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RELIGION

What’s Up Doc?

Recently, I completed a doctoral degree focusing on Urban Social Impact At Virginia University of Lynchburg, an HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities). Why? Because more than ever before, the church needs ministers who are spiritually grounded, intellectually prepared, culturally aware, and emotionally impassioned to lead a movement to save our endangered communities. Certainly, we should welcome the earnest support from those outside our communities. Ultimately, I advocate that we are all God’s children and our destinies are bound together. However, Blacks should still take responsibility to lead the way to rescuing and repositioning the Black community at large. For me, this means that the church must be challenged. We must challenge our politicians. And we must also hold Black professionals accountable. If you’re not in the fight for our communities, you are in the fight against our communities. Our predicament perilous to ignore. Consider the following.

Income Gap

To make the point, observe this quote published by Forbes Business.

“According to Pew Research analysis of Current Population Survey, found that “racial gaps in income and earnings, with white households earning more than their black counterparts remained largely constant or even widened between 1967-2015.” (September 26, 2017, Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, pnas.org) Back in 1979, white Americans earned an average hourly real wage of $19.62 compared to $16.07 for blacks, making for an 18.1 percent wage gap. While the gap narrowed in the late 1990s, it began to expand again in 2000. According to new research by the Economic Policy Institute, in 2015, the racial wage gap stood at 26.7 percent, with whites taking home an hourly real wage of $25.22 on average, compared to $18.49 for blacks. The gap is especially wide for young black women. These realities fly beneath the radar screen of most Americans. Most people are oblivious. Others who are aware, are not prone to doing anything to address them. Most expert studies prove that discrimination is still largely to blame for these disparities. Question. Have you heard any sermons about this in your church? Does your church support a Black business chamber, the NAACP, or any entity that advocates for and elevates black life and economics? Is your pastor an advocate for your financial freedom by supporting efforts to enforce anti-discrimination laws in the workplace? Clearly, I’m not against preachers who prosper. But if they are content to see their people in poverty, while they prosper, that’s when there’s a real problem.

The Wealth Gap

Please review this statement published by the New York Times. “Black families in America earn just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.” (New York Times, September 18, 2017, The Upshot, by Emily Badger, nytimes.com). Do you know what this formula means? It means that Blacks are presently incapable of leaving any semblance of inherited wealth for next generations. Actually, each new generation begins behind, and in debt!

The Home Ownership Gap

These facts are quite revealing of the continuing disparity between white and black Home Ownership. According to Zillow Research, “In 1900, 48.1 percent of whites in the United States owned homes, while only 20.5 percent of blacks did – for a homeownership gap of 27.6 percentage points.” (April 10, 2018, Zillow Research, by Skylar Olsen,zillow.com). This is important for many reasons. One is, home Ownership is the fundamental ingredient for building long term family stability. Secondly, it is the foundational building block for wealth empowerment. I teach people to understand this way. Full citizenship without land ownership is a myth. Land owners have the powerful voices in their communities.

The Education Gap

Since 2014, kids of color have made up the majority of students in K-12, in America’s public schools. Based on the obvious direction of demographic trends, this will become the prevailing reality. Soon, kids of color will become the majority of America’s graduating classes. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that by 2025, whites will only represent 46% of students in public schools. In fact, a majority of kids 5 years in America are already kids of color.

Consider this fact published by a credible information source. “While 87 percent of white students, for instance, graduate from high school on time, that number falls to 76 percent for Hispanics, and 73 percent among African Americans. And although white, African American and Hispanic students are now about equally likely to start college immediately after completing high school, black and brown students remain much less likely to complete a BA within six years. That disparity hints at the large enduring difference in the quality of the K-12 preparation many minority students are receiving.” (The Atlantic, The Challenge Of Educational Disparity, May 19, 2016, atlantic.com). The fact that here in Houston we watched North Forest ISD collapse. And presently, 10 Houston ISD schools are positioned to either be closed are taken over by the state, due to years of school failure rates. Even the most valiant efforts of present school administrators have not been sufficient to overcome the decades long deterioration. There is the cumulative toll of decades of underfunding, human resource neglect, what I call the side effects of generational poverty, coupled with the sinister schemes by some, to dismantle Black communities and to take over the rich real estate on which these schools are located. All this means, our schools are under attack and our children are innocent victims. Who is fighting for them?

Incarceration Gap

This nation incarcerates 700 per 100,000 citizens. The highest rate among all developed nations. South Africa’s rate is 300 and Canada’s rate is 100 per 100,000. American mass incarceration is a policy driven, profit motivated evil that wrecks families, and destroys communities. For every 100,000, 2,700 black men are incarcerated. “According to Pew Research, “At the end of 2016, federal and state prisons in the United States held about 486,900 inmates who were black and 439,800 who were white.” For the same period, there were 100,500 more white inmates than Hispanic inmates (439,800 vs. 339,300), down from an inmate difference of 148,800 in 2009 (490,000 white inmates vs. 341,200 Hispanic inmates).” Remember, blacks make up only 13% of the population, Hispanic/Latinos are 17.8%, compared to 77% white (which includes white Hispanics). Clearly, this nation imposes and supports policies that create conditions among Blacks, Hispanics and the poor, that breed high levels of criminality. This is why Michelle Alexander calls this system “The New Jim Crow.”

These are reasons why the mandate for Black church leadership to provide leadership that matters is imperative. It is why church goers must insist that their churches are “Battleships that empower, rather than Cruise ships that entertain.” By the way, is your about collecting dollars or making a difference?”

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