I often wondered about the factors that allowed me so easily to go from a basically good life to a drug dealer/ criminal. It took a lot of soul searching but I believe that I came up with a few answers. I began to really look at the black community and what is has become. Why has our culture evolved into what seems to glorify many bad human traits. Our music and our neighborhoods exalt drug dealers and thugs over husbands, fathers, and factory workers. We call our women b’s and the men brag about being pimps and thugs. My grandparent’s generation would never have bragged about being considered ghetto. I remember using bad grammar as a young man and being told that I was not to act as though I was uneducated. Most of the people that I knew that used improper grammar did so because they didn’t know any better not because they thought it was something of honor.
I am torn about the black community. I love my people but I sometimes hate what we have become. I have always admired the fact that even though we are a people that were stripped of our identity. Robbed of our language, and taken from our original land we still have survived as a people. We have excelled in most of the things that we have put our mind to. In the face of some of the worst demonstration of cruelty and inhumanity we have continually celebrated our humanness. Black people are passionate, creative, beautiful people. We have a rich history that has constantly affected and shaped the rest of the world. From the Moors from north Africa that had a heavy influence on Europe; to the Ancient Egyptians that have astounded the rest of the world with their architecture and such.
Before I go forward I want to say a couple of things. First, I truly love black people. I have been black all my life! Many of my closest family members are black. My wife is black and my children. I grew up with black people. I believe that the descendants of Africa living in America are some of the greatest people on the earth.
The reason I start off with that is so that people realize that all that I say about black people is said out of love. I come across hard sometimes because I know how much potential we have. I have been able to accomplish things in my own life because I have been very frank with myself and sometimes pretty hard on myself. In Psalms 51 King David recognized that God requires that we have “truth in the inward parts” meaning we have to be honest with ourselves first in order to live this life in the correct manner. I also make that statement because I may be accused of harboring some type of hatred towards my people. I have never suffered from self hate; I have an honest heartfelt desire for African Americans to reach the full potential that God has placed inside of them!
At one point I began to get disillusioned with my black culture. Around the same time God began to heal me and to bring me back to wholeness I started to look at the factors that allowed me to get so far away from the true path that God wants for us. I was a law breaker, a liar, a fornicator, a failure, a bad parent and very selfish. No one would have mistaken me for a positive role model by any stretch of the imagination. When I looked at my overall life I was very disappointed at what I had become. I was a bad example of a man and it only took me a few years to get to that place. I lacked integrity, accountable, and only cared about myself. I knew that this is not how God wanted anybody to live.
Unfortunately I was not an uncommon example of many men in our society. I am speaking more so in regards of the black community but I must say that these negative characteristics exist in more and more people in our community. The Bible talks about the dangers of calling evil good and good evil. It also demonstrates more than once what happens when humans seek evil instead of good. Turning away from the ways of God never end up positively.
There are many different factors that I believe are prevalent in the demise of the morals of men but I want to discuss a few that I think are the most prominent.
The psychological bonds of slavery Believing the lie (Stockholm syndrome) Allowing hate to be your God. When you think about the impact that slavery has had on the psyche of the black man; it truly cannot be discounted in any way. Even approximately 144 years after the emancipation proclamation was signed there is still a strong residue left in the black community. Many of the negative habits resemble what was instilled in the race during the 300+ years that black people were enslaved here in the US.
Think about how the black male was used almost as a sire to breed with the black women to make the biggest and the strongest child to produce more good slaves. The men were not able to stay and help raise their own children; they were shipped from on master to the next as a piece of property. It is no wonder why some black men wear fathering many children to different women as a badge of honor. Also, think about the divisiveness that has plagued the black community over “light skinned” blacks vs. “dark skinned” blacks. I believe these are direct results of the things that were impressed upon the race through the institution of slavery.
There was a letter written many years ago by a man named Willie lynch. I would encourage you to read the letter in order to fully understand what I am referring to. Many of you are probably familiar with this letter. In the letter it outlined a very intentional and systematic way in which to not only keep the slaves in a form of mental slavery but it also was intended to maintain this mindset for many years to come. It caused a breakdown of the family structure as well as used distrust between blacks and competition for the slave master’s approval.
