A sense of futility can disarm an opponent. The appearance of zero options can invite a mental capitulation, a unconscious, unrealized surrender. The perception of the irresistible advantage and omnipotent inevitability of another can produce predictable attitudes and behaviors.
Black America has largely fallen victim to futility, even if we have not allowed our conscious minds to acknowledge the facts.
The legal victories of the civil rights movement, unsuccessfully defended, are failing us. We have witnessed the demolition of the Voting Rights Act, the widening of the black wage gap with whites and three decades of mass incarceration. Our political victories as black Mayors, Police Chiefs, Members of Congress and even a two term President ring hollow since the cities are dangerous and unhealthy, and we are routinely murdered by the police without justice. Even our religion appears to have forsaken us.
Jeremiah 8:19b–20 (KJV 1900)
19 Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? 20 The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From “Winter in America”Gil Scott Heron- [1949–2011]
As a consequence, some of us have withdrawn, ok, quite a few of us have withdrawn into a place I call Playland. We are absorbed by our pleasures, by distractions, by anything that will take our eyes, our minds off of what is happening to us. It is not as simple as seeking diversions alone, but it is seeking substitutes for the security and meaning that all people need to the exclusion of the issues of long term survival. In Playland, one lives as if there is no problem, it’s not there, we just don’t think about it.
In taking our minds off of what has and is continuing to happen to us, we have left the hard thinking to a tiny fraction of courageous individuals. The rest of us are working to live, but to live that life in Playland.
The Attractions of Playland
Under futility, there is no hope. Therefore we are tempted to turn off our moral regulator that makes us feel guilty that we are no longer a part of the struggle. In Playland, moral judgment is suspended, we are free to create our own morality. Our philosophies cannot be challenged because there are no longer any facts: whatever one feels strongly about are facts for him. In Playland, individualism is the greatest good: marriage, the family, community, God all exist for me and for my benefit. Their value is found only in how they contribute to my happiness and well-being.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 (KJV 1900)
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
In Playland I am free to abandon my spouse, my children, my belief in the bible [I have replaced it with my opinions about the bible], my identification with my people, even my gender, in the interest of a frantic search for fulfillment and meaning. In Playland, I am unable to perceive that I am the prodigal son, scrounging in the pigpen for the few remaining morsels of personhood that I am allowed before the end comes upon my people and even Playland is gone. I then begin to realize that Playland has cost me more than oppression has, because the real world produced a reflex to fight, even under oppression. Successive generations of black folk with far fewer resources used their brains and their brawn and their faith to overcome oppression. They fought against the greatest of odds and largely succeeded, not for themselves but for us. It is precisely this reflex that is lost in Playland and this also was planned and predicted.
Earlier generations of black people would have told us that we have no right to quit. They would of told us to quit Playland and to pick up the old weapons biblical faith, which will lead to reality orientation, strategic thinking and manly action.
Judges 6:12–14 (KJV 1900)
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
A Biblical Faith Leads to Reality Orientation
Playland has a large entrance door but no apparent exit. The exit exists but we cannot perceive it. This is because our perception of what is real is now controlled by others. To enter this new world of Playland we had to depart from the old one where the authority of the Scriptures [the Word of God, the Bible] resides. Many are not aware of it, but it is God’s gracious provision of Scripture that provides all of us with the true key to reality [Romans 1.19–20]. Since God created the world and not Darwin, its principles and laws: physical and spiritual, are His creation as well. Even our own logic, when functioning properly, is a gift from God. Man became a living soul by means of the breath of God. We cannot profitably depart from His authority for long. The individual returning from Playland must be reoriented to reality by looking at life through the lens of Scripture, not his opinions about the bible, but sound teaching [Titus 1.9–11] by sound men of God. [Don’t worry, it is God’s responsibility to equip such men and to lead you to them.]
When we are reoriented to reality, we are immediately presented with the Crisis that was our reason for entering Playland in the first place. The number and the scale of the problems specifically directed at Black America are staggering. If we take the time to inquire, we will see that the majority of these problems have been engineered and implemented for the specific purpose of weakening Black citizenship and threatening Black life. That same sense of futility begins to set in once again, but reality not only enables us to see the problems, it also sheds light upon possible solutions. There is hope after all.
I have said in the title that we are the next to last generation of free Black Americans. I say this because the combined effect of the simultaneous collapse of the major institutions of our community [marriage, family, government, church] is occurring at the same time as the emergence of a national political movement committed to the rapid marginalization of all people of color. Unless we are able to mount a defense, these forces: legal, economic, political, spiritual and even medical, will combine to produce a new kind of slavery for Black America.
Reality #1: The Tactical Objective of Our Struggle is the Rescue of the Black Family
The effort to marginalize Black people began in earnest once slavery was abolished. Generation after generation, the techniques to prevent Blacks from enjoying full participation in American prosperity and citizenship have been modified and perfected. Fortunately, many honest and well-meaning Whites have fought with Blacks against these encroachments. Throughout this battle, the Black family has been the central target of destabilization. The family is the primary institution upon which God builds civilization. There is no civilization without the family passing on human capital: values, aptitudes, attitudes and skills to the next generation. Reality-oriented Black people know this and realize that our next defense must begin with the family.
Reality #2: All Warfare is First Spiritual
The legal and economic actions against the Black family could not have succeeded without the successful planning and implementation of a spiritual strategy that undermined the doctrinal framework of the Black church, leading inevitably to reality distortion for the rest of us. Doctrine is the accurate system of beliefs drawn from the entire bible. Doctrinal thinking is biblical thinking: accurate thinking regarding the world, yourself and God.
