Sunday, September 12, 2010

Black Women, The Black Church & The Black Community

Within ethnic and urban communities, the atmosphere of crime and violence has caused many to question and reevaluate the condition of the family and the church. Within the black community in particular there has been recent special attention and focus upon the disparity that exists in the statistical makeup of the modern black family as opposed to it's white or non-ethnic counterpart.

The general assertion of most modern approaches is that crime and violence is escalating and has escalated because of the absence of black men within the community. There are many social pressures that has feed into this understanding. For example, statistics say that black men are still 6.35 times more likely to be in prison than their white counterparts(1) but have improved since claiming that there were more black men in jail than in college(2, 3). In addition, there is yet employment and economic disparity between Black males and their White male counterparts.

The modern black church in America (churches that have traditionally served the needs of the African-American community, individual and family, even through the "Jim Crow" era) consists predominately of women. Not surprisingly, due to multiple social realities, this is also a reflection of the cultural and social makeup of many modern urban and ethnic communities. Because of this, many claim that the absence of the black male has contributed to and even been the cause of the disparity that is being witnessed and moral and social decay that we have both observed and experienced at street level.

Black Women Aren't The Problem

Is there another more elusive and ominous problem that has occurred and been revealed within Black America, or is what we are witnessing simply an anomaly?

I pose that the problems facing the Black community and family are problems that have more to do with moral strength and substance emanating from the church, than it has to do with the consistency or makeup of the family, who lives in the neighborhood, or the absence of any particular family member. 

Pictured: Latricia Ryan of Flint, MI and 9 of her 10 children in 2008.
Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that strong, healthy families, with an active and present father, can be the strength of the community and the church, but beyond absent individuals, there are right moral choices, decisions and a God who can more than make up for any deficit that anyone has.

Grandparents and foster-parents are raising successful children. Single men and women are doing the same. Certainly, I believe God's intention is for a family to be a family consisting of many parts and each part in it's place, however families have been raised successfully before by single woman and will continue to be successfully done in the future. What is the church making of its opportunity to reach and teach this generation and how is the church supporting the community? Are we bringing our young black mothers and fathers to right and morally correct decisions, or are we serving our own needs with an each for himself mentality? In other words, a body occupying a position or place WILL NOT stop some of the ridiculous decision making that we are seeing and have seen from many of our ethnic and Black communities.

There are some fathers that are in the home which are functional alcoholics or addicts, that do not contribute to the moral growth or benefit of the family. Simply occupying a position won't cut the muster, male or female. However, being what God has called one to be will satisfy all needs and create resounding strength.
Today's Black Woman

In the Sept. 2010 issue of Essence Magazine "The Black Women's Agenda" Henry Bass laid down some interesting statistics:

  • In 1970 62.4% of Black children were born to married parents, whereas currently 28.4% of Black children are born to married parents. (pg. 220)

  • 55% of black children ultimately live with only one parent

  • Poverty rates for single Black Women remain at 49.4% (2007)

  • Center For Community Economic Development reported that single black women have a median wealth of $100 and nearly half of all single black women have a zero or negative wealth (pg.222)

  • Nearly 22% of black men who married in 2008 married a woman who wasn't Black
If one were to stop there, it would seem that the picture is dismal, but Black women have done what they always have done and continue to do...thrive under adverse situations...

  • 4.6% of Black Women received a Bachelor's Degree or higher in 1970, whereas 20.4% of Black Women have a Bachelor's Degree currently (representing a 8% rise over 20 years)

  • 96,968 Black women earned Bachelor degrees in 2006-07 which was double the number earned by Black men during the same time period; Black women earned 44,667 master's degrees whereas Black men earned 17,907 in total accounting for 71% of all master's degrees earned by African-Americans.(pg 221)

  • In 2009 82.8% of all African-Americans over 18 held a high school diploma. (US Dept. Of Education)

  • The median income for Black women in 1970 was $10,208, whereas 2008 statistics report that median income at $20,197 (pg. 222)

  • Life expectancy for Black women in 1970 was 68.3 years, whereas it is currently 77 years.

  • In 1998 only 23% of African-Americans had internet access, currently 46.4 % of African-Americans have internet access and Black women pay in excess of $10.4 Million on smart phone purchases annually.
There has been progress and advancement for many who have taken advantage of the opportunities over the years, but is there something of a more lasting value that has been traded in exchange for the progress that we have seen?

Tradition, History & Values Transfer

Psalms 11:3 ~ "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

With all of the statistics measured and recorded, and with the multiple problems that we know exist, what is often missed is the spiritual condition of the community. The church that has traditionally served the needs of the black woman has been absurdly absent and non-existent in building up the community through biblical exposition and values transfer. The church has expanded, moved out of the community, continued it's programs and anniversaries, but has it built up the community and families that it serves? Does the church bring about new morality and decision making skills? 

