Much has been written about the decline and near decimation of the American black family. It’s not too strong to say the American black family is in crisis to the point of cultural suicide.
This is not to say that there are not many individuals and families who’ve done well, made significant contributions to American culture, produced leaders, or counted many notable achievements in every field of endeavor, including a current President of the United States. But still, the black family and particularly young black males are in serious trouble.
More than one-third of black children live in poverty. Upwards of 70% of black children are born into homes with an absentee father and an unwed mother. Black men are woefully far behind white counterparts in education, which undermines their employment potential. They drop out of school at almost twice the rate of white kids. Black children are three times more likely to live in single-parent households. Black males are imprisoned at a rate six and one-half times greater than white males.
The Black unemployment rate is 89% higher than the white rate (8.7% vs. 16.5%). The high school drop out rate for blacks in some major cities is close to 50%, some up to 75%. Blacks comprise 49% of all homicide victims and 35% of state and federal prisoners. All this simply scratches the surface of a set of social indicators very low and headed lower.
Something has to be done. Yet political leaders on both sides of the partisan aisle and on both ends of the ideological spectrum really don’t have any answers, assuming they pay attention at all.
Education would help, of course, especially in an age when employment depends far more on brains than brawn. But education won’t work if the black family culture remains in shambles. There’re not enough teachers or social workers to assure black children are in school, work hard, and are fed and clothed.
Leadership is gravely needed, and it’s needed most from within the black community. Blacks are going to have to do for themselves because it is eminently apparent others are not going to do for them. Black leaders, civic, business, education, religious, political, need to join voices and efforts and help black families pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Washington, D.C. is not going to do it and neither are state capitals--I'm not discounting how government may be helpful in reducing the impact of racism; I'm just saying there's a lot more to the story and black leaders must lead the charge.
What’s needed more than anything else is a spiritual revival in the black family. Politics, education, government programs, social work, all of these have their place but none can change hearts, value systems, and ultimately cultures.
If the black family is to survive and certainly if more of them are to thrive, a huge spiritual transformation must take place. They need new value systems based on who black individuals are in God’s eyes, not government’s. This can only come from religious, spiritual, and I’d say, Christian sources. Nothing else is going to work on it’s own, not even education, essential though it is.
Finally, another troubling thing about all this: the amount of time and money American churches put into international missions, which is good and appropriate, versus how little time and money is given to reaching and rescuing people across town. The black family needs the Church, red, yellow, black, and white.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
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