I don’t believe that any of this should or can be used as an excuse for why not to achieve whatever you desire to accomplish. I write this simply to acknowledge that these things do exist and they have left a lasting impression in the black community. Knowledge is power and once you have the knowledge that these spiritual concepts exist then you also have the power to overcome them.
Another concept that I want to briefly address is the Stockholm syndrome. It is named after a syndrome in which people that were taken into captivity for a long period of time eventually began to sympathize and even defended those people that had them in captivity. I know that I am probably using this term very loosely but I believe this dynamic is similar to a mentality in our community. In essence, those who are being enslaved by others begin to empathize with them believing that somehow they deserve to be treated the way they are. They accept their position and the desire to rise above their circumstance disappears. They agree with their oppressors assessment of them and they begin to act in accordance with what they have been called.
Think about the use of the “N” word. I stopped using that word around the same time that God convicted me of cursing. For many years I was a champion curser. I grew up in the hood where everybody thought it was cool to cuss. I played sports, in which gives you an open outlet to express yourself through using profanity. I was in the military; in the military profanity is so natural that if you don’t cuss no one thinks you are serious about what you are saying. The culture at large encourages bad language through the media, the music, and on and on.
The Bible tells us that blessings and curses are in the power of the tongue. In the Biblical culture it was so important to realize the power of the spoken blessing that Esau even wanted to kill his brother Jacob for stealing his father’s blessing that was meant for him.
Taking that into consideration imagine how much damage we do to each other by calling ourselves “N”’s or dogs or B’s or pimps, thugs, or all the other horrible names we affectionately call each other. It is no wonder why some black people act like low life ignorant people. They have had that spoken into them all their lives.
Many blacks have embraced all the harsh words of curse that has been spoken over them and their community and we see the manifestation of it through high crime rates in the black community, high teenage pregnancy rates as well as an increase of HIV and AIDS among inner city blacks. I remember the statistics in the late 80’s and early 90’s showed that 1 out of every 4 black males living in the inner city would die before reaching their 25 birthday. Most of the deaths came at the hands of another person that looked just like them.
The third point I want to discuss is allowing hate to become our God. This came to me during the fall of 2008. I remember getting into a discussion about “Black Liberation theology”. The discussion started from an article I wrote concerning then Senator Barack Obama’s former Pastor Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. In the article I outlined the basic tenets of BLT and why I felt that it was not based on Biblical concepts. The responses that I received and the open dialogues that came from it was eye opening.
From a secular standpoint it is understandable. The world would say that it is OK to get revenge from wrongdoing and to remember past injustices perpetrated against us. The World would tell you it is OK to look out for those people in your respective race over another one. It is undeniable that the institution of slavery and racism plagued us for hundreds of years and the residue still haunts the black community even today. I have experienced both overt and covert racism in my life. I know that I have been denied certain opportunities due to my race.
I sympathize with my father’s and grandfather’s generations. They had to endure many things that no group of people should ever have to endure. I admire how they stood up in the face of being treated as less than human and lived normal lives for the most part. I would like to think that I could have survived slavery and not went totally insane.
The beautiful thing about the God that I serve is that He promise that if I trust in him, not only will He exact vengeance against those who have wronged me but He will also heal my heart. My responsibility is not to hold grudges and wish hurt on those who wronged me. My job is to release them through praying for them and loving them regardless. The first rule of thumb with God is that if you want something, you have to be willing to give the same thing out. Since we all need mercy and forgiveness then we have to give it to others.
I believe that forgiving someone is one of the most difficult things to do. It is very easy to hold animosity against someone that you feel has wronged you. Unfortunately God does not allow this. The biggest thing that Jesus did was to allow for our forgiveness because we wronged God through sin and disobedience. Because He has freely given us the gift of forgiveness we must give it to everyone else. Unforgiveness hinders our relationship with God. It also hinders us from having the proper relationship with our fellow man. But more importantly it hurts us. Unforgiveness is like a poison that eats away at our insides. I have heard that holding negative feelings against someone is like drinking poison with the hope that the other person will die.
Because of all the pain and hurt that has been inflicted against African Americans for so many years, many people of color still harbor hatred against whites. You can see the effects of it in the community. As I stated earlier blacks have internalized such negative feelings for so long that we subconsciously destroy ourselves. Most of the crimes perpetrated in the inner cities against blacks come from the hands of other blacks.
