Black History Month
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on our way,
Thou who hast by Thy might led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places our God where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world we forget Thee…
List ten virtues inveterately associated with the Negro during the struggles of the Civil Rights Era that today’s teenagers seem to lack. Now, speculate why their lives are bereft of such virtue. Do not the lyrics to the Negro National Anthem above already answer that question? Most people in my coterie are well-aware of my flippant belief that African Americans are a cursed People: yet, not so via Ham in the Bible [Genesis 9] or via bacon in the supermarket. Albeit many of us should restrict our consumption of both pork and spandex, my hypothesis is that my People are cursed via the extent to which we tenaciously embrace our ignorance at the expense of our intelligence! Willie Lynch sends us a “Thank You” card every year from his grave! Why? Ignorance circumvents any individual’s capacity to make well-informed choices, thus resulting in behaviors that are deleterious to self-actualization and success. Capish? We are not a monolith; and some of us, like Frederick Douglas, Charles Drew, Paul Robeson, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Molefi Kete Asante, and the legendary Bill Cosby are quintessentially intelligent men who honor our race! Yet, as “The Coz” already has pontificated, far too many teenagers today are addicted to sports and entertainment, at the expense of their intellect! Burning books, as described in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, would be superfluous, would it not? For example, three generations after Thurgood Marshall’s efficacious legal argument before the Supreme Court, our children now attend integrated public schools. Yet, as is evidenced by their standardized test scores, many of them lack the cognitive wherewithal necessary to read at grade level or otherwise to excel in the classroom. Were one to test the veracity of my hypothesis via listing ten of today’s most prominent and successful black athletes, actors, attorneys, politicians, Pentagon officials, pharmacists, physicians, pastors, college presidents, professors, high school principals, or PE coaches, etc., who among them still pontificates and practices obeying the God of our silent tears? I rest my case. Rather than blaming “the white man”, VICE’s textbook analyzes and explores how honoring God’s commandments [www.victoryNchrist.net] can protect any People from making needless miscalculations and reap the fruits of virtuous living. For example, I am among the last generation of African American students that attended all black schools in the South prior to Jim Crow’s funeral and mandatory desegregation. I still remember the perennial “hand me down” books with pages either missing or with the “N” word emblazoned across them, as if to remind the Negro of his inferior – not separate but equal — public education. Yet, my mother and father were among a legion of black educators who demanded intellectual excellence from their best students. Despite racially motivated disparities in the allocation of resources, their expectation was that bright “colored” students could, should, and would excel in History, Chemistry, Latin, Physics, Literature, Debate, etc., and they did! Of course, the rod of discipline, the Bible, and the presence of Almighty God were welcome in those schools. Today, however, “In God We Trust” has become a mere creed on the money upon which it is printed. Father, forgive us for we know not that what we do is a curse upon our Nation!
Earlier today, a Jamaican brother and I bemoaned how immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic often perform better on standardized exams than “boyz in da hood“, despite English being a foreign language. Ironically, many of these obtuse children born and reared in the United States consider intellectual excellence to be “acting white”. In the land of opportunity, is erudition white, black, gray, or the color of water? What does such an untoward self–concept imply about these students’ expectations of the educational process? In an Information Age of limitless websites, software applications, and on line courses, etc., do we not realize that competent reading comprehension is a sine qua non for the eradication of the insecurity, illiteracy, ignorance, and the ineptitude inveterately associated with our race during slavery? Has not the comportment of our Talented Tenth from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Dominica, Brazil, and throughout the Diaspora always reflected a dignity that is antithetical to such vices? Thus, why do so many African American parents allow children to spend more time in pursuit of entertainment rather than enlightenment during their precious and irretrievable formative years? Perhaps, many of us became parents prior to our possessing the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual je ne sais quoi necessary to teach our offspring how to honor God and to excel in the classroom. As the Bible affirms, the people perish for a lack of knowledge! We can’t fix it IF we can’t face it. “So, what is we gonna do?” IF and only if you yearn to be free from slavery to your insecurity and especially to your infidelity to God, then consider joining Victory In Christ Ensemble! Whenever intelligent people distance themselves from immorality, ignorance and insecurity, is that racism or reasoning? Ergo, in addition to candid discussions of politics, religion, and sexuality for adult members of our book club, VICE proffers an intellectually and morally rigorous template for 9 – 12 year old boys. Moreover, VICE’s unique fraternity for teenagers encourages the man-child to demonstrate cognition through rhetoric as an extension of the vocabulary and reading comprehension needed to succeed on standardized tests. As fathers and as brothers, many of us still are enamored of the Million Man March. Yet, many of us returned home to “business as usual” rather than putting words of atonement into action. In response to that historic “lecture“, VICE proffers its members of any race or nationality a quintessential “lab” that unabashedly confronts counterproductive vices at the source: our minds. With well over one million convicted felons in our communities, VICE affords both men and women a second chance to lead more virtuous and productive lives via an income opportunity in our book club’s Not Guilty Program. After all, have not all of us made “moral mistakes”? Yet, what better illustration of victory in Christ can one find than Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean? College students and other members of VICE who have spent at least 90 days in a juvenile facility or in foster care also are eligible for this same $200.00 discount for Independent Agents distributing and discussing books with their customers. Inconsequential to whether your father was absent, abusive, nurturing or disengaged from your formative years, gentlemen, VICE’s workshops utilize a profoundly unique textbook [www.victoryNchrist.net] and a paradigm shift in male bonding to manumit your mind so that you can bend the spoon! Otherwise, experientially, you can’t teach Junior what you don’t know!
