Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the Black Panther Party encouraged black Americans to take up arms against White America. Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X even made a promise to white Americans that black Americans would obtain equal rights and protections under the law “by any means necessary.” At the time, white Americans considered Malcolm’s remarks inflammatory, because his intended meaning was that black Americans would punch, kick and shoot any white American hindering their advance toward prosperity. But after a brief trip to Mecca, Malcolm’s views on what these means were began to change. And when all was said and done, he articulated a vision that had black Americans working with white Americans to bring about positive societal reforms.
But reforming American society for the better is easier said than done. The problems that divided us Americans along racial lines then persist now. These days, many white Americans are appearing on television news programs to tell the American public that black Americans need to forget their past victimization and move on. There have even been instances in which these same white Americans identify themselves as victims.
The growing sentiment is that white Americans are being discriminated against when their group members are passed over for college admission or job promotion. And the overriding belief is we Blacks condone the same discrimination that our ancestors fought against. But by harboring such views, these unenlightened Americans show us, and the world at large, the low value that they place on the contributions and lives of black Americans. It also demonstrates a lack of understanding on their part.
Consider this example from my life as a married man. Whenever I wrong my wife, I do whatever it takes to make amends. I offer sincere apologies, communicating both verbally and nonverbally that I know why my actions towards her were inappropriate. Following this apology, I put forth efforts designed to regain her trust, let her know that I will never mistreat her in such a way again. Ultimately, I’m on a mission to show her the extent of my love.
One could argue that America’s love for its black citizens isn’t deep at all. If it were, an apology from President Lyndon B. Johnson would have preceded the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Moreover, enlightened white Americans would have been in an uproar, making President Johnson aware of his omission through letter-writing campaigns, television appearances and nonviolent marches in Washington, DC.
Because none of these allowances were made, we black Americans feel that we must get our act together in isolation. We know it is possible, because of the period that we find ourselves living in, a period of collective prosperity. The foundational hallmark of this period is that people from all ethnic groups have been granted the inalienable rights to life, liberty and happiness. Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t a single black individual or black organization that communicated the need to make repairs to the thoughts and feelings driving our behaviors.
One of the first things we black Americans should have done following the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was create a subsystem that caters to the educational, spiritual and physical needs of black American children, youths and adults. But this seemingly did not occur because our parents and ancestors thought the programs being offered by local, state and federal governments were sufficient. They were sufficient to the point of cultivating a dependence on government assistance, but they did nothing to help black Americans recover psychologically from over 400 years of institutionalized oppression.
There are some who would say this subsystem was supposed to be channeled through the black church. It was the one institution that called on black Americans to stand up and be noticed. But 43 years later, the black church is no closer to taking on this responsibility. All it seems to be concerned about is providing forums for Wednesday night bible studies and Sunday morning worship services.
Now don’t get me wrong. These bible studies and worship services do work together to increase our knowledge of God and our purposes here on Earth. But the fact still remains that the black church has never challenged its members to devise uniform, interactive approaches for placing more black American children, youths and parents on the road to recovery. Our contemporary, black churches are seemingly islands unto themselves, not wanting to display unity when addressing the psychosis of its constituents.
But the most natural place to establish this subsystem is in our public schools. It is the place where our black ancestors wanted our black American children and youths to spend a significant portion of their days. However, you would be hard pressed to hear about or see programs dedicated to the psychological enrichment of black American children and youths. Instead, you have a public school system that requires our black American children and youths to assimilate into programs predominated by white American children and youths. In settings such as these, our black American children and youths are taught to esteem the norms, values and mores of the majority ethnic group while ignoring the ones held by their own.
We must face the realities associated with trying to establish such a subsystem in our public schools. School administrators of all hues, while saying they respect all students’ right to peaceful assembly, usually are sitting on pins and needles when meetings are convened by a group of black American students. These administrators seemingly feel that these black American students (and their black adult advisors) are spending their time together berating Whites for their mistreatment of Blacks. In their minds, these black American students (and their black adult advisors) are drawing up plans that will require them to make additional educational reforms.
If educational reforms are needed, they should be made. Today’s public school system is structured in a way that continues to benefit white American children and youths. These benefits are most profound in middle and high school environments where white American students wear their privilege and popularity like badges of honor. Privileged black American students can often be seen shunning all references to their blackness in an attempt to fit in with their white counterparts. In their minds, they don’t want their white American friends to feel uncomfortable around them.
