January 14, 2013
By Edward Chisolm
It is that time again, Black men. You knew it was coming. It’s that time that we, as Black men, have to look into the mirror and ask those soul searching, heart wrenching, and life affirmation questions: Who Am I? What do I value most? And, what impact am I having on the world in which I live? The Bible is illustrative on this point when Jesus stills the storm on the sea and it prompted the disciples to ask “what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him” (Matthew 8:27). What manner of man indeed. Here we are asking the same question of ourselves. With the winds of racial and political unrest in our community raging, with the tempest of youth violence causing an upheaval, we must pause and ask the question. My worldview, my Christian worldview, signals me to be reminded that so goes Black men, so goes the Black family, and so goes the Black community.
Consider the following: 26.8% of children (18 years of age and under) in Chatham County lived in poverty in 2010, compared to 32.3% of children in Savannah. There were 1,439 reports made to Child Protective Services (CPS) in 2010-11, resulting in 1,170 children involved in CPS investigations. Of that number, 62% (726) were Black compared to 31 % (374) being White. The Department of Juvenile Justice reported that a total of 352 youth were “supervised” in 2010 with 276 (78%) of them being Black males compared to 19 (5.4%) being White males. As well, 105 (81%) of the 129 youth committed to the state were Black males compared to 2 (1.5%) being White males. Low birth weight births weigh less than 5.5 pounds. These babies have a greater chance of experiencing developmental and health concerns later in life. On average, twice as many Black babies are born with low birth weight as are White babies in this community. Also during 2010, there 1,052 reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the 13-19 age category, 592 (56%) for Blacks as compared to 56 (5.3%) for Whites. The same disparity holds true for infant mortality, where twice as many Black babies die before the first year of life than White babies in our community, as well as in communities across this nation. We can speak to many other issues such as teen pregnancy, repeat teen pregnancy, school dropout and truancy. More Black children are affected than other children.
Yes, what manner of men are we? Do we in fact value our children and our families as other men do? I think so. In fact, I know so. Why do I put this at the door step of Black men? Because that’s where it belongs. We are the priests of our homes. We are the priests of our community. The Bible teaches that Christ is a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek; you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). I submit that Black men who follow Christ are of that same order. Specifically, we are both kings and priests (or should be) of our homes and the community-at-large. The chief role of the priest was that of servant. “Then Melchizedek King of Salem (Jerusalem) brought out bread and wine, he was the priest of God Most High and he blessed him” (Gen. 14:18). Notice first that this priest king “served” and he blessed Abram. We are to be servants to the community and a blessing to our women, children and families. We are not to be “takers.” The second major role is that of spiritual leader. When Black men provide true spiritual leadership we take on the responsibility of being a conduit to bring down God’s radiant blessings and influence in the world. I don’t believe God wants the Black community, and especially its children, to experience some of the horrible things behind the numbers mentioned above. The sickness, abuse, and death are not what God has in mind for his people. And as far as the Black community is concerned, he is holding Black men responsible and accountable.
Say what you want, the Black church is the single most powerful representative that God has on this earth in order to create and develop the most powerful, spiritual institution known to mankind—the family. In particular, Christ-centered Black families. The priest represents kindness and focusing of life’s energies on sanctity and divine purpose. Simply put, we need more Black men to be the priest in the order of Christ (Melchizedek) and become spiritual leaders, servants and conduit of divine blessings to the Black community. Of course, that comes in many forms such as being better fathers to our children (and claiming them!), and better husbands and significant others to our wives and female companions. Even those of us who are leaders of organizations that serve the community are divinely responsible for seeking out justice, righteousness and equality on behalf of the people. Some of those numbers above represent the onslaught of a relentless attack by evil forces that mean us no good. It also represents some disturbing self-inflicted wounds we need to take ownership of as a community. Police Chief Willie Lovett says that Savannah’s gangs are becoming increasingly organized and violent. Does that mean families are becoming increasingly less organized and powerless to do anything about it? The solution for gang activity and violence doesn’t (or shouldn’t) rest with just law enforcement. It starts with the family. Strong families. Christian families. Supportive families. Conscious, competent and committed families. And that starts with the men. And for Black families and the Black community that starts with Black men. At least the ones created in the order of Melchizedek. So, what manner of men are we exactly?
Love, Peace & Power!!!