Think about the race riots from LA with Rodney King, from Watts in the 60’s, in DC with the assassination of MLK, throughout the years. Blacks were angry about injustices committed against them so they destroyed their own communities. They looted their own stores, and set their own houses on fire. They showed their hatred for white people by hurting themselves.
I think about my years of rebellion and how I ultimately did more harm to myself than to anyone else. The drugs, the dealing, the alcohol, all put me in danger more than anyone else could have. It was as if I wanted to kill myself but I was just too chicken to go ahead and do it. You know killing yourself is still considered a sign of weakness in the hood.
That is what harboring hate does to a person. Some of us have gotten so overwhelmed with feeling hatred against whites that it causes us to fail. Young black kids in school that don’t want to seem too smart because it makes them seem like they are acting “white”. Acting real “ghetto” or just pretending like I don’t care about anything are signs of the non-conforming attitude caused by hate. We ultimately cause our lives to fail because we don’t want to seem to be conforming to the white man’s world.
Dealing with a person that is controlled by hate can be a very difficult thing; especially when that person has been “disenfranchised”. When a person begins to have hatred and teams that hatred with a feeling of hopelessness there is nothing that can provoke them to anything but self-destruction. I remember hanging out with some real “gutter” guys that didn’t fear going to jail. The environment that they came from seemed so unbearable that jail just wasn’t that bad.
In a world that has become so materialistic we see young people using material possession as an indicator of self worth. They begin to feel as though having a fancy car, expensive clothes, and more money determines whether or not you are somebody in life. Since many young people from the inner city have been given the impression that they can never accumulate such things by legitimate means, they pursue it by the easiest means they can.
Telling a young black boy from the hood that if he works hard, gets good grades, and keeps himself clean he can be rich by the time he is 40 or 50 doesn’t work, for the most part. Many of them have never seen anyone that looks like them or who has come from where they are from become financially independent. As a matter of fact from some areas, they don’t see many men even live that long. In that case, why not get it now the easiest way that they can drugs or robbery.
The Notorious BIG had a song about wealth that states: “either you slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot”. The rapper “50 cent” had a very popular CD entitled “get rich or die trying”. These themes and much more of popular black culture glorified a lifestyle of wealth over character or morality. The mentality is in order for you to gain wealth you were either a talented rapper, you grew to be 6’8” and played in the NBA; or you were a street hustler. Self hate has brought many of us in the black community to the point of feeling as though the only self worth we will have is through material gain. We perpetuate this sentiment through our culture, our music, and our behaviors.
I remember a big controversy that happened recently in which radio personality Don Imus called the Rutgers girls college basketball team “nappy headed hoes”. When he said it he did it in the form of a joke. It was a slang term that is used in this age more than it should be. I was at home talking with my wife sometime soon after that incident and for effects I said “I am not mad at Imus, maybe he didn’t know any better”. Her look told me in not so many words that she disagreed with me. I then turned the television channel to BET and there were young black women dressed very scantily and they were dancing on table tops and bars. Watching all this was a group of young black men, draped in gold chains, gold teeth, and all tattooed up throwing money at them and pouring expensive champagne on the floor. My point is that if we treat our young women like strippers and allow them to be disrespected by us, then how we can expect anyone else to respect them.
Those young women that the music and videos treat as though their butt and breasts give them value are someone’s daughters, sisters, wives, and someone’s mother. We will never have the respect that we need or desire as long as we allow women in general to be treated simply as objects for men to fulfill their lustful desires with.
Once I realized that as a Christian my self- worth comes from God. God created me intentionally the way I am. He implanted destiny in each one of us and He gave each and every one of us the talent and the ability to achieve great things. I came to the conclusion that sexual prowess, material items, or rebelling in excess was nothing worth achieving. Living my life in agreement with what God calls me to is the only truly honorable thing in life.