Recently, I learned while listening to Tavis Smiley’s November 16, 2007 Public Radio International (PRI) podcast that the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center reported that today’s Black America is divided into two distinct worlds – one occupied by the black Haves, the other by the black Have-Nots. While this phenomenon is a throw-back to divisions (i.e., House Negroes versus Field Negroes) of slave-to-master proximity, it also shows how we black Haves tend to wipe our hands clean of the black Have-Not’s condition.
To many of us, black Haves continuing the fight for equal treatment (i.e., black activism) would lead to our becoming a social pariah in the eyes of white Americans. More than anything, we black Haves are committed to showing White America that we climbed to loftier heights through our blood, sweat and tears, not the Affirmative Action policies that make educational and vocational opportunities more accessible to persons of color and women.
But it is this selfish attitude among us black Haves that is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the black Have-Nots. They resent us, saying most of us have forgotten where we came from. Yes, it may feel good for our white colleagues to pat us on our backs for a job well done. But when our workdays have ended, we still have to walk the nation’s streets as persons of African descent.
The resentment that black Have-Nots harbor for black Haves does not exempt them from criticism, however. They have to stop blaming white Americans for their condition, start making more deliberate strides to change it. Granted, there are a number of factors keeping them down, with many of them being connected to our institutions, but many of the black Have-Nots are focusing much of their attention on things outside of their control. Consequently, they get caught up in cycles of impoverished hopelessness, which causes many of them to drop out of high school. And those black Have-Nots who manage to graduate from high school often opt not to attend college or trade school, or join the military.
Ultimately, it will be black American’s shared testimony about how we got it together that will cause prejudiced and discriminating white Americans to stand beside the enlightened ones. And when they stand beside their already enlightened white brothers and sisters, they will also find themselves standing in the company of black Americans. While standing there, we black Americans need to talk with them about God’s vision for our future, one that has every citizen of the nation and the world doing unto others as they would have others do unto them. More importantly, though, we need to let them know that they have been forgiven for their unrighteous maneuvers. Through our daily interactions with them, we should communicate (both verbally and nonverbally) our belief in their newfound willingness to invite us to the table of brotherhood, finally accepting us as equals on a level playing field.
© 2007 Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave all of humanity a new lease on life when he was crucified dead and buried only to be resurrected three days later. This one selfless act paid the penalty for our sin. And the bible tells us that whoever believes on him will not perish but have everlasting life. But that’s not the end of the story. The bible also tells us that Christ has scheduled a return visit to Earth to unite the body of believers with God the Father.
But what must we do to be in this number, this body of believers? The Apostle Peter is reported to have replied in Acts 2:38-39 (New International Version) that we must first “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Perry is correct in writing that many black Americans are waiting on another messiah to help them take hold of their 40 acres and a mule. At the height of his ministry, Dr. King was considered a modern-day messiah. But to those other individuals who emerged from the Civil Rights Movement’s golden age to see another day, Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 seemingly caused Black America to lose both its moral conscience and sense of purpose. As a result, they believe that generations of black children and youths have been growing up with a false sense of what is required to take advantage of educational and vocational opportunities in America.
I still recall how these false sentiments played out during my childhood in Kingsport, Tennessee. A number of the people I grew up with managed to graduate from high school to attend college or serve time in the military, but countless others made choices that robbed them of opportunities to lay a firm foundation for individual prosperity. Many of these others sold and used drugs, later serving time behind bars. There were also the ones who had children out of wedlock – the mothers becoming dependent on the welfare system, many of the fathers continuing to live the lives of Rolling Stones.
What these others failed to exercise was their moral consciences. Their moral consciences would have allowed them to choose righteous paths over unrighteous ones. Rather than selling and using drugs, they would have been excelling in school and serving others in their communities. Rather than having children out of wedlock, the young fathers and young mothers would have been able to foresee the consequences of their fornicating ways. They would have realized very early in the game that individual and collective prosperity awaits those individuals who save themselves for the true love of spouses.
And when our moral consciences operate from positions of righteousness, we are more likely to have an accurate understanding of our purpose, both individually and collectively. Deep down inside, I think we all know that life is not about participating in a never-ending party of drugs, sex and violence. Life should be about leaving behind legacies that serve as testaments of our love for God (vertical relationship) and neighbors (horizontal relationships). But our actions are reflective of a human culture whose members are consumed with getting to the top, forgetting those individuals who have yet to catch up to us.
