Blacks Must Become Multilingual

This isn’t a call for blacks to learn an additional language to communicate alongside the English we speak now.  Even though Hispanics are an increasing percentage of the population- displacing blacks as the largest minority in the process- I’m not advocating the need to learn Spanish; though that may indeed prove helpful.

What I’m advocating here is something quite different and I believe more practical and much more pressing.  Blacks are monolingual- we only speak one language and oftentimes it’s at our own expense.

The language isn’t English… it’s race.  On occasion, we speak it very well and considering the historical presence of blacks in America, it’s understandable.  From slavery to the Emancipation, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow segregation; from the Civil Rights Movement to the present day- our historical reality in America forced blacks to develop a polished articulation of racial language.

But in twenty-first century America, the language of race is no longer as welcomed or as understandable to hearers as it once was.  The old black/white paradigm of racial semantics is no longer the reality as it used to be.  The presences of Asians, Hispanics- and yes Africans, including other races and ethnicities have drastically changed the vocabulary of racial language.  More and more, mainstream America is closing its ears when blacks speak the language of race- particularly when it’s spoken in the narrative of accusatory victimization.

If blacks continue the delay in conceding this new reality, and stubbornly refuse to adapt and learn other languages, they will become culturally and politically irrelevant.

Some argue that this irrelevancy has already set upon us.

Politically, black irrelevance is already a distressing, self-imposed reality.  It’s the reason that one political party- very intentionally- takes black for granted, while the other political party ignores them altogether.  It’s why both political parties are creating deliberate yet incoherent and destructive strategies of Hispanic outreach and capitulation, even though blacks represented a greater percentage of the electorate in 2008 (12.3%) and 2012 (13.4%) than did Hispanics (7.4% & 8.4%, respectively).

Both parties are fully aware that blacks are self-limiting, one-dimensional racial linguists and that language only goes so far.  It recycles itself but doesn’t create anything of value.

If blacks want to avoid becoming a cultural and political afterthought, and I believe we do, then it is an existential imperative that we become multilingual.

Blacks must learn to speak the language of education- specifically education reform. It’s not simply enough for blacks to mouth empty platitudes about supporting quality education for black children.  It’s even harder when blacks support a political party that steadfastly refuses to deliver meaningful quality education to black children.  The education establishment has intently provided substandard education to black children for generations and will continue to do so until blacks speak the language of education reform so loudly and defiantly that it would be impossible to ignore.  At one point in American history it was illegal to educate blacks and as such, many blacks risked their lives to be educated.  Now that it’s legal, risk isn’t involved but sacrifice is.

Blacks must learn to speak the language of economics.  The past five years, black unemployment has been at or above 15%, twenty-nine times, and at or above 16%, eleven times. Black teen unemployment has been much worse, falling below 35% only three times and reaching 40% or higher, thirty times.  These are catastrophic statistics, and no amount of government handouts is going to rectify this bleak reality in any qualitative way.  In combination with the language of educational reform, blacks need to instruct and expose themselves to the virtue, dignity and incentives of work and entrepreneurship.  From this comes self-sufficiency, respect and greater wealth accumulation.

Blacks must also relearn the language of love- of self and of others.  Blacks accounted for thirty-six percent of all abortions between 2007-2010.  In 2012, 80% of black pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion.  In Mississippi between 1995 and 2010, 72% of black pregnancies ended in abortion.  The sad reality is that abortions are responsible for roughly 1400 deaths of preborn black babies each year.  Those children lucky enough to escape the womb unharmed have a very high likelihood of being killed by another black who was also lucky enough to have been born. Or they have the disproportionate probability of engaging in delinquency and experiencing the correctional system.  This dysfunction is all too pervasive.  Blacks must learn the language of love that: resuscitates the stigma and shame of having illegitimate children and thus, encourages the virtue of marriage prior to having children; that motivates a man to demonstrate a responsible masculinity for his son and an archetype of a future husband for his daughter.  To waste what our antecedents fought and died for is inexcusable.

