Men of My Tribe: The Rev Dr.
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I believe heís as close to perfect as humanly possible. He did everything youíre suppose to do, the way youĎre suppose to do it: Education over athletics, marriage before sex, (well, at least before children). Sacrifice and self-discipline are his strengths. Devoted man of God. In him I can find no fault. Beautiful, well-educated wife who strengthens him, and doesnít take away from her. They have two wonderful sons, whom themselves are both well educated and talented and a credit to their parents. He seems to be perfect.
Heís also all I believe a Preacher/Pastor to be. He says he doesnít want to be, but that heís called by God, and that he would want to do other things. Which is what I believe is the way it should be. Some seek out the pulpit to satisfy their own vainglory. I donít believe this is so for this man. I truly believe that if he werenít called he wouldnít assume the position.
Just recently weíve offered him the position as our next Pastor. He said he didnít want it, but that he felt it was a destiny given to him by God, (good answer!). I also believe this. Itís scary in some ways, but I do feel that God is at work in his life, and has prepared him to be our next Pastor.
Recently, I was at his clinic, (heís a psychologists), where he was holding a seminar on ďMass Incarceration and its effect on the African American CommunityĒ. Great seminar! Learned a lot. The speaker called it: ďThe third iteration of Slavery, the first being The Middle Passage, and the second being the Jim Crow era after the Civil War till the industrialization of the south after World War II.
The speaker said some remarkable things, among them was what he termed ďan unemployable populationĒ. My cousin who is an educator said that the public school system educates children for 12/13yrs and when they graduate theyíre qualified to do nothing. This speaker reiterated that sentiment and added that the industry that brought the blacks out of the south is gone. Blacks moved north following jobs in factories and steel mills. As the factories closed, moved to the suburbs, different states, and countries, the population that supported them stayed. To fill the vacuum they created an industry of their own: drugs!
(Hereís the kicker!)
Crack cocaine, unlike crystal meth, isnít made, or synthesized in the community, so how does it get in the country, let alone the community? And where does the money go, it certainly doesnít stay in the black community? And then the society builds another industry on top of this: the industry of incarceration. They require Drs, Lawyers, Judges, police, detectives, drug therapist, drug dogs and handlers, prisons, prison guards, and wardens! (I donít have the figures yet, but Iím looking for how much money is spent incarcerating African American males as opposed to educating them).
One of the attendees of the seminar was a well educated, lettered, experienced and well versed in the situation. She said that a black youth is arrested for drugs by the police, traumatized by the injustice and unfairness of the judicial system, then heís institutionalized by the prison system, ostracized by the community and stigmatized by society. We turn them loose after their incarceration no better than they were when they were arrested, worse in most respects, and expect them to earn a living, and make their own way. Not possible.
The speaker asked us, (all of us in attendance), where do we go from here? Now that we know this, now what? Heís absolutely right! This information isnít really all that revolutionary. Itís nothing we didnít already know, itís just confirmation. It does absolutely no good to anyone there.
(Hereís another kicker)
I know what to do.
The information has to be disseminated to those who needed where itíll do the most good, in a media that they can access. You canít write it down, because they donít read. You canít put it on the radio because they only listen to hip-hop and rap. You canít put it on TV, (not yet anyway), because theyíll turn the channel. It has to be made available on the internet in the form of a pod cast. Why would they watch a pod cast? To see their friends. Incarceration is the ultimate reality show. It has to be a voluntary program from inside the facility. Their friends will tune in to see their homies, theyíll use their social network to tell their friends and family. In the end there is only one way to get anyone to learn any/do anything, the drive must come from inside oneself.
This is why I can relate to the RevDrís statement about God giving him a destiny to be our Pastor: I believe this is my destiny. I would rather be a writer. Iíd rather write and daydream all day, but I believe God is at work in my life to bring a different dream/work(?) to fruition.
Donít get me wrong: there are better men than me to do this, there are better qualified, and more able women to do this, but I feel that is exactly the point. Itís not a job for the exceptional, itís a job for the everyman. Success can not be the exception; it must be come the rule. For that to happen everyone must answer the call, not merely the gifted or the exceptional. The RevDrís of the world are to busy, the Globetrotters, and Olympians, and even the former Greats are too far from us. We canít wait for another Martin Luther King Jr., or even a Jesse Jackson for that matter, (If itís going to be, itís up to me). Itís not a time for clever slogans, itís a time for everyone to get involved, itís time for everyone to find a need and fill it, to do for ourselves.
PS: I was at the Black Religion and Spirituality Conference on Tues night. The speaker said something that blew my mind: 54% of Wayne County was incarcerated! Yow! Not half a city, Half a ďCountyĒ!