If you need proof, let me direct your attention to the evolution of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Reducing the poverty rate was a national concern during the 1950s and ‘60s. We can never forget that during this period in our shared history, the nation was recovering from The Great Depression and World War II. But out of this concern came such programs as Head Start, food stamps, work study, Medicare and Medicaid, to name only a few. But in the early 1990s, the federal government began to view the poor in a different light, one that blamed them for the onset of their problems.
Our leaders now believed the more we give them (the poor), the more they want. “To them,” they seemingly would say behind closed doors, “it’s free money.” Ultimately, this mindset would lead the Clinton Administration to place a five-year time limit on the assistance that the poor could receive through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Those most affected by this measure were single, black American women.
As a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, my professors in the College of Social Work would often share case studies of black American women with children who entered the ranks of the impoverished after separating from and/or divorcing their spouses. The nature of why these black American queens opted to have sexual relations with unreliable males was not explained to us. But one thing was for certain, a large proportion of our black American men weren’t trying to be like Ward Cleaver, the white American patriarch in the hit television comedy Leave It to Beaver. Truth be told, they didn’t want to be anything like white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant males. The lives that they led resembled the one led by the black American character Priest (played by actor Ron O’Neal) from the 1972 film Superfly.
Priest was a cocaine dealer in Harlem, New York who began to realize that his life would soon end with either prison or death. For black American men, Priest represented progress because he was a self-made millionaire. Because of this warped mindset, this glamorization of criminality, many of our black American men grew up to become criminals themselves, conducting open-air sales of heroin, marijuana and cocaine in cities across America. Unfortunately, the very nature of their profession forbade them from being shackled by the demands of parenthood.
And this is why we find ourselves fighting tooth and nail to save our black American children and youths from the streets. Our children and youths equate being black in America with the drug dealers, gang members, pimps and prostitutes. Even though these individuals make their money through unrighteous maneuvers, they are still respected by our youngsters. They are the controllers of their own destinies, their necks finally being freed from the nooses of white racism, prejudice and discrimination.
But what they fail to see is the trail of dead (and living dead), black bodies that are left in the wake of the black underworld’s unrighteous maneuvers. Black Americans are disproportionately dying from murder and drug overdoses. Black American children are disproportionately being removed from their homes to be placed in foster care. Ultimately, black American adults are disproportionately being incarcerated for black-on-black crimes.
You would think that these outcomes would encourage our children to excel academically and vocationally. But they aren’t. They are blinded by the bling-bling, thinking that the most important color is green, not black.
In the final analysis, though, we Blacks must see the error of our ways, simultaneously dropping to our knees to repent. Not just for the sins we commit against our neighbors here on Earth, but for forgetting that somebody has already saved us. But after we have made amends with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps in helping ourselves, our peers and our group's youngest members capture the impure thoughts that prevent them from taking hold of this nation's prosperity.
You see, taking responsibility for self begins with a single thought. These thoughts can make us feel either good about ourselves or bad. That’s one of the reasons why it is so important for us to man down (become selfless rather than remain selfish). God wants us to feel good about helping our brothers and sisters find their way to the well of salvation (Jesus), not the hottest drug on the street. Once they have tasted the water from this well, they will be more motivated to work with like-minded individuals to bring about positive changes to Black America and, ultimately, the world at large.
© 2007 Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
When I first heard the word "Facebook", I didn't know what to think. But this confusion didn't last long, as I wasted no time opening up a Facebook account. By opening this account, I have been able to connect with family and old friends. I have also been able to make new acquaintances from the worlds of freelance writing and socially conscious blogging. And, to tell you the truth, posting status updates and hyperlinks on Facebook has become, let's say, quite addictive.
This is what I learned from my viewing of The Social Network:
- If you want to grow your passion and make it more purposeful, you must be willing to bring others along for the ride. Where you are weak, these others are strong.
- If one or more of these others starts using words and engaging in behaviors that make you less passionate about a goal or dream, you need to cut them loose. You can't be successful if your passion is waning.
- Online social networks are great. But if you fail to develop meaningful, long-term relationships with people offline, your life will be miserable and meaningless. We were created for the benefit, not the detriment, of others.
- Social networking plays a critical role in bringing people together. But that should not blind us computer users to the fact that there are a number of people who lack the tools (i.e., computers) to make online connections. The digital divide is real, and it must be closed. It must also remain affordable and accessible.
- It is great that social networking sites are used to bring people together. The question we need to ask is what do we do when we find ourselves in the same space. I say we exchange ideas and then get down to the business of creating what slain Civil Right leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called "The Beloved Community".