Blacks must relearn the language of morality and faith. The self-destructive, immoral behavior categorized by a lack of self-discipline exhibited by blacks is enough to make our ancestors weep.  It also gives reason to question if our predecessors struggled and died in vain.  We’ve discarded this language and the effects are undeniable, noticeable to all.  Though blacks continue– in theory- to be the most religious demographic in the country, many blacks do their best to conduct themselves as if they are allergic to dignity, incapable of impulse control, and immune to morality.  We act as if public and personal rules of civility, etiquette, and the rule of law are applicable to everyone except us.  We engage in this imprudence proudly, centered in the many pathologies plaguing black America, characterized by the excessive participation in violence and criminality, the disrespect shown to authority, the disregard we have for ourselves and our families; the production, consumption and romanticizing of sexually explicit and vile images, the indifference shown to the values that guarantee success and the crutch-like dependence on guilt-ridden, racial shakedowns leveraged against white guilt to assert a perverted notion of power – done without sense of shame or a hint of guilt.  It’s not only a slap in the face to those who came before us; it’s offensive and threatening to those who are affected by it.

Blacks used to speak the language of faith and morality well, but you wouldn’t know that today.  We descend from a cultural heritage that was once saturated with a spirit-filled religiosity, grounded in biblical Christianity.  This faith nourished the strength and resiliency that buttressed the spirit against the evils, pain and anguish associated with slavery, segregation and the successful fight for civil rights.  This same faith was the foundation upon which our forefathers molded the integrity of their character and the dignity of their humanity, despite the doubts and difficulties they faced.  If they could do it, considering what the many obstacles they faced, I know for certain we can do it.

These are but a few of the languages that blacks must learn to ensure cultural respectability, moral legitimacy and political relevance.  Again, developing the talent of multilingualism isn’t a suggestion; it’s a prerequisite for self-preservation.  The once obligatory language of race, spoken with a specific articulation, sincerity and urgency in American history, has virtually become obsolete. Our failure to adapt to the changing linguistic landscape will result in blacks being completely left behind in a reality only they recognize.

And it will be our fault.

For The Congressional Black Caucus, Race Trumps Economic Prosperity

This week, The Hill reported that for many black Americans, racial identification and empathy with the first black president trumps economic concerns.  This unfortunate bit of news- though a shock to absolutely no one- remains troubling, nonetheless.

This “empathetic” response was triggered by president Obama’s so-called impromptu remarks regarding the emotional reaction, mainly from pockets of black America, to the not guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial.

The Hill lists several economic indicators such as declining income, declining home ownership and the high unemployment rate to demonstrate just how poorly black Americans have fared under the nation’s first black president.  Yet, for the black political class (as well as black Americans generally), racial identification with the president takes precedence over socio-economic prosperity.

The Hill also notes how black politicians- some being members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are reluctant to criticize the president- constructive or otherwise- for fear of emboldening the political opposition.  Black politicians and black intelligentsia prefer the salve of racial identification to the hard and responsible task of genuine congressional and executive leadership- all at the expense of economic opportunity.

Unfortunately, “black leadership” is just as much a euphemism as “choice” and “equality.” These racial tribal chiefs are again publicly- and foolishly- embracing “race” and passivity regarding Obama’s economic stewardship rather than fighting for improved economic opportunity for their constituents.

It’s not the first time members of the Congressional Black Caucus have chosen the commonality of the president’s color as a priority over increasing economic opportunities for blacks. Last summer, Emanuel Cleaver noted: “With [such high] unemployment, if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.” He also said: “The president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”

So “racial empathy” means the president’s blackness trumps black unemployment.

For progressive black politicians to be this trivial with regard to the economic plight of so many Americans is disrespectful and shameful.

Since Barack Obama has been president, unemployment rate for blacks has been below thirteen percent only once (Jan. ’09) and has risen above 16 percent, thirteen times.  Furthermore, the unemployment rate for black teens has yet to drop below 30 percent and has risen above 40 percent, twenty-nine times.