Some of the most intelligent and dedicated educators our race ever has known already are dead, retired, or soon will be retiring from a system that now allows our children to fall through the cracks! Ergo, I challenge African American pastors, parents, educators, fraternities, and Village Elders, etc., to create a paradigm shift in education similar to the island nations of Jamaica, Japan, et al. Unlike the United States, in these countries excellent test scores universally are more highly regarded by both parents and students than are sports. One could argue that this dichotomy parodies the educational ideologies of Dr. Du Bois versus the iconic Booker T. Washington. Hypothetically, IF every African American NFL and NBA player donated a million dollars annually to replicate another Urban Prep Academy in the city wherein his team played ball, then the implications for the empowerment of the man-child would be staggering! Yet, primary and secondary education would not be complete without teaching our children to obey God’s commandments. Our Village must embrace both morality and marriage as God defines them, lest our progeny be consumed by a reprobate mind. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [Ephesians 6:12].” Since Big Brother now prohibits praying and studying the Holy Bible in school, why haven’t our churches created Christian After School Programs to inoculate students from the spiritual wickedness [i.e., nihilism and atheism] to which they are exposed daily in public schools? Does not our history affirm that the black church and school worked in tandem a century ago to inculcate virtue rather than vice? As GOD hath commanded, even non-religious or Reformed Jews take the education and indoctrination of their children far more seriously than do many other identity groups. If we are not teaching our children the Bible, then are we “reformed” Christians or possibly not Christians at all?
Were a dentist ever to inform a patient that he has a cavity, then that patient obviously should consent to the drilling and filling that are necessary to save the tooth and to restore good oral health. Yet, some fearful or insecure patients may refuse to allow the dentist to provide those services and ultimately may lose one or more teeth as a consequence of their neglect. Similarly, we African Americans should not neglect the drilling and filling that are necessary to restore moral integrity and good intellectual health within our Village. Otherwise, we may lose yet another generation of our progeny as a consequence of our fear, insecurity and neglect. By any means necessary, we especially must require rather than request that our teenage boys handle their books equally as well as they handle a ball. As is evidenced by the Harlem Renaissance, truly educated black men and women possess the “dangerous minds” that are essential to our ever ending mental slavery. As is evidenced by their founding many historically black colleges, let us never forget the altruism of philanthropic, Northern, white brothers and sisters who believed in our education! At a time when the US government criminalized aiding and abetting the escape of slaves, a virtuous Christian coterie of White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants [WASP] had the courage to do what was Biblically correct [rather than politically correct] via the Underground Railroad. As is evidenced by their participation in the freedom rides, sit-ins, and marches, let us never forget that some Caucasians and Jews paid for our freedom with their lives! Ergo, IF we are to celebrate “Black History”, then can we do so without an acknowledgement of Stetson Kennedy, James Zwerg, and countless other non-Blacks for their support and sacrifices? IF we shall overcome someday, then is not the desuetude of our intelligence a “cavity” that we should rectify posthaste? Bien sur! IF not now, then when will we learn to take care of our own, like the Chosen People, rather than expecting Big Brother to do for us what we must do for ourselves? Rather than reparations, might a good education empower us tenfold to purchase four hundred acres and ten mules? Ergo, we can ill-afford to allow ourselves or our offspring to become drunk with the wine of the world and to forget our resplendent heritage and history on both sides of the Middle Passage. Assuredly, racism still blocks our efforts to draw water from the well of success. Yet, my obstinate challenge to the descendants of slaves on this penultimate night of Black History Month is, “Why are we punching holes in the bottoms of our own buckets?”
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