It’s Hard but It’s True: A look at the underlying problems that adversely affect African Americans (Part 2)

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In my introduction I said that that as a culture we’ve been working on the symptoms of the problems in our community and not addressing the underlying problems of our community.  Underlying problems are problems that give birth to other problems.  I brought out the fact that our efforts to diminish the ills that plague us are minimal at best because we are not addressing the real issues.  This blog identifies what I feel is the number one problem underlying problem and where we must start as a people if we are to see real change in our culture and communities. 

Problem #1

This first problem is probably the greatest hindrance to the revival and revitalization of our culture and communities. It’s also very disturbing the more I think about it.  This first problem dims my positive outlook for the future.  For other problems that I cite along the way there is no certain order except for how I present them.  However, this first problem may be the greatest hindrance to the revival and revitalization of our culture and communities.

Problem number 1 - We are unwilling to speak the truth objectively and openly discuss our real problems. This problem hinders our ability to solve all of the others.  I have heard it said that the first step in overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one.  As a culture we won’t say openly that many of our problems are caused by our own doing.  We will say that problems exist and even name some of them but we will rarely cite ourselves as the author of our own undoing.  We have nauseating reasons for our issues.  We point to racism.  We point to the covert conspiracy of America to keep African Americans down.  We point to high unemployment, lack of education and so forth.  Rarely do we say openly that we are guilty and have the biggest hand in the ills that affect us. 

Now we do own up to the underlying problems among ourselves in very small groups of friends, family members, and certain co-workers.  Often many of the people in these groups cite the real issues and have really good solutions or ideas about how to fix some of the problems we face.  However, those solutions and ideas will never see the light of day because if we implemented them, we would have to confront our own people in a way that lets other people who are not of our race know that we have real dirty laundry.  Several years ago Bill Cosby got plastered by our community for speaking directly to our dirt.  We would never allow our dirty laundry to be aired out in public.  It’s already out there but without our acknowledgement attached to it.  We would never allow others to know that we realize we are more of a problem to us than those whom we accuse. 

In addition to this we are unwilling to make the radical changes in the manner in which we operate, because making radical changes places the responsibility of where we are on us alone.  This in my opinion is the first and foremost problem.  Why do I cite our unwillingness to speak the truth objectively as the number one underlying problem?    Please allow me to explain.   Siding with another culture is an unspoken taboo among African Americans.  Doing so either ostracizes a person or label them “Uncle Toms.” As a culture we won’t publicly acknowledge what everybody else already knows. We will however stick together and continue to blame others and petition the government to do for us what needs to be done by us.  (By the way, my observations about our ills and not citing the ills of other races in no way suggest that other races do not greatly contribute to our issues.  My focus is on us.  What I am saying is hard but if you took the time to think very deeply about the many issues in our culture I believe that you will agree with me.  It is hard but it is true.) 

So how is not openly identifying our underlying problem a problem?   Imagine with me for just a moment that you went to your doctor because you’ve been sick and hurting really bad.  After the doctor examined you, he discovered that you had a really bad disease that could kill you but was curable.  Now suppose that he felt bad for having to tell you that you had such a disease?  Since he didn’t want to make you feel bad by telling you that you had this horrible disease he prescribes medicine for you that temporarily alleviates your pain but does nothing for the disease.  Now suppose your disease progressed so far that it became terminal.  How would you feel about this doctor?  You and all of your friends and family would be outraged- the doctor could have prescribed a cure for you but didn’t, because he felt that you couldn’t take the truth about your condition. 

This is where we are as a people.  Unless we are willing to confront the real truth about our condition and where we are as a people there can be no real help for us.  Our continued degradation and decline will be inevitable.  Just try imagining what our future may be like by looking at some of our kids today.  Many have no respect for authority.  Many are nasty, profane, and ill-mannered. Too many of them are being groomed in irresponsibility and entitlement.  They are our future. One reason good teachers are walking out of classrooms early is because our kids are becoming uncontrollable.   The dropout rate among African Americans is much too high considering the resources being spent to make our kids successful.  Come on people!  Look at where we are!   

So then how do we correct this first problem of being unwilling to cite and talk about our real problems so that we can apply good and measurable solutions?   The Bible speaks directly to this particular problem.  The Bible gives us a great guideline for change and we ought to use it!  Look at how it addresses this problem.  Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  1 John 1:9states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  The point is simple and we have biblical principles from which to work.  

One reason that I believe that we refrain from identifying the real problems in our culture is because some of the solutions takes us down paths that are controversial (not for me) and frowned upon by the masses.  We are not trying to simply hide our dirty laundry from white people.  We are trying extremely hard to get things right apart from using the principles that Jesus gives us in the bible.  Many of the underlying problems in our culture are violations of biblical principles that as a culture we “say” we value.  We have to put back in place principles that guide us on how to fix our underlying problems.  As a people we don’t want to go down that road because the solutions may seem offensive.  We are exactly like the doctor who does not want to make the patient feel bad so he does not tell the patient what he or she really needs to know.  Our doctor Jesus, the One who can fix all things has said that this is our number one problem

So then what is the solution to this particular problem?

Solution number 1 – Work from biblical principles.  Financial, Politically correct, and social ideas are at best a band aid approach that only contributes to the deterioration of our culture. Here are a few principles that we can cling to in working out our problems.

Principle #1 - If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”  2 Chronicles 7:14-15

Principle #2 - “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9  

For each problem that I cite there is a biblical principle that can serve as a foundation from which to work.

Solution #2 - We “MUST STATE” the problems of our culture THAT ARE OUR OWN DOING.  We need objective people from all walks of life who are willing to not only cite the underlying problems but to admit to them. I believe that in the areas of family, morality, personal responsibility, and principles for living, good pastors and churches should take the lead because we have a standard given us by God that has stood the test of time and is found to be exceedingly excellent and true.  I believe that the church should bring people together for real dialogue and a commitment to excellence and local change without regard for personal gain and public scrutiny.  We need excellence in our culture. 

I also believe that God has given His church the mission and mandate to operate such a monumental revival as this.  Not only do we have the mission and the mandate but we also have the obligation of love for each other and a command from God to work together for the good of our communities.  This is an opportunity for our brothers and sisters from all races to work together in love.  The bible teaches that when one member suffers we all suffer with it.  I see an awesome opportunity for the healing, growth, and welfare of a culture, community, an education system, a city, and maybe even a whole nation. 

So as we identify the real underlying problems we will no doubt see that God has set forth solutions for many of them in his word.  There are principles given us by God that we can apply to our community even if the masses don’t know Jesus. 

Overcoming our biggest problem is the real problem.  The solution is there. We have to implement it. In my next blog I will begin looking at specific problems that are detrimental to our community.

What do you think?

Reverend Lawrence Robinson