I am calling for a serious conversation among African American pastors and other leaders about the hazards of our culture. I believe there is a need for a summit to address the devastating impact it’s having on our people. Ideally, these summits must start locally in 2016 or 2017 and by 2018 it must take on a national hue.
Black America can no longer afford to ignore the adverse plight of our people. While making this clarion call, let me say first, and foremost, this statement is not a refutation of every aspect of black culture. However, we must directly challenge the undercurrents of our community life that is destroying our people.
The Core Issue
Nor can it be said that the solutions are purely a political and sociological fix. Our problems are theological, and ultimately, the solutions must be as well. I am not saying that political, social, and economic factors are not relevant. I am saying they are not sufficient to correct our predicament. To say that black Americans, specifically, or America in general, can experience true redemption without Christ is an illusion at best. The restoration He alone can bring will change our lives in every way—socially, politically, economically, and morally.
So, if we want lasting solutions with temporal and eternal benefits, we had better look upward before we look inward.
Where Do We Start?
Where do we start the renovation? Often black and other civic leaders address this question from one of two basic perspectives.
One approach is structural. This argument, when not properly balanced, says our difficulties are institutional. That our problems are because of racism, discrimination, and inequality within social structures that whites have erected.
The second approach will claim that it’s cultural. There are endless seas of black pathologies that bring our people to ruin. Seldom if ever are social structures called into question when asserting this position. While I still believe there are structural issues that warrant our attention, I realize they cannot alone account for the carcinogenic nature of our actions. For this reason, I will direct my focus on black culture and the behaviors we choose to ignore and in some corners celebrate, according to Jason L. Riley.
What Is Wrong?
What is wrong with black culture? Sadly, in many ways, black culture is self-destructive. First, black culture is caustic because it is suicidal. Much has been written on this topic that has been ignored or memorialize as a national virtue by politicians and the media. Alveda King and the producers of Maafa21 have attempted to bring attention to the menace of abortion in our communities. The Center for Disease Control reports that as of 2010, black Americans made up 12.6 percent of the U.S. population but constituted 30 percent of all abortions. This is the very definition of nihilism whereby we massacre ourselves.
Secondly, black culture is violent. Riley provides irrefutable data supporting this point in his book, Please Stop Helping Us. He informs us that much of the rise in violence in our communities is post-civil rights. This means we cannot attribute our downward spiral to laws that restrict our access to wealth, education, and other social benefits. Riley tells us, by 1980 African Americans made up 50 percent of the arrest for rape and murder according to the FBI. From 1976 to 2005, the black community accounts for over 50 percent of all the murders in the United States, Riley recounts. All of this must be seen in light of the fact that we are only 13 percent of the population.
Thirdly, black culture is anti-educational. To this day, many young blacks narrate being accused of “acting white” because of their intellectual achievements. Labels such as Uncle Tom, sellout, or race traitors are liberally handed out to black kids from their peers for their proper English and high academic achievements. Few accusations could not be more insulting than asserting that intelligence is unnatural for African Americans. Even so, such indictments are sufficient to cause black youth to allow cultural identity and the need to belong to trump academic success. These allegations, in conjunction with other cultural dynamics, says Walter Williams, has caused us to graduate African American from high school with reading, writing, and math skills at levels comparable to white sixth-graders.
Finally, black culture is destroying the African American family. As early as 1965, Daniel P. Moynihan was warning the public about the decline of the black family. Today, African American families are showcasing his forebodings. Study after study decries the 70 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate in our communities. This is in spite of the fact that if one goes back to the 1920s, over 75 percent of black families were two-parent households. After reading an article written by Walter Williams in August of 2014 entitled, Blacks Must Confront Reality, I have concluded that white slave masters did a better job of keeping black families together than free black men and women in the late 1980s. To say this is reprehensible is the understatement of the century.
The current state of our culture is a theological and social nightmare. It will not get better. Nothing short of Divine intervention will turn our predicament around. We have passed laws, elected African Americans to numerous political offices, and liberalized our theology all in attempts to move our people towards social equality. None of these efforts have propelled us in the right direction.
The one thing we have not tried is being faithful to the God who liberated us from slavery. We have ignored the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Pascal once stated, the remedy for our malady will never be found within us. Nevertheless, this is who we have consistently looked to, Washington D.C. and countless legislative acts of secular men to take us to the Promise Land. However, the only land we have arrived at has left us destitute of mind, body, and soul. If we are truly interested in saving black culture and black America, we must turn again to the Author and finisher of our fate, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other help and our present quandary evidences it. Hence there is a need for every Bible believing preacher to petition God, take us to the cross, and nationally repent.
A summit of repentance is our only remedy.