To understand and fully appreciate this, one must know that the Black church has always and traditionally been the center of African-American morality partially because of history and tradition. I wrote regarding this in this previous POST. My contention is that in order to learn why the church was such a powerful influence within the African-American community one must examine ANE customs and traditions of learning and African learning and educational systems which subsequently followed original Africans from the shores of Africa from which they were primarily taken during slave trade. Although, African-Americans can learn by any mode and method, the method and mode of community and elder centered oral tradition and history has played an essential role in the development of African-American community and has been overlooked, and even in many cases trivialized by the Caucasian community, especially the biblically critical Caucasian community as an unreliable process and method by which history is developed. The critic's opposition, is rooted in the fact that 1st Century Israel was a culture steeped in strong oral tradition, history and community building as a result. The critic often asserts that this method was given to embellishment and was unreliable, however the contrary was true. To impose such an idea is simply historical revisionism using modern standards as a rule of thumb for traditional and historical motifs, however the evidence does not favor the critic in certain instances, when examination is made.

Cultures with strong oral history, tradition and elder centered relationships (where elders were responsible for teaching events, reciting community histories, and teaching values lessons) were often strong communities with a clear and unembellished history. In other words the community sought to preserve cultures accurately and faithfullly rather than allow them to be tained with myth and fairytale which would also devalue the culture and community. Dr. Richard Bauckham in his work "Jesus And The Eyewitnesses" expounds on one of the biblical evidences for this type of history transfer within the Pauline epistles especially 1 Corinthians:
"We have unequivocal evidence, in Paul's letters, that the early Christian movement did practice the formal transmission of tradition. By "formal" here I mean that there were specific practices employed to ensure that tradition was faithfully handed on from a qualified traditioner to others. The evidence is found in Paul's use of the technical terms for handing on a tradition (paradidomi, 1 Cor. 11: 2, 23, corresponding to Hebrew masar) and receiving a tradition (paralambano, 1 Cor. 15:1, 3; Gal. 1:9; Col. 2:6; Thess. 2:13; 4:1;  1 Thess. 3:6, corresponding to Hebrew qibbel) These Greek words were used for formal transmission of tradition in the Hellenistic schools and so would have been familiar in this sense to Paul's Gentile readers."(4)  
Dr. Bauckham points out the fact that within ANE cultures, oral tradition and history was valued. African Americans have traditionally learned spiritual and social values through and by oral tradition and history from those who have credible elder leadership within the community based on many of the ANE models that survived over the years. However, what our community has experienced is that even if the person transferring the values was a woman, their word and example was equally valued and enjoyed. Strong Black women have produced and raised many of the success stories that we see in our communities today. Not all have that experience but many do.

The biblical culture of learning is rooted within these facts. Teaching, learning and the instruction of the community was primarily done by elders and leaders within the community. Although the black man has struggled and has faced many obstacles, some of his own doing, the fact is that values transfer begins from the aged filtering down to the youth.

If we are seeing a problem within our communities, we should ask, what is being taught and who is doing the teaching? When we allow government and social entities to do the teaching and establish values through either courts, mass schooling or by other means, there will inevitably be a problem. Social entities are not designed to deal with issues of heart from which moral values and decisions occur. I believe that what we are facing within the Black community, is a lack of godly, biblically centered value sets rooted and grounded in the Lordship of Jesus and clear biblical exposition. The church has become a "profit center" rather than a place where the prophetic occurs.

Some think this is a serious oversimplification of the problem, saying that we have been preaching for years and look how bad things have become...The solution to the problem is beyond preaching as in telling a story, it is in living, lifestyle and the power of God flowing through the life of the individual...the word coming off the page and through the lives of the believer...this is the breakdown. Quoting scriptures and telling the story has little to do with the condition of our communities, living the story does. What I get at is this:, Black women have traditionally been strong and have held up the community, raising and nurturing many successful black men and women preachers and teachers that we know today. No mater the disadvantages they have suffered individually and collectively, there yet remains nothing and noone like a strong-Black-Woman! The problems of the African-American community cannot be summarily laid at their feet as if they are somehow failures in their efforts to maintain, family, church and community.

When we have children raising children and those who have rejected God, biblical morality and objective and enduring standards of righteousness and morality, what product do we expect to find? When we have churches who wholesale celebrate unrighteousness through secularism and ungodliness, and materialistic preachers, what is the result that we expect to see? When we have ministries that would rather see their pastor or leader looking good rather than living godly, what do we think the community will become? When we (the church) celebrates at the altar of self, sexual perversion, ungodly relationships, homosexuality, lesbianism and Jezebelian type of self worship, what do we expect as a result?

Can A Woman Raise A Man?

This is something that the modern thinkers often ponder as if it is some anomaly of thought. Women have raised men until now, why should we think differently? Women have raised Presidents, doctors, lawyers, community and civic leaders, churchmen and all kinds of individuals who contribute rightly to society everyday. However, women, as well as men have also raised drug-lords, abusers, ungodly and all kinds of perverted individuals. What is the key? When God is God, any individual can raise another in HIS fear and admonition. God can be what is necessary for a successful family and community, but often God is considered a less essential part of everything and this generation is one of the weakest in understanding that without Christ, WE can truly do nothing.

