A DWINDLING CONGREGATION: THE DRASTIC DECLINE OF THE BLACK CHURCH

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“What we were for so long is dying so fast.”


 

As a young child growing up, I attended church with my mother and two sisters every single Sunday. Since becoming an adult I attend less, not because of religious belief, but because of my job. Working everyday is a must, not just for me, but most Americans. Yet this topic is not about most Americans, but a certain segment of the country that has held on to the Christian faith for a very long time. And that segment of America is the Black community. You see, I went to church every Sunday, but my mother and her sisters went not only every Sunday, but they went to church services during the week. And for my grandparents, they went so much, it could have been easily misleading into thinking they were working in the church as a second job. So why did I choose to talk about the topic of the Black community and the church?

Well, for me, I live in New York City, and recently on the news, I have been hearing how the Black churches across the five boroughs have been closing their doors. One of which, the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn just celebrated 100 years of service. But they are concerned that due to high rent because of gentrification and dwindling members attending, they are in fear of closing their doors as well. Their church has gone from 1,300 members down to just 75 people coming to church on Sundays. Now you think to yourself, the Black church was more than just a place of congregated for church. The church for the community was a place which held most of our meetings that were orchestrated by civil rights leaders during the movement. There they discussed agendas for upcoming marches, sit-ins, and any other show of resistance against the oppression we as Black people faced during that time period.

Now, what has been the haven for our social justice and worship is now closing doors. But not just closing their doors citywide, but nationwide. Well, what is happening to the numbers of Black membership? One of the reasons for dwindling numbers is why I don’t attend: employment. Work is so hard to come by in our society today, so every chance you get to work, you do so. Some may take it as you not showing enough time for God, but you are put into a position in which you have to work. Making ends meet is so important, that missing any day is crucial to survival. And with so many of us as Black people still below the poverty level, you can’t expect your parishioners to just take off of work. Yet, is that the only reason, no.

Another reason for the decline in the Black church is due to relationships becoming fragmented in the community. What do I mean by relationships, I mean Black men and women. Going to church in the Black community was a family tradition. But now, with single parent households and mothers trying to carry the load of the family, sometimes she is just too stressed to get her kids ready for Sunday service. Another connection with respect to relationships is the rising interracial marriages. Black people are marrying outside our ethnicity, and those relationships are taking on new beliefs of their spouse or not attending church at all. And still, there more reasons why churches in the Black community are closing.

There is also a rise in the number of Black people leaving the Christian faith and converting to other religious, or not believing at all. That’s right, believe it or not, Atheism is on the rise, even in the Black community. A community that has been deeply rooted in God that even non-believers believe just in case God exist. But why has the belief decline throughout the community. One aspect is in regards to the way church has been centered toward believing that God watches over households where children reside. Yet so many of these households are the main homes that struggle to survive. Another connection to the loss of belief is the same reason for many other groups leaving the church: scientific proofs. The smarter man get the harder man has in believing in divine intervention and the afterlife.

In the end, there are so many reasons why Black churches have diminished, but only a few stick out the most. Scary as it may seem, you might see the nonexistence of the Black church in America. Does that mean Black people are losing faith in life and themselves? No, but as a man who grew up in the Black church, if I live to be my mother’s age, the transformations that our community will take on could be drastic.


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WHY WE FIGHT: WHY SO MUCH RACIAL TENSION IN AMERICA LATELY

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“Why we fight.”


This past weekend, there was yet more race related tension in America. This time
Related imageit was a clash between Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist versus protesters on the other side pushing back against the Nationalists. The main site was Charlottesville, Virginia, where Nationalist were opposed to the removal of a Confederate statue of former leader Robert E. Lee. Another separate site of tension was at the University of Virginia’s campus, where a large group gathered with Related imagetorches. These were also people who were in alignment with the White Nationalists in Charlottesville. And both sights were places of not only verbal tension, but physical altercations took place resulting in dozens injured and three people killed. And even with the president making a statement regarding the matter, it still didn’t calm anything down.

Today, on this Monday morning, we now have reports all over news outlets, which will be covering these two incidents. Conversations will be taking place over the days, weeks, and even months regarding where do we go from here as a country. My last post I was asking the question about a possible secession from the Image result for charlottesville tensionUnited States by the South. And if this were to happen, the economic implications of a country could be gravely impacting. But me personally, I don’t see that taking place. What I do see is more and more of a racial divide. And I have theories as to why the divide is taking hold, as well as why you aren’t seeing more Black people involved in the fight as you might have expected to see.

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Average American expected to look like by 2050

Here is a theory of mine as to why America is having all these problems with racial tension. See, the total percentage of White people in America is 65%, while everyone else falls into the group that is the 35% (Black people 12%, Hispanic/Latinos 14%, East Asians and other is 9%. And as time progresses, the numbers will fall for Whites and increase for everyone else. Meaning, White Americans will become the minority in the United States. But to who? Black people were only 10% of the population in 1950. And by the year 2050 we’re only projected to be 15-16% of America. So this is a Black issue, yet as an entirety it is not. White Nationalists have an issue with an influx of immigrants to the country.