Being married and raising godly children is the most honorable thing that a man could do. Being sexually pure and saving yourself for your spouse is something to brag about. Getting educated and being able to articulate your thoughts and feelings without cursing or using bad language is the type of thing that leaves a legacy for your children and your community. It should be more of a brag to earn a Master’s degree or a PHD than it is to own 4 Lexus’. School teacher’, fireman, and police officers are much more of a hero than a drug dealer or a man with multiple children with multiple women. Unfortunately the current culture upholds the bad and ignores the good.
Honestly speaking I cannot say that this is simply the black comunity’s problem, but I am addressing it primarily because this chapter is about the black community. There is a serious problem in our community and that is what I am here to address.
This country’s moral decline is also becoming very evident. I am amazed at how low the moral caliber of popular entertainment has become. I was tuning through the cable channels and the shows are horrible. I looked at BET and every video was about sex, drugs, and materialism. The women were acting like strippers or simply sex objects, and the men were waving wads of cash, showing off massive amounts of tattoos, and everyone had a very expensive car and a mansion. Is that the extent of what we are about?
Just think about shows like the Soprano’s that made a mafia crime family look like the all American family. It was a show about a crime family that did illegal activity and murdered people yet they were treated like heroes. This series was considered one of the best shows of all time. Now there are shows on cable about a friendly serial killer and a male prostitute that is well endowed. This is what we call entertainment.
We meditate on bad things day and night. We focus on sexuality, materialism, and accepting bad choices. We glorify stars that jump from one relationship to another. We think it is chic for women and men to be considered bi-sexual. We see the fruit of that meditation coming out in the lives of those that focus on them. We allow all the bad things into our mind, glorifying it yet we expect different results to come out of it. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7-16 (amp)).
The problem with all this is that it seems to have hit the black community the worse. We still have the lowest life expectancy in the country. Our average household income is still well below that of whites; and now black woman have the highest rate of new HIV and Aids cases in the country. We also by far are incarcerated at an alarmingly high rate in comparison to whites. And, 35% of all abortions are done on African American women even though we make up only around 12% of the population. In Washington DC, a city that is over 70% AA, 5% of the total population is HIV positive. If that is not a problem than what would you call it?
There is a hope for the better tomorrow that God has promised. The first thing we have to do is to forgive those who we believe have wronged us and continually do so. Once you forgive others it frees you from the heavy burden of anger and hatred. We have to love others in order for us to love ourselves. Forgiving people means that you cannot hold onto the burden of hatred towards them, no matter what they did. It does not mean that you ignore mistreatment, racism, and unfair practices; it just means that you cannot harbor hatred or anger against the perpetrators or you will not be able to grow and mature as a person. Matthew 6:15 states, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.
The next step is to accept that our identity comes from God and not man. When we realize that we are precious creations of the father. God created each of us intentionally as we are. He has wonderful plans for my life and therefore I must shun the world’s definition of value. My value is great in the kingdom of God and no material possessions or man given status can replace the identity that we have as God’s people.
I must also acknowledge that once I am saved and redeemed through the blood of Christ then my kingdom identity takes precedence over my earthly identity. The family of God takes priority over the biological family that I was born into. I see many black people that allow their blackness to be more important than their identity in Christ. That is why there is a bondage that takes place in people because many cultural habits contradict God’s Word. Many Christians from all races place their race over God’s Word.
Lastly, it is about choices. No matter what your past is you can choose to do the right thing. We know that there is a right way to live yet we choose the wrong path and wonder why we have such distress in our lives. I made wrong conscious choices in my life. I knew I shouldn’t sleep around yet I did it because it felt good. The results were a divorce, a fractured family, etc. etc. I knew that I should stay away from drugs but I did them anyway. I recognized that bad choices ended me up in a bad place.
I see many people in our communities making many bad choices. Parents that don’t want to discipline their children and then wonder why they end up in jail. We glamorize sexual promiscuity over purity and holiness yet we wonder why there is such a high level of unwed pregnancies, STD’s, and broken relationships; why the abortion rate is so high in the AA community. When you start out on the wrong path, you will end up in places you do not want to be!
You have a choice. Right choices bring us blessings, peace, and prosperity. When we make the right choices then God strengthens us to keep making the right choices. The right choices are often hard to make but they save us a lifetime of despair and hurt. Hurt for ourselves and hurt for our children and loved ones. If you are not sure what choices to make I would like to suggest a great book for you to read!
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live (Amp)