“Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’”
This is what the Bible says in 2 Kings 20:1 (NASB), and if we look at the state of Black America in 2016, it is abundantly clear that there are some collective issues that need to be addressed, as well as a house that needs to be put in order by the Black community if it is to grow and thrive.
The 2016 Presidential race has shined the light on the disconnect between races in this country and has revealed a significant reality that the Civil Rights Act merely put a Band-Aid on the underlying racial problems that have existed in this country for centuries, and shows that it is something that has never been dealt with and that currently needs to be dealt with.
Many people within the African American community have had a difficult time dealing with the external forces that have impacted them for decades, and as a result, a deep level of mistrust has been developed towards White people, and many other groups outside the Black community. However, there are many self-inflicted internal forces that also plague the African American community, and it is beyond time the African American community address these significant issues and get its collective house in order, before it is too late.
Unemployment is still tremendously high amongst African Americans, especially amongst Black youth, and there are constant challenges that the Black community consistently faces. Across the nation, African Americans show up at or near the top of the food chain in many unflattering categories; such as poverty; inadequate educational offerings; dealing with crime; senseless homicides; significant health disparities; single-family households; orphans and foster care children; homelessness; economic disparities and a huge wealth gap; mass incarceration; government assistance; and a myriad of other unsavory issues.
On the surface, these issues seem insurmountable and overwhelming, but Black people have endured issues that have been far worse in this country. Historically, Black people have shown resilience that has moved their community from a position of weakness to a position of strength.
If there is one thing that has been a constant, it is that the majority Black people in this country have not, nor continue to be content with any of the issues that they are faced with; yet, most Black people don’t know how to deal with these grim realities and effectively change course.
The journey of Blacks in America, from slavery to the Civil Rights movement, and from integration to the election of the first Black president of the United States, is the perfect example of how the unrelenting resiliency of Black people has resulted in the progress that has been seen.
Sadly, in the midst of all Blacks have gone through in this country, many beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by their African ancestors and former slaves, have failed to embrace, and in some cases have abandoned, the spirit of collective unity. It is important to acknowledge that if it were not for the many committed African Americans who embraced a spirit of collective unity, Black people would not have been able to attain the level of independence and attain the prosperity they have had access to.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of unity is “the state of being in full agreement”; something Black people have exemplified for centuries.
The Bible asks a question in Amos 3:3 (KJV) – “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
Simply put, if Black people are not walking together in agreement, then they cannot say they are collectively unified. Speaking of the Bible, remember the story of the Tower of Babel, found in the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis?
In that biblical story, it states that the whole world had one language, and a common speech, and that the people decided they would come together in collective unity to build a tower that would reach to the heavens, so they could make a name for themselves and not be separated from one another. The collective unity amongst these people was so strong that God Himself stated in Genesis 11:6 (NIV) that, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”
In other words, their collective unity was so powerful that God confused their language so that they could not even understand one another, and God knows the power of what collective unity can accomplish when it is put into action.
Sadly, many African Americans have seemingly forgotten how their collective unity and unified struggle has given them the right to say and do the things they so freely enjoy today.
Through collective unity, African Americans:
1. Endured the barbaric system of legalized slavery and saw it come to an end
2. Increased their political clout and gained critical positions that helped influence legislation during the Reconstruction era
3. Endured Jim Crow and fought to end discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to end discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and end discrimination in voting with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
4. Marched and economically boycotted systems and institutions to end segregation
5. Experienced economic prosperity together, with examples such as Black Wall Street
Contrary to the narratives that have been put out there about Black people, by those outside the Black community and those within the Black community, Black people have a history of working together and getting things done through collective unity. It is time to return to that.
The struggle for economic and social equality for African Americans will continue to be an ongoing battle, especially when there are external forces seeking to hinder that from happening.
In a nutshell, this is not the first rodeo for Black people. For centuries, African Americans have had a strong faith in God, coupled with a continued hope that He would deliver them from the hand of their evil and harsh oppressors.
Black people have never given up, and when things were at the worst, Blacks remained resilient and refused to give up and settle for injustice. It wasn’t pretty, and it definitely was not comfortable or convenient, but Black people overcame and fought until a change came.
As a people, it is important that African Americans never forget the generation of leaders that came before them, nor disregard those who laid a solid foundation and left a trustworthy blueprint to follow. Those Black freedom fighters hoped to pass their torch on to an appreciative group of beneficiaries, who would continue the fight for equality and justice, while teaching their offspring how to do the same. Unfortunately, that has not happened, but Black people can still and must immediately return to their foundational roots if they hope to see change and avoid becoming extinct.
The Bible says in the second chapter of Exodus that the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and God heard their cry for help and sent someone to deliver them on His behalf. That man was Moses and he was not a perfect leader. What Moses did, Black people have done and can do again also. There are no perfect leaders, and many people cry out and ask God, “Why are you allowing this to happen? Why don’t you do something about what is happening to us?”
God has done something. He created each and every one individually to make an impact. Black people must come together in collective unity, in order to meet the needs and solve the problems that are plaguing the African American neighborhoods and communities across America.
It is time for the Black church and Black clergy, along with parents; grandparents; Black youth; corporate leaders; community activists; educators; healthcare professionals; law enforcement officials; elected officials; business and community leaders; and anyone else, to step up and take a leading role in supporting an intentional effort towards collective unity within the Black community all across America.
For everyone involved, this has to be a cause so important and so necessary, that it cannot be abandoned or ignored. It can start with a remnant of Black people. It cannot be a fade or a temporary focus. It has to be intentional and consistent. It has to be organized and has to be goal-oriented. It has to be focused on the most important thing of all – collective unity.