The numbers of Hispanics will climb as well as East Asians, who by the year 2050
will have almost if not fully surpassed Black people in America. So America is becoming what I call, “Hispasia” or “Latasia.” The prevailing Hispanic/Latino population and the growing East Asian population as well. Who, what Nationalist feel, pose a threat to the natural order of America because they feel with a new group in control the narrative could be rewritten. So through all this fighting I say to myself, where are Black people? Because like I said before, we weren’t in Virginia at either of the sites. So how do we fair out through all of this? And what I have been hearing is not what you might think.

I have been hearing Black people aligning themselves with some of the same Image result for black nationalismthought processes as the Nationalists. But our sentiment is on the opposite spectrum in regards to our own economic growth. I’ve been hearing that maybe we should form our own unions, and erect statues of our own heroes as well. You might ask why, why would we speak of the same sentiment. Because when you have seen the same imagery, the same song, played over and over again, you get tired. And some of us have hit a breaking point where it’s like, “Hey, you guys want your space, we’ll give it to you.” “Anything to keep us from having to put up with your bullshit, especially with the government not responding.” Now, I don’t know if that’s the majority, but it exist.

Yet, in the end, what is to come of America? Will we see more tension, or is this the sign of things worsening because we are going through change. I don’t know, but where I stand as an African American, I have no clue regarding us. I should be more confident, yet I don’t see a positive outcome for us. Will we go deeper into the abyss of America, or will we eventually have to leave and start over elsewhere? Whatever the outcome, America is headed in a backward direction, and the push is growing by the day.


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JUNETEENTH DAY: WHERE ARE WE NOW FROM THEN

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“The descendants of blood, sweat, and tears, still going strong.”


Today marks the 152nd anniversary in which the first Juneteenth Day celebration was held in Galveston, Texas. And for those of you that are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, it is the celebration that marks the freedom of slaves in the United States. And in this time period, so much has taken place in the United States. From leaving slavery and entering Jim Crow south to electing the the United States first Black president into office. There has been a lot of ups and down over the past 150 years, but what has changed? Recently, there was an acquittal of yet another police officer for shooting and unarmed Black male.

But, the question I want to ask for this post is, what further must be done to insure that we are not relegated to the past. Now I know slavery is a jump, but man has a way of repeating history. And it may not even be us, but someone else. Which is why the conversations should always be around because once we forget, it is bound to happen again. I know for a fact I don’t want to wind-up back in subjugation. Now, some may say, that is just ludicrous. We are in a different time period than the past, and another slave trade could not possibly happen. Yes, that is true, I don’t see another slave trade in America, but what about somewhere else?

What about sex slavery? Sex slavery is not only still a big issue, but there has been cases of this in United States. Holding people against their will and making them sell themselves in the form of sex for payment. The person gets no money and the other using them takes everything. Yet even though this is a problem, it is not the biggest concern of Black people or anybody else for that matter in America. So concerning Black people in America, what does our future hold for us? Will things get better in the community or will they worsen?

I have been taking notice to the state of Black America, and I would love to think that the community is getting better. But it’s hard to see because in the now, it doesn’t seem that way. It seems as if the issues are worsening, especially with the slow economics of America. I don’t like being pessimistic, but it’s tough to say. And in the end, that is the reality as it pertains to our future. Because there are so many White men and women struggling themselves, so I know we are having hard times. But hopefully I am just being paranoid, and the future holds something for us. If not, we could see a role back of everything we have fought for in this country.


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BLUE CODE, BLACK CODE

“Will it ever end?”

It has ben a little over 5o years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 48 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1968. And I ask the question, how much has really changed since the 1960’s. And I am not just speaking of the laws, but a relationship. A relationship between two groups of people who have shared land with each other spanning a total of 300 plus years. Yet the relationship between the two is still polarizing. And what do I mean by the two groups; I’m speaking of Black and White Americans.

Let’s start with the term White and Black Americans. I focus on this first and foremost because these two colors have been used as more of a social construct rather than a real ethnic focus. In this country we like to place emphasis on skin color, not to promote diversity, but it’s almost as if we use this to designate enemies. This is why the whole idea of radical Islam terrifies people because you really can’t put a face to the belief. But in the case of Black and White, where does this fragmented relationship come from.

I ask this question because there has been yet again another shooting of a Black male this time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now you’ll get some Black people on one side that say he disobeyed the police orders. And on the other side, you’ll get a few White men and women that will be on the side of the Black male shot. But for the most part Black will say innocent Black male was shot and Black Lives Matter, White will say do as you’re told and Blue Lives Matter.

