Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Racial problem or a relational problem

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One of the main reasons given for the historic political shift in American is racism. The media has constantly portrayed the Trump camp as a bunch of racist bigots. Just as CNN’s Van Jones stated on election night: “We’ve talked about everything but race tonight,” he said. “This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.” Today one of the common reasons given for many of the problems in black communities is racism. Recently we have seen many professional athletes refusing to stand during the singing of the national anthem in an attempt to bring attention to the problem of social inequality in our country. So here is my question, “Are people more racist in America today than they were in the 60’s?” While I believe that racism is still a problem in America I personally don’t believe that we are more racist today than we were then. That was a disgustingly dark time in our countries history when communities, collages, even busses and drinking fountains were divided. So here is my second question, if we are not as racist as we were then why are things worse in black communities today than they were then? According to a report released by the Urban Institute, the state of the African-American family is worse today than it was in the 1960’s. Unemployment for African-American men remains more than twice as high as among white men. For white men in 1954, unemployment was zero. For African-American men in 1954, it was about 4 percent. By 2010 it was 16.7 percent for African-American men and 7.7 percent for white men. In 1954, 79 percent of African-American men were employed, but by 2011 that had decreased to 57 percent. If racism was worse then than it is now and yet social issues are worse today then one would have to assume that racism is not the main disease destroying them. I’m not denying that racism isn’t alive or that it isn’t a problem I’m saying that based on the facts it doesn’t appear to be what’s driving the poverty and prison rates. So what is? Could it be a parental problem? Since the 1960’s there has been a steady decline in the family. Of the 27 industrialized countries studied in 2009 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. had 25.8 percent of children being raised by a single parent, compared with an average of 14.9 percent across the other countries. In the African American community, 72 percent of Black children are raised in a single parent household. So let’s talk about single family homes and poverty. Today two-parent black families are rarely poor, statistics show that among black families where both the husband and wife work full-time, the current poverty rate is just 2 percent. Much of the poverty is found in single parent families. Children in single-parent households are not only raised with economic hardship but they also face social and psychological disadvantages. Statistics show that they are four times as likely as children from two parent families to be abused or neglected. They are much likelier to have trouble academically, being twice as likely to drop out of school. They are three times more likely to have behavioral problems, more apt to experience emotional disorders. They are two-and-a-half times likelier to be sexually active as teens and almost twice as likely to conceive children out-of-wedlock when they are teens or young adults. They are also three times more likely to be on welfare when they reach adulthood. Facts also teach us that growing up without a father is a far better forecaster of a boy’s future criminality than either race or poverty. Regardless of race, 70 percent of all young people in state reform institutions were raised in fatherless homes, as were 60 percent of rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates. As Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector has noted, “Illegitimacy is a major factor in America’s crime problem. Lack of married parents, rather than race or poverty, is the principal factor in the crime rate.” Because the black illegitimacy rate is so high, these pathologies plague blacks more than they affect any other demographic. Black economist and professor Walter E. Williams states “Even if white people were to become morally rejuvenated tomorrow,”, “it would do nothing for the problems plaguing a large segment of the black community. Illegitimacy, family breakdown, crime, and fraudulent education are devastating problems, but they are not civil rights problems.” Yet this runs contrary to the picture that the media has been painting as they keep spoon feeding society the lie that poverty problems are just a by-products of racism. That view, through decades of constant repetition, has won the minds of many Americans. “Instead of admitting that racism has declined,” observes Shelby Steele, “we [blacks] argue all the harder that it is still alive and more insidious than ever. We hold race up to shield us from what we do not want to see in ourselves.” The astronomical illegitimacy rate in black communities is a relatively recent phenomenon. Statistics show us that as late as 1950 black women nationwide were more likely to be married than white women, and only 9 percent of black families with children were headed by a single parent. In the 1950s, black children had a 52 percent chance of living with both their biological parents until age seventeen, but by the 1980s those odds had dwindled to a mere 6 percent. In 1959, only 2 percent of black children were reared in households in which the mother never married while today that figure is fast approaching 60 percent. In their landmark book America in Black and White, Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom make this profoundly important observation: “In the past three decades the proportion of intact married-couple families has declined precipitously even though the fraction of black women aged fifteen to forty-four who were divorced, separated, or widowed also went down.… It is thus not divorce but the failure to marry that has led to such a momentous change in black family patterns. The marriage rate for African Americans has plummeted in the past third of a century. In 1960 … black women were only a shade less likely to marry than white women…. Today a clear majority of African American women aged fifteen to forty-five have never been married, as compared with just a third of their white counterparts…. Many fewer black women are marrying, and yet they continue to have children—which was not the case in an earlier era.” Am I suggesting that racism is not a problem or that I am somehow ignorant or naïve, no in fact I can attest first hand that racism is alive all over the world. When a group of 30 men from our church went to New Orleans to rebuild after hurricane Katrina in 2005, many of the black families I helped had anger and even hatred for Hispanic people. Rap music regularly repeats racist remarks. I was born and raised in Africa and I repeatedly heard and watched different tribes not only disrespect but full out hate each other, black on black. Later living in the Middle East I watched Arabs treat Indian families as second class citizens, at the time there were more Indian workers than Arabs living in the country.  While completing my education in England I watched racism alive and well between white people just because they were from different European countries. Racism is not an American problem it’s a human problem. Look hate is a heart issue something the great Martin Luther King understood.  You see we have a sin issue not a skin issue and that is why Jesus died for the world not just for whites. What if Jesus had died only for Jews? Speaking of Jews have you ever wondered why there are so few I mean after thousands of years there are only 1.5 million Jews. It’s because people like Hitler hated and killed them by the millions and today they are still hated and bombed on a daily basis. While racism is a problem that needs to be faced head on it does not appear to be the driving force behind the poverty problem, parenting does. I would suggest that our greatest problem is not a racial one but a relational one. What’s driving the bus is not bigotry and fear but fatherlessness.  What if we are fighting the wrong fight, what if the fight isn’t black and white but family failure? Look a wall is only as strong as its individual bricks and if many of the bricks are missing what is going to hold the wall up? I wonder if the reason why progressive America has had so little impact on the problem is because their thesis is flawed. What if the answer is parent’s not more political policies, what if the answer to this failure is family, specifically fathers? What if what we need is not more legislation and laws but strong families?




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