word; Why then would man need to rewrite the order God left for us?” When I got older and saw him outside of the church in his Caddie, he told me that, “There is a lot of money in Jesus name”.
I thought then, and do sometimes now, that it is like the wolf guarding the sheep. There was a time when the church was there for the community and now it seems the people are there for the church. Think about that for a moment. During the Civil Rights era, black preachers changed the world; put their lives on the line, and many died for their community and the people of it. Do you know one preacher who would do that today? Probably not!
I went to church a few weeks ago – a mega church. The first thing I saw was an ATM machine and the pastor that day was ten years old. What came to mind was the day Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple and with respect to the ten year old preacher – Negro Please! My point is this; let thee be guarded with respect to the messenger. Some churchgoers believe pastors (even bad ones) are virtually untouchable or they are all knowing like God speaks through them. They are human and most have an agenda. Let me add that in most cases it’s not you.
Because of their position and function within the church, they are seen as being above any charge of indiscretion. People who hold this view will protect a corrupt pastor by immediately denying and dismissing any allegation of misconduct before careful consideration. Sometimes the congregation will blame the victims for their own victimization. For instance, many women find themselves blamed for having been sexually harassed by a corrupt pastor. Should they find the courage to speak out, they are often branded as “trouble makers” and/or demonized as a part of the devil’s scheme to bring down the ministry.
What a shame that many in the congregation feel that as long as he/she shows up on Sunday, in his Caddie, and performs all the public duties of a pastor, their private life should be virtually off limits in spite of it sometimes being masked with sinister intentions. Some people tolerate pastoral misconduct because it gives them political leverage over a compromised pastor or secures their position within the church. They keep pastoral indiscretions a secret in exchange for certain favors from their leader or out of fear that if he should lose his power, so would they.
For the record, the Bible does offer human protections for congregations in the form of multiple pastors. It also promotes real pastoral accountability from a group of people who know the day-to-day ins and outs of that particular congregation and who are qualified to recognize and call out pastoral misconduct. I know this is a HUGE paradigm shift but before you prejudge it, check out these biblical references to see if they support a single or a multiple pastor model for local churches. (see Acts 11:30, 14:23, 20:17, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, 1 Timothy 5:17, James 5:14)
The Bible never says that Christians should remain loyal to corrupt leaders. In fact, the Bible clearly forbids churches from clinging to such pastors. 1 Timothy 5:20 says “As for those [pastors] who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” There are precious few congregations willing to obey this biblical command. Can you imagine a local Black church publicly reprimanding a corrupt pastor by bringing him before the congregation, calling out his sin, and “sitting him down?” I doubt it!
However in many cases, this is exactly what God’s word calls us to do. For you haters who will offer negative comments concerning this article. I simply ask that you judge not. This can be done by looking in the mirror. Further, you need look no further than your local or national news to see that there are wolves preying upon their flocks. 1 Timothy 5:21 insists that even pastors should receive no special favors or leniency when it comes to sin. It says “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.”
Pastors aren’t above God’s law– Churches dishonor the Lord himself by acting as if they are. In cases like Eddie Wrong and others, and you know some, I say, we need to take pastoral integrity very seriously and avoid the physical, psychological, and spiritual devastation to our communities and ourselves, simply by demanding that pastors obey the Bible’s clear direction in this area. If you noticed I stopped short of agreeing with the radio host but “game knows games” and most are playing a game with your soul. I know this is lengthy but that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.