It's Hard but It's True: A look at the underlying problems that adversely affect African Americans

I am a man greatly torn on the inside.  My heart has been very heavy over the last few years.  My grief is for my people, African Americans.  Why am I grieved? I am grieved because from my perspective (which could be narrow) my people are not faring well in life.  It is true that many African Americans do well and will continue to do so.  However, statistically speaking and if we stay on our present course, we will see a major demise in the quality and character of people in our culture in all aspects of society. 

One reason for such a downturn, from this black man’s perspective, is that we refuse to look at the real underlying problems that adversely affect our community and address them.  We’ve cited high unemployment as a problem.  We’ve cited a new rise in racism as a problem.  We’ve cited lack of funding for our communities and education.  We’ve looked at the low achievement of our people in the education system.  We’ve even cited the failure of our government to understand our needs and to be proactive in addressing our needs.  I did not mention the waves of murders of our young black men or the failure of African Americans to be active in the political process.   While the list of issues is quite extensive, it is my belief that all of the aforementioned and others are simply manifestations of the underlying problems that has birthed most of the ills concerning us. 

Firstly, let’s establish what an underlying problem is.  An underlying problem is a problem that gives birth to other problems.  Let’s take the problems associated with single parenting for an example.  Statistically speaking, when a child is born to a single parent that parent becomes poorer because she is now living for two.  Let’s say that this child is born to a teen mother whose daddy is irresponsible.  She now has to get government assistance to help her feed her child, to provide medical care, day care, and the like.  As the child grows up and the father is absent the mother struggles and she is unavailable to the child as parents should be, because she is trying to carve out a living.  In situations like this it is not uncommon for a woman to turn to another man for help because she is trying to make it.  Before she knows it she is pregnant again.  All we have to do from this point on is to look at the many negative statistics caused by angry children particularly from families with absentee fathers.  On a problem like this, if we state the hard truth, we can’t blame white people for the pregnancy.  We can’t blame white people for the irresponsible father.   We cannot even blame republicans for cutting back on entitlement programs. The underlying problem is that there was an absence of morality on the part of the mother and father of the child. 

The solution for us as a people would be to teach and emphasize what is morally right regarding sexuality.  We must address the importance of abstinence.  We must greatly, greatly, emphasize the importance of family and having both mother and father raising their children.  We must get away from glorifying “my baby’s daddy” or “my baby’s momma.” Now here is the real problem in this example as well as some of the others that will be presented later.  An issue like this is addressed in the Bible.  For this argument I realize that not everyone has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  However the principles that God set forth for living life works whether you are a Christian or not

In this same example if that young lady and young man had abstained, her situation would be different.  Her opportunities to advance would have been easier.  We would not have an angry or irresponsible child.  We certainly would not have the second child.  Society would benefit because the young lady would have a better chance to become a contributor to society.  The chances that her children would repeat the cycle is eliminated because there are no illegitimate children and no single parenting.  All of the adverse issues that she would encounter and that could promote other adverse issues are eliminated simply because she practiced abstinence.  In this case the underlying problem is his and her immorality.  Our reactions to a situation such as this would be to focus most of our energies and resources on the problems that are the “children,” the consequences of the underlying problem.  This is one of the main reasons why we continue to struggle.

I am not advocating ignoring the “children” of the underlying problems.   I am advocating for us to start dealing with the underlying problems that are giving birth to many of the major ills in our culture and communities.  If we are willing to do this, I have no doubt that we can turn things around.

What I will express in these writings is hard but it’s true.  This journey for real change that I am embarking on in no way diminishes the efforts that have been put forth and are now being put forth for change and improvement.  My goal is three-fold:  1) To reveal the fact that we’ve been working on the symptoms of our problems and not the real issues;  2) To put forth the underlying issues in our culture that give birth to the many other ills that do not promote the wellbeing and success of our people.  I do not want to simply put forth these issues for conversation.  3) To offer viable and attainable solutions that will help unite us as a people, give us hope, give us direction, empower our future, and greatly diminish a large portion of these ills. 

In the next blog I will identify what I feel is the number one underlying problem that hinders the progress of the African American community.  It is the problem for which many of us are culpable.

What do you think?

Reverend Lawrence Robinson