The Congressional Black Caucus is obviously not too concerned with the unemployment rates in its representative districts.  But it should be known how their constituents have fared during president Obama’s “recovery.”

Keep in mind that the national unemployment rate is currently 7.6 percent and 13.7 percent for blacks.

– Karen Bass (CA-37) – 11.9%;

– Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) – 11.6%;

– Joyce Beatty (OH-03) – 12.1%;

– Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) – 15.2%;

– Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) – 14.6%;

– Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) – 11.7%;

– Corrine Brown (FL-05) -17.4%;

– Hank Johnson (GA-04) – 15.6%;

– G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) – 15.5%;

– Robin Kelly (IL-02) – 17.9%;

– Andre Carson (IN-07) – 13.9%;

– Barbara Lee (CA-13) -11 %;

– Donna M. Christensen (VI) – no stats given;

– John Lewis (GA-05) – 15.5%;

– Yvette Clarke (NY-09) – 12.7%;

– Gregory W. Meeks (NY-06) – 8.7%;

– William Lacy Clay Jr. (MO-01) -14.7%;

– Gwendolynne Moore (WI-O4) – 14.4%;

– Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-05) – 10.7%;

– Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) – 11.4%;

– James E. Clyburn (SC-06) – 16.4%;

– Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10) – 15.7%;

– John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) – 24.7%;

– Charles B. Rangel (NY-13) – 14.9%;

– Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) – 13.4%;

– Cedric Richmond (LA-02) – 12.5%;

– Danny K. Davis (IL-07) – 16.5%;

– Bobby L. Rush (IL-01) – 16.8%;

– Donna Edwards (MD-04) -9.5%;

– David Scott (GA-13) – 15.1%;

– Keith Ellison (MN-05) – 9.5%;

– Robert C. Scott (VA-03) – 13.1%;

– Chaka Fattah (PA-02) – 16%;

– Terri Sewell (AL-07)-16.1%;

– Marcia L. Fudge, Chairwoman of the CBC, (OH-11) – 17.7%;

– Bennie Thompson (MS-02) – 14.4%;

– Al Green (TX-09) – 10.7%;

– Marc Veasey (TX-33) – 13.3%;

– Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) -17.1%;

– Maxine Waters (CA-43) -11.3%;

– Steven Horsford (NV-04) – 12.9%;

– Melvin L. Watt (NC-12) – 15.3%;

– Frederica Wilson (FL-24) – 16.0%.

The average unemployment rate of the districts represented by the CBC is 13.8 percent.

Members of CBC currently represent many of the districts that are suffering the highest unemployment rates in the country.  Yet these so-called leaders choose to embrace racial empathy and racial solidarity rather than being actual leaders who should be pressuring the president to implement policies or reduce regulations that could diminish the absurd levels of unemployment for their constituents.

The CBC has become a national embarrassment- not only to their constituents, but to the congressional body itself.

And that’s saying something.

Black Americans who continue to elect political charlatans like these are unfortunately complicit in their own socio-economic asphyxiation.

With loyalty like this one can understand why the Democrat party takes blacks (elected and unelected alike) for granted and why the GOP ignores them completely.

It’s far past time- in a twenty-first century America which will soon celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech- that blacks rethink their reflexive and emotional embrace of race and “racial empathy.”

Refusal to do so in favor of the continued idolization and commodification of race will inevitably facilitate black America into a moral and political irrelevancy.

And the sad fact is that the black Americans who do so will have no one to blame but themselves.

Where’s The Black Church?

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The problems that have infected and affected the black community need to be immediately addressed in a serious and sincere manner.  Most of these problems have at their center a lack of morality that was once readily present and recognizable in black America but has become increasingly rare.  Considering the depths and consequences of these issues, there needs to be a focused and concentrated effort- originating from inside the black church- that renews the minds and hearts of black Americans.  This renewal should focus on Christian character development and discipleship as the corrective to the pervading troubles that now afflict black America.