I look forward to reading your responses.
Here's a link that may interest you:
Report: Blogging Falls to Facebook and Twitter
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
But what I can't understand is why ET and other news programs and publications would think consumers would be interested in a news item that did not lead to an arrest. While it is true that Ted Williams' "Redemption Tour" is being played out in the national media, we also know that part of the redemption process requires that he work with his mother, two ex-wives and nine children to resolve their deep-seated resentments toward each other. Williams did go AWOL on his family, living for years as a drug-addicted homeless man.
Of course you and I both know the media isn't going to grant this family the time it needs to begin the healing process. Besides receiving red carpet treatment from the talking heads at ET, Williams has also been interviewed by Dr. Phil McGraw. Even Oprah Winfrey has reportedly said she would love for him to do voice-overs for featured shows on her new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). I also heard that some outfit wants to feature Williams in a reality television series.
I'm not going to lie. If there was a reality television series featuring Ted Williams, I would probably watch it. I, like so many other people, want to see if Williams has what it takes to take full advantage of his second chance. But I also predict this media scrutiny is going to be the end of Ted Williams.
It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that this sudden fame is blinding Williams to the fact he has been a deadbeat parent. He did tell another one of his daughters that he would buy her a Louis Vuitton purse in the midst of her plea for him to solidify his family relationships. He made this offer probably thinking his newfound ability to purchase "things" would make up for his once being absent and irresponsible. But it won't. If anything, it is going to cause him to live up to a standard that could possibly be beyond his reach.
My hope is that other deadbeat fathers will take notice of the emotionally charged discussions between Ted Williams and his children. I pray these deadbeat fathers will understand the impact their absence and irresponsibility has on their ex-girlfriends/wives and the children they helped sire. We children understand that you were too immature and stupid to see the writing on the wall during our childhoods. But we continue to hope that years of more mature thinking will motivate you to be present helps in the lives of your grandchildren. The way you treat your grandchildren, coupled with the quality time you spend with them, will ultimately cause salve to be applied to our open wounds, for you have shown us that you have learned the error of your ways.
What do you think?
Will Ted "Golden Voice" Williams be able to maintain sobriety while simultaneously restoring his family relationships?
I look forward to reading your responses.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
But that is not what they're going to do. For the next two years, I predict the rehashing of a debate that was closed when the health care legislation was passed through majority votes in both the House and the Senate. And for what? Don't they realize that we the people want reforms that a) make health care more affordable, b) hold insurers accountable, c) expand health care to all Americans, and d) make our health system sustainable?
In 2010, the GOP repeatedly argued health reform is a "government takeover of health care." But, according to Politifact, a respected nonpartisan watchdog, this statement was "the lie of the year."
In their report, PolitiFact authors Bill Adair and Angie Drobnic Holan write, "But the law that Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market." They go on to assert that:
- Employers will continue to provide health insurance to the majority of Americans through private insurance companies.
- Contrary to the claim, more people will get private health coverage. The law sets up "exchanges" where private insurers will compete to provide coverage to people who don't have it.
- The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors.
- The law does not include the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would have competed with private insurers.
- The law gives tax credits to people who have difficulty affording insurance, so they can buy their coverage from private providers on the exchange. But here too, the approach relies on a free market with regulations, not socialized medicine.
The perfect storm for nonpartisan politics has arrived. But John Boehner and the Republican-led House of Representatives are being blinded by their deep-seated desire to remove President Obama from office after only one four-year term, possibly replacing him with the likes of Tea Party ambassador Sarah Palin. However, their goal should not be to repeal the 2010 health care reform legislation. They should first be more accepting of it as a vehicle for serving the best interest of the most Americans. Thereafter, they should commit themselves to working collaboratively with the Obama administration and other Democratic lawmakers to strengthen its weak areas, if any exist.
Truth be told, I think the GOP believes they have a real chance to reclaim the United States presidency in 2012. Maybe they do, I don't know. But at the outset of their reclamation of the House of Representatives, I would have to say, "Fat chance!" America is in the midst of an economic crisis, and GOP leaders continue to show their commitment to doing and saying nothing to help right our sinking ship. If they don't watch out, they will witness a reversal of fortune in 2012, because you can fool WE THE PEOPLE once, but don't think it's going to happen twice.
GOP leaders have consistently shown the American people that they do not have prescriptions for the nation's ills.
What do you think?
I look forward to reading your responses.