Friday, October 28, 2011

Too many Sunday Only Preachers

As I observe the police crackdown of the Occupy movements from Atlanta to New York and from Oakland to Chicago, I am troubled. Namely for two reasons the first being how inept many of us African Americans are in supporting and understanding the axiological meaning of the protest and second, how fickle, taciturn and downright ill-informed we are as African Americans and a nation as a whole. This is made even more obvious as I listen to talk show host that seem to consistently abrogate logic for the sole purpose of manifesting partisan political support. Unfortunate also is the fact that many who lead these charges offer their myopic positions on the premise of objectivity yet fail to encourage the type of fully involved intellectual discussions that were the foundations of both the platforms of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

To the first point, I am amazed. It seems as if we as a culture, albeit not monolithic, purport ourselves in a monolithic disposition. Taking the support for our current President alone and his political party, it has been estimated that regardless of affect or effect, African Americans support both at an astonishing 95 percent clip. More astonishing is that the section of our community that used to engage in the politics of what was best for the people as opposed what was best for political accomplishment is no longer in existence. Instead they have returned back to the day prior to Dr. King and are more akin to the black ministers who engaged him to stop his protest and accept the status quo as opposed to stand on the side of right, liberty and justice.

Now I know that the average African American only functions at a 6th grade math level, but what is it hard to understand about the top 1 percent controlling more than 40 percent of this nation’s wealth or that their rate of income has increased 275 percent over the past decade compared to under 30 for the rest of the nation? Why is it so difficult to understand the impact of fractional banking and the production of complex financial instruments and papers, worth nothing, that make this populous rich on the burdens of the poor and middle class? How can it not be visible that the rates of unemployment and incarceration and disease are disproportionately impactful on the poor, middle class and minority communities? I just do not get it. Even worse, how we as a segment of the population turn the other cheek, look away and dare not hold the current presidential administration to the same standard we held the prior?

We are quick to jump on Herman Cain for his inconsistencies, flip flopping and other miscues – and rightly so, but we seem to intentionally avoid acknowledging the same for Obama. I believe as Malcolm X, in 1964 while addressing a church in Cleveland when he stated:

“It was the black man's vote that put the present administration in Washington, D.C. Your vote, your dumb vote, your ignorant vote, your wasted vote put in an administration in Washington, D.C., that has seen fit to pass every kind of legislation imaginable, saving you until last, then filibustering on top of that. And you’re and my leaders have the audacity to run around clapping their hands and talk about how much progress we're making. And what a good president we have.”

Malcolm was not even speaking of our current administration but his words ring just as true today. He was speaking of our leadership and more importantly, to us to ignore facts for no purpose at all. For example I have spoken with people about my concerns with the health care bill. We talk and when I point out that premiums increase and that dental and eye care is not included, they ask where I heard that. I ask them if they read the bill and in each case they say no. How can we talk to someone who supports from only what others have told them and never even having read something for themselves? The same is true with many of the other issues proposed by Obama.

The Jobs bill for example, listening to black talk radio from Dr. Lorraine White to the Rev. Al Sharpton, it is as if they want this implemented regardless, and that it will actually do what it is said to do – create jobs. Now I am all for trying, but after reading it, it seemed to be just another $450 billion for the top 1 percent. I said the same with the first stimulus that resulted in 2.5 million lost jobs. Reading it on the surface the Jobs Bill sounds good, but when you examine it, it really on serves the wealth. For example, there is a proposal to give tax incentives to business that hire folks who have been out of work for 6 months or longer. This may sound good, but thinking as I do; there is nothing in there to stop them from hiring these folks, firing folks they already have and pocketing the loot. How many jobs would actually be created if you hire 20 and fire 20?

Then there is the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This 27-member council — made up mostly of corporate executives and academics, wants to get rid of Sarbanes-Oxley, the antifraud law passed in 2002 in response to Enron, WorldCom and the dot-com bust. Based on a recent report , almost all of this body want Congress to remove the accounting and auditing safeguards put in place to keep Enron and recent Wall street level fraud from occurring - a goal of corporate America since its establishment.

Even his recent flip-flop on his own administration’s commitment to clean air (by deciding not to raise Federal ozone standards for air pollution) when he said he would seems that the President is more a friend on big corporations more than the common man. Reminiscent of the late Ronald Reagan, who also overruled the EPA. Obama did this unilaterally against the unanimous opinion of its independent panel of scientific advisers, and directed administrator Lisa Jackson.

None of our community gate keepers, especially from the clergy ever say anything about this. Instead they continue to make excuse for practices as inconsistent as Michelle Bachmann’s or Rick Perry’s understanding of history.

In the past religion mainly in the form of our Christian churches served a purpose, but no longer. The old time religion many once asked for in song has mutated into corrupted hard drives formatted for mass marketing success in the form of profit at the expense of its congregations. Preachers nowadays have chauffer driven limousines while many of their flock subsist on MARTA tokens and catch the bus. In our past religion as well as the church were purposeful. Not only where they spiritual in essence and focus, they were also social institutions that put the community from which they originated first and foremost even before the word of God.

In the past from Fred Shuttlesworth to Martin Luther King Jr., to Adam Clayton Powell to Joseph Lowery, ministers, preachers and the pulpits they orchestrated did more than spread the divine word, they also if not more so engaged in taking part and in most cases advancing the social and political injustices confronted by African Americans regardless of demonization or social class. Their faith was on the surface first but secondary in action with respect to their incessant fight for civil rights and social injustice. Running Sunday schools was as equally (if not less) important than the bus boycotts and sit-ins they organized. They were not only preachers on Sunday but every other the day during the weeks for teaching people about their rights and local laws that empowered their congregations to reinforcing the importance of education.

Now in the political year approaching (2012) even with a presupposed African American President, our churches no longer see the utility of serving to assist in the fight against oppression, economic inequality, social injustice or exploitation exalted toward the mass majority of people of color in our nation. Where ever we are, we will be inundated with politicians begging us for our vote selling the snake oil dreams and promises that they know they will not keep. All, even Obama, will ask and send us to wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to fight for reason we do not have any connection too yet we fight with courage but don’t have the courage to fight for what is ours here at home.

The Malcolm speech I cited was called “the Ballot or the Bullet. In that speech he also stated, “, I am one who doesn't believe in deluding myself. I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate.” Continuing he said about the ballot or the bullet, “you're afraid to use an expression like that, you should get on out of the country; you should get back in the cotton patch; you should get back in the alley. They get all the Negro vote, and after they get it, the Negro gets nothing in return. All they did when they got to Washington was give a few big Negroes big jobs. Those big Negroes didn't need big jobs, they already had jobs. That's camouflage, that's trickery, that's treachery, window-dressing.”

Like him, I am neither republican nor democrat, and as such have the clearest vision of the treachery crooks of both of the political cloth demonstrate. And as for as the inaction in my community, all I can say is that we have too many “Sunday Only Preacher,” and we need a lot more of the everyday kind who are willing not only to be honest with their community, but themselves as well.

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