The fact is that good women are raising boys that are becoming successful men. The problem is when the children are not raised and are left to raise themselves and are not raised with godly and biblically centered values and value systems. Children will create their own morality and find their own brand of love when they are left to themselves. It is the call of the church to speak to these issues, causing our families, no matter whom they consist of, to be strengthened. The church must be in a place where it can challenge the decision making skills of those who are privy to its message. If what is said is of God, not only will they listen, they will also grow and be blessed as a result.

"One In Christ Jesus"

Some may be offended by this post as I am pointing out differences between male and female and black and white. Some think that to point out such is a mark of ungodliness and is not loving. Yes, we are ONE in Christ, and further we share the identification of the cross, but we are yet "nations", different tongues and a multitude of people that will stand before HIM each individual and unique.

Revelation 7:9 ~"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"

From a biblical standpoint, we are not simply stripped of identity, that identity is perfected in Christ, The critic asserts that there are no more color or social distinctions in Christ Jesus, however there is yet a distinction of colors, roles, genders and consequently learning styles and that we possess with or without our choice. What we must understand is that neither color nor gender are guarantees of relationship with Christ, neither do they prohibit relationship with HIM either.

Conclusion:

The point of this post has been to inform and encourage the efforts of Godly Black women and those women who have stood in the heat of the day and continue to stand in the face of  seeming insurmountable obstacles. also to challenge the church to better serve the segment of individuals that has kept it afloat for so long.

If our communities are in trouble, which I agree that they are, it is due to a lack of diligence on church's behalf in rolling up its sleeves and getting in the muck and mire where ungodliness is occurring and primarily dealing with it's own allegiances and motivations. When the church rises within it's God given commission, we will see decision making at all levels change and improve. How? Because the true church will begin to reach the heart. We will see men stop objectifying their women sexually and women fulfilled and not making decisions based on loneliness and a lack of purpose and place.

A godly women is  a valuable asset to the community and one who cannot be readily replaced. I encourage every women who has dedicated their life to Christ, to go to and grab that sistah, and mother whom you know is struggling, and make it your business to share the love of Christ with her as she raises her children and makes her way in this world. It is only through your intervention that she will have the courage to raise her children in the fear of the Lord and embark on the cause that Christ has called her to. With your efforts of continuing to preach and minister the gospel from house to house and family to family, we can save our young men and women and change these streets!

Philippians 4:13 ~"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Blessed!

References:

(1) Justice Policy Institute DOJ Report On Prisoners 2008
(2) Justice Policy Institute Study 8/2002
(3) "...In 2005, according to the Census Bureau, there were 864,000 black men in college. According to Justice Department statistics, there were 802,000 in federal and state prisons and jails, "even with the old heads holding on," Morton says." ~" A Filmmaker's Attempt To Peel Off the Labels 'What Black Men Think' Tackles Stereotypes By DeNeen L. Brown The Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, August 4, 2007.
(4) R. Bauckham "Jesus And The Eyewitnesses" 2006 Eerdmans (pg. 264)

3 comments:

  1. There's another alarming statistic regarding black women from ages 14 to 49:

    About 48% of them have Herpes. Now that's alarming!

    Look, they contract it from someone, now don't they? Think about that one for a minute...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah the black family structure would be stronger with the father + mother
    Children have a better chance at be raised under father + mother . I cringe a lot from reading this blog .
    I do enjoy your debates on debunkingchristianity
    Do you touch bibical accounts of Noah flood , high ages of bibical personage , contradictions , lack of archeological evidence ( bodies ) , slavery , African Americans being force to be Christians ...?
    Not sure if your still evening active here I'm now finding this blog. Do you have a Facebook group etc ?
    Appreciate it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said" Children have a better chance at be raised under father + mother . I cringe a lot from reading this blog.

      I so I suppose you think that the family is "stronger" where there is a breakdown of it's structure? talk about "cringe"...So is that the exception or the rule?

      You said: I do enjoy your debates on debunkingchristianity

      Yea, if you're an atheist, you probably don't enjoy the fact that I point out clearly and intently that you're out of your mind-LOL...Especially if you believe any of the garbage that John touts... But from the questions you sound like a Debunking faithful materialist newby...alas another to to correct along a very confused highway over there I see...

      Materialism is such a weak proposition that defies the very "evidence" that it says it clings to. For example, Materialism says that "natural selection" is responsible for evolutionary processes, but fails to deliver how the process begins without any information necessary for the process. in order words according to the materialist, natural selection is a self-starting process,which creates its own information. At least that is consistent, because they believe teh same of the universe. A self starting principle and a "degree" of nothing which due to that really isn't nothing???

      So which is it materialist? Is nothing actually something, or is it really nothing? If it is nothing where does any information come from? Then how do rocks develop morality over an infinite amount of time?

      The arguments of materialism (which I have oversimplified here) are almost to irrational to really give credence to...but alas I digress...

      And here our Facebook, In Defense Of The Faith, i certainly do invite you to ascribe to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/207127842725068/

      Delete

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