That blacks are in need of spiritual (and social, and economic) renewal is no secret.  Certain segments of black America have given themselves over to behaviors that most people label counterproductive, destructive and undignified- from the astronomically high numbers of black children born outside of wedlock and disproportionately high rates of abortion; black-on-black violence, to what has been termed, ‘flash robs.”  Frankly, these behaviors are embarrassing and morally disturbing. We know that the black church has failed its moral and spiritual obligation of leadership because the effects of the cultural degradation are too abundant to ignore or claim otherwise.  Of course, not all black churches have failed.  But collectively they have.

What’s worse is that many of these behaviors are now accepted and referred to as “culturally authentic.”

Because of the postmodern trappings of “tolerance,” “diversity” and moral relativism, blacks have willingly relinquished the painful process of self-critiquing their own community.  The moral and spiritual deficiency have led black culture to define “authenticity” as comporting oneself with behaviors and stereotypes that the generations of many black grandparents and great-grandparents sought to avoid and overcome.  In other condescending terms, this “authenticity” has been equated with “acting black.”

Many well-meaning white people- Christian and non-Christian alike- are almost equally complicit in this destructive form of “tolerance”.  For out of fear of verbal- and potentially, physical- reprisals, such as being labeled “racist,” “insensitive,” or worse, they refuse to speak out and condemn these unacceptable behaviors, passively accepting and legitimizing a form of conduct that they would never accept from anyone in their own family. The soft bigotry of low expectations comes to mind here.

Recognizing the silence and impotence of the black church, we must assume that black ministers have been evasive regarding the discussion of personal and communal sin.  The sermons regarding the guilt and shame of socially self-destructive and damaging behaviors don’t contain the condemnation they once did.  Again, this truth is self-evident, predicated upon the preponderance of detrimental activity that proliferates within black culture. This behavior is troubling, and the unbecoming conduct represents moral and spiritual captivity, which is very much in need of redemption.  The first slavery was obvious- it was an existential reality recognized by blacks and though accepted as reality, it was challenged as a moral evil and was eventually abolished.   This second slavery, however, is much more reprehensible than the first because though blacks are physically free, spiritually, they’re very much still bound while being, physically, the freest blacks, ever, in the history of the world.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m angry and sad that a community whose heritage and dignity once coalesced around the lordship of Jesus and his church has allowed itself to come to this. The timidity of the black pulpit in not properly teaching the gospel of truth regarding spiritual liberation along with the kind of character that’s centered on the fruit of the Spirit, as well as not holding their congregations to a higher standard of personal and communal morality has had disastrous effects.  The black church is a storied and hallowed institution in American history and we’ve seen the power of the black church as evidenced by its historical stands against slavery and Jim Crow, as well as its morally-influential presence during the era of civil rights.  During these times, the black church truly was a moral beacon of light and hope. It spiritually sustained generations of blacks during periods of time in our country’s history when America was much more racist and unbecoming than it is now.  It fostered an elevated level of moral character that included “blessing one’s enemy” while, “turning the other cheek” when circumstances made it exceptionally difficult to do so.

Many argue that because of the Church’s spiritual complacency, its influence on American culture is fading; some of these arguments have merit.  The voice of the American church has been morally compromised when it comes to religious and ethical positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, high rates of adultery and divorce affecting natural marriage; justice, and righteousness when dealing with immigration and poverty to name a few.  But the lack of moral influence that the black church has had on America in general over the past forty years is nothing short of disheartening.

Blacks must realize that cultural and spiritual redemption won’t come at the tip of a pen from a progressive politician; if so, it would’ve happened by now.  It will only come by moral renewal- re-engaging in the process of sanctification by repenting and returning (metanoia) to the biblical values contained in the Christian faith of the Bible- the faith of their fathers- facilitated by a church that steadfastly bears witness to that reality in the pulpit by holding their congregations accountable.