I tend to believe that this reaction is more than just a coincidence. In addition, as much as the media places emphasis on this issue, it goes deeper than the television or internet. My belief is that racial bickering (and when I say race I’m not talking human race, but race socially), comes from how this country was designed. Black and White fighting isn’t the failure of America, but it’s actually the success of what the building of this country was intended for in the beginning.

To better gauge why the two ethnic groups still differ we must look at the beginning and work our way forward. In the early 1600’s, there were an original few Africans brought to what is now the United States as Indentured Servants. What does that mean? That means that they had to serve for a small period of time, serve meaning labor. After that time period was up, the indenturee was not bound by the indenture. Now what’s interesting is that there were White men and women bound to the same indentured servitude. The only problem is that the market viewpoint was that Africans were cheaper. Because slavery was coming to fruition. This meant that the Europeans who were indentured were not held forever and it was merely choice. Why invest money in them when there is a system of forced labor against ones’ will taking hold? Economically it made since, so White indentured servitude declined, while Blacks in slavery increased.

All throughout slavery, the relationship was outlined and accepted. Blacks were the underlings who served and bowed to Whites. The Whites were the masters who enforced their will and beliefs. Even the poorest of White men and women in America were still above the Blacks. Very important this previous sentence.

Why was that sentence so important about poor Whites being above Blacks. This is why. Once slavery ended, there was a lot of animosity. Not just at the idea of Black people being freed, but at the Union from the Confederate South. Confederates saw the Civil War as nothing more than a way to cripple the south and not about freeing Black people held against their will. Also very important because Abraham Lincoln himself owned slaves, yet they were not freed even with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Now how does this all fit into poor Whites.

Well after slavery, at least being White meant they had an upper hand over Blacks. But with slavery over now there is this feeling of, “really.” “You mean to tell us we are no better than them.” Factions of Whites broke off, mainly individuals still with a bitter taste over the war and the freedom of slaves. From this you have such organizations like the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that born and rapidly spread. We see them today as a group of poor angry White men and women who can’t get over the past. But what we must realize is that in their heyday, these men and women had power, so much power that they could politically influence the presidency.

Yet, that too came to pass with the signing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968. Once again, another monumental documentation that left mixed feelings not only from White people, but Black as well. Keep this in mind about Black people getting angry. We will discuss this later in detail as to why Black people might be upset about the ending of Jim Crow. As for now, with the ending of Jim Crow, there was also another problem brewing. This problem was something no one saw coming. That was the issue of narcotics entering the Black community. After Jim Crow ended, prosperity looked promising, but instead there was an era of drugs and crime taking shape in Black communities nationwide. Mixed with the lack of jobs and various other opportunities post Jim Crow, young Black males turned to selling drugs as a way into generating an income.

Well you ask yourself, what about all those good Black fathers? Around this time another problematic systemic policy took hold in the Black community, and that was the welfare system. A policy that doled-out government funding to working poor mothers. The catch was the father couldn’t be present. So now you have narcotics, fatherless homes, and young boys with no guidance. This was a perfect recipe for disaster. This was an in, an in for what would be described as a new era of Jim Crow relationships.

Law enforcement was brought into the equation, and not just any. Cities like Los Angeles and Oakland recruited police preferably from southern cities who had experience dealing with Black people. Note how I said experience with dealing with Blacks. This was not a very good relationship and would create a new host of problems. After heroine hit from the late 1960’s to the late 1970’s, powder cocaine in the 1970’s into the 1980’s came next. From the 1980’s into the 1990’s a new drug hit called Crack Cocaine. So here you go, young Black males with absentee parents, policed by predominantly White male cops, and both having views of each other over throughout history already. Black males finding themselves growing up in the middle of gang and drug zones and police who didn’t discern between those who were criminal and those who weren’t. 

This all brings us to today. With the recent shootings from the police we ask ourselves, what’s the end game. There seems to not be one because every time it seems the White, Black relationship is getting better something else pops up. But remember when I said after Jim Crow, there were Black and Whites upset. Well for the Black people who were upset you look back. Blacks had their own schools, hospitals, banks, small businesses, and host of other jobs during segregation. Fast forward to today, and it seems things are worst now. So in a way there seems to be this discontent feeling. Maybe ending Jim Crow was a bad idea considering we had our own stuff then. Once we became equals we relinquished a lot and became fragmented.

Whatever the case may be, with this latest shooting, it seems like that clock has been set back yet again. From my understanding, it has to do with a feeling. To change people’s mindset, you have to change sentiment. That is a lot harder to do. How do you get Black and White people on the same page? You have to eliminate the terms White and Black from the American psyche. So much so that when a Black or White person look at each other we see American, and not a hue. How do you do that in a country where we have been made to feel like opposites for so long. I wish I knew; I truly wish I knew.