The war that appears on the surface as systematic oppression is the outward manifestation of a constant spiritual warfare. Everything else [legal, economic, political] is a symptom of this war; Black people appear to have forgotten that. This forgetfulness itself was made possible through doctrinal warfare. For example, the spread of the Social Gospel: the idea that it was society and not man that needed saving, led to the loss of the emphasis of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and the debilitating curse of ecumenism in the Black church. Also there was the Charismatic Doctrine, which is based on the idea that the Holy Spirit deputizes men and women to contradict and reinterpret the scriptures. Once man became free to change the meaning of the bible, all doctrines became fair game and like Samson, pastors were blinded and became sport for the Philistines. What is the Charismatic Movement but a religious retreat into Playland? If not for the Charismatic Movement there would be no Word of Faith Movement, which has to be the Disneyland of American Religion.
A Word to Pastors
In order to restore the Black family, we will need a Black church that directly applies the truths of the bible to all aspects of the Black condition in America, including the impacts of oppression. We do not need liberation theology or charismatic positive confession, but an accurate interpretation of the scriptures applied to the real impact of racism and racist structures upon our minds and our souls. There is a difference between the implementation of social and political programs through the church and actually engaging in the undoing of the spiritual damage caused not only by racism but the false spiritual paradigms that have been provided us to keep us from true spiritual solutions. There is a reason that the current crisis in Black America is occurring at the very time when the Charismatic Movement is claiming that we are in the midst of a “Holy Ghost Revival.”
Men and women are transformed by the direct application of the teaching of scripture to the specific problems they are encountering that prevent the advance to holiness and fruitful ministry. The primary purpose of the agenda against Black people is the prevention of this spiritual advance, as spiritual advance is the most direct route to freedom from oppression. The bible speaks to the need of the complete person. The bible was written by a people who were constantly in danger and oppressed, the biblical Israelites.
It is not by accident that at the height of our parents and grandparents victory over oppression, we began to forsake our doctrinal moorings to adopt social gospel and charismatic concepts. We need to return to the old paths and we must directly name the forces that have undermined marriages and families, then build them up by sound teaching and training in the local church. No pastor or teacher will receive a crown for church growth or for how electrifying they were in the pulpit. [The growth of the local church to which God sends a called man is a Divine responsibility, not that of the pastor/elder] There will be recognition for presenting every person as complete in Christ [Colossians 1.27–28]. In fairness, some pastors have attempted to do these things mentioned above, but there is a constant pressure to grow the church in terms of attendance and the correct kind of teaching and preaching does not usually grow churches rapidly.
Until we find the old paths of sound biblical interpretation, repentance towards God and obedience to accurate teaching, we will lack the basic requirements necessary to defeat oppression: we will lack divine perspective [reality orientation] and divine power [divine support], God will not be on our side, because we won’t be on His.
A Biblical Faith Plus Reality Orientation Leads to Strategic Thinking
Reality orientation enables strategic thinking. Not only have we largely stopped fighting, those remaining in the battle have become confused regarding what objective needs to be taken. Our leaders are routinely killed or run off in some fashion. We have not been able to look to the church for reasons already mentioned. Strategic thinking, based upon biblical truth will eventually show us that we cannot start out with economics or politics if we want to build a strong Black nation. Nationbuilding, once we have regained right relations with God, must start with the family. It is the Black family that systematic racism has overturned and then ran a perpetual Madison Avenue advertising campaign to convince you and the world that it was your fault. Yes, we stepped into the trap, but we didn’t set the trap.
There will be no victory for Black America until a sizable portion of our families are producing responsible, emotionally grounded and educated children. When I say “educated” I mean educated to their gifts and aptitudes and educated as to who they are as Black people and what must be done to survive and to thrive here in America. There will be no development of the family until we make up our minds to make our marriages work, to take permanent leave of Playland and take up our rightful responsibilities for our spouses and if that is not possible, definitely for our children.
Our Greatest Human Asset
The greatest asset of Black America, aside from Jesus Christ, is the next generation of children, specifically, those 0–5 years old today. They will be the last generation of free Black Americans unless we get them prepared for the difficult challenges ahead. David could not build the Temple in Israel, so he prepared Solomon, the next generation, by training him and by providing the materials needed ahead of time to build. If we fail to prepare this generation, the manifold facets of a new order of slavery, now in motion, will rob us of everything except bad choices. It is possible that we are the next to the last generation of free Black Americans.
Manly Action Accepts the Facts and the Consequences
To illustrate that manly action is not limited to men, I will use as an illustration the woman Esther:
Esther 4:13–14 (KJV 1900)
13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Strategic thinking will lead to manly action in directing the majority of our remaining national resources to the preparation of this coming generation. Men will repent and take responsibility, by any means necessary, for their families and children. Women will work together with the fathers of their children. Pastors will restructure how their churches do ministry to mobilize for this biblically-based battle in the spiritual warfare for our families. Teachers will change their educational paradigms. Politicians [realizing that they will not escape in the king’s house] will change their legislative strategies and their alliances.
Black America must not only repudiate Playland, but we must mount an all-out wartime effort to properly prepare this coming generation [spiritually, educationally and strategically-they must be aware of the situation and the stakes involved] for their place in the world as Black adults who will seek the survival of their mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and children. You will be told that this is racialism or a new Black liberation movement, but it is not. This old tactic is the wolf telling the sheep that to seek the welfare of sheep is an evil. To avoid continuing to be someone’s dinner is only an evil to the predator.
This is manly action: to repent before God and reestablish cordial relations with Him. To rebuild your marriage [if possible] and your family [definitely possible]. To recommit ourselves and our resources to the coming generation, so that they will be equipped to fight, with God’s help, what looks to be the last stand for Black America.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl