There have been numerous debates, conversations, lectures and essays on the status of Black America. What can be done to ensure that there is a viable and successful future for every Black American?
With the nomination and election of President Barack Obama, many Black Americans were inspired and filled with hope; not only for themselves, but for America as a whole. Perhaps this was a sign that there in deed was a change occurring in America; a change for the better; a change that would mean a fighting chance for all Americans; especially those in the Black community.
There is no doubt that there has been a significant change in the lives of Black Americans. Numerous people have aspired and strived and worked hard for their middle and upper-class status. Yet, there is still a significantly disproportionate percentage of poor [living at or below the poverty line] Black Americans.
There remains a disproportionate amount of Black communities that have yet to experience a momentous change from one generation to the next. So—what would be their answer about the future of Black America?
At The Core
Suppose that the future of Black America rests in the hands of the family. The cores of every Black American have always been the Black family, and for a long time the Black Church.
Concentrating first on the Black family; studies show that when there is a breakdown in the family structure, the chances of success and building productive communities decreases significantly.
When the family unit is not a cohesive unit, the opportunity for breaking the cycle of poverty is limited. Yes, there are those that manage to overcome the obstacles that may hinder them from achieving their goals, such as obtaining an education; but there are many that do not make education a priority, instead finding provision for one’s family becoming the primary focus.
We know that the rate of divorce has increased significantly. But on the flipside, the rates of marriage among Black Americans have decreased, as well. Many are opting to forgo marriage and either cohabitate or making the decision to raise their children as single mothers or fathers.
Past studies have shown that children coming from a two parent home are more likely to make the transition from childhood to adulthood with fewer rates of dropout, teenage pregnancy, and addiction to either drugs or alcohol. [This does not include statistics for those coming from abusive backgrounds.]
It is found that children that come from a single parent home, and have been introduced or acclimated to a mentoring program significantly increase their chances of breaking the cycle of High School drop-out, trouble with authority, teen pregnancy and the ability to achieve and attain a higher education, minimalizing the factors for another generation of poverty.
When a community is comprised of working individuals, structured and happy family conditions; you will see a desire and concern for that community that outweigh the limitations of education of a generation past, and a new generation filled with hope and determination. And a willingness to fight for what each and every community deserves: better schools, better opportunities, better medical facilities, and access to programs that will help to alleviate the pressures of a slow economy.
The Black Church
The Black Church has been a central figure in the lives of African Americans. It has been more than a place of worship, but has been a place that birthed and facilitated social activism. In past generations, the Black Church has had a significant impact on the future of Black America.
Yet, in recent decades, the Black Church has been under great scrutiny. Many of its leaders coming under fire for being duplicitous in their care of their flock—as in fleecing the flock to gain personal status, while its members still struggle to make ends meet.
In years past, the Black Church was the glue that held the Black communities together. When the family unit began to break down, many turned to the church for help and guidance. The Black Church would step in as a source of aid to mothers in need, the care for its elderly, and community programs that would keep the young people in the community occupied.
Although there are many churches that have and are stepping up to the plate, there are many that are not. Whether it is due to personal politics, or the inability to reach this next generation of Black Americans, the Black Church in many communities are coming up short, and is no longer seen as the respected and stable entity that it once was.
The future of Black America is found in its past. Although we face a myriad of obstacles and continued struggles; there is a way in which we can ensure a greater future for the coming generations of Black Americans.
The legacy that we will leave future generations is incumbent upon what we are willing to do right now. In the past, we have turned to each other and the church for guidance and structure. Perhaps it is time to go back to our roots and find out where we may have gotten off track.
The Black family will always be at the core of what makes a Black American who they are. Although the face of the family structure has changed over the years; it is still at the core, and where we need to begin.
The Black church has the opportunity to pick up the pieces that they allowed to fall. To mend the cracks that has occurred in the body of the church.
The Black community must get back to the basics, and begin to work with one another and not against one another. The pie is big enough for everyone to get a piece. Perhaps we just need to know how to start sharing again, and remember what a real community looks like, and what it takes for us to go forward.
The Future Is In The Past: Taking a look at what can be done, and has been done to change the future of Black America.