It's about our community and our spirituality!

For What Shall It Profit Us

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the world, and lose his soul?” – Mark 8:36

American politics is a system that breeds cynicism, corruption, cronyism, and mediocrity. The most successful political candidates are usually the ones that offer quick and easy solutions to problems that can have deep social implications. Can’t afford to rebuild the roads? Issue a bond, borrow the money, and let future generations figure out how to pay for it. Need to balance the federal budget? Tap the social security money reserves intended to help pay for people’s retirement and let the politicians in office when it’s time for people to retire figure out how to get the money. People are complaining about the racial disparity in the public school system? Instead of spending money to support the schools that are lacking, usually in the black neighborhoods, we can spend money on bussing so we can shuffle students around to various schools so everyone can be mediocre. Are the gasoline prices getting too high? We can suspend federal taxes for a time period so that the eighteen cents that the government collects to repair roads and other services stops. Instead of paying four dollars a gallon gasoline with eighteen cents going to taxes we can pay four dollars a gallon and someone just pockets that extra eighteen cents. In the world of politics, immediate, simple solutions are key to winning over a public with little interest for the details of public social issues.

To compound this problem, there are powerful entities that want to make sure that their interest are well represented whatever the political environment. Wealthy corporate and private entities will use whatever vast resources at their disposal to wield influence on just about any serious political candidate from the local level all the way to the federal. These people have the resources to influence even the most powerful politicians to their disposal. It is a foregone conclusion that this influence involves money. But the ultimate goal is the power to bend others, even the most committed type A personality, to act against their own self interest no matter what. Often, it is a system of quid pro quo where I scratch your back and you’ll scratch mine. It is a prime condition for secrets that betray not the public’s trust or sense of faith, but the public’s sense of comfort that the politician will do whatever so the public doesn’t have to care about it. A politician’s penchant for secret deals and under the table partnerships and is a prime environment for fostering the corruption and cronyism.

It is truly difficult for me as a member of the black community to develop a comfortable trust in someone who has become so adept at thriving in such an environment. With rare exception, the political environment of the manipulators and the manipulated rarely has the black community’s welfare at heart. Indeed, a politician that makes the choice to reveal his or her self as a proponent of the black community is a politician that will be quickly guided to the exit door signaling an end to their political career. Therefore, a politician, whether black or white, will do well to keep any affiliation with the black community as distant as possible.

Black politicians have been able to achieve public office at all levels of government. Blacks have been city councilmen, Mayors, state representatives, Governors, and federal representatives. The only office black people have yet to hold is the President. But just because a black person holds a certain political office means nothing to black people. Black people are just as likely to be lynched by the police in cities with black Mayors or black police chiefs as we are in cities with all white public officials. The black community is ignored in states with black Governors just as we are in any other state. Poverty in the black community is just as rampant. Black unemployment is just as pervasive. Education for black people will be just as lacking. Medical care for black people will be just as disappointing.

With all of that said, there is an inherent flaw in the black community’s proclivity to put its collective faith in any politician. A cursory glance at American history will show that some politicians have appeared as champions of social change and an enormous boon to the black community. People in the black community have been programmed to accept America’s most famous politicians as people who have done well for the black community. The black community is supposed to appreciate George Washington because he freed his slaves in his will. But the fact is that George Washington condoned and supported the institution of slavery just like every land owner in his day. The black community is supposed to be thankful to Abraham Lincoln because he freed the slaves. But little is mentioned of the fact that Mr. Lincoln was a stout segregationist he never wanted to end slavery, who believed in the superiority of the white race, and would never condone black people achieving equality to white people. John Kennedy may have made the phone call to Doctor Martin Luther King when he was in prison for his civil disobedience. But Mr. Kennedy had a history of selecting some of the most conservative judges to fill the openings in the American south. And while the black community may thank Lyndon Johnson for passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mr. Johnson condoned the public harassment of all civil rights icons throughout his presidency. And these are the Presidents we are supposed to admire.

Richard Nixon hired Donald Rumsfeld to head the office charged with the responsibility of eliminating poverty in America. Hiring the uber neoconservative to manage one of the most socially oriented offices in the presidency is akin to hiring a fox to guard a chicken coop. Ronald Reagan initiated his war on welfare with his story of the black welfare queen who sits at home and robs the federal government blind as justification to cut the social welfare programs that helped the black community to the bone. And no President could have manifested more disinterest in the welfare of the black community than George Bush during the Katrina disaster. President Bush declared a state of emergency for parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, but his declaration didn’t include New Orleans or the parishes with a heavy black population.

So it is with a great deal of suspicion and low expectations that a black politician becoming President will do anything with the black community in mind. Indeed, it is interesting that a black politician that has to defend himself against white people who regularly make everything from highly suggestive racial innuendoes all the way through to outright blatant claims of African American inferiority will dismiss such language as something that must be ignored, but will become visibly outraged and angry when his former pastor says that the black politician is required to make politically advantageous moves in order to win the highest political office in the land.

It is understandable after all. A lot of black people say that the pastor should keep quiet in order to help the black man win the presidency. But what will the black community gain other than bragging rights that a black man has finally reached the final political frontier? If the experience with the black Governor and the black Mayor is any indication, we won’t gain anything that will achieve anything for us. It will be business as usual.

Most of the social changes that have benefited the black community did not come from public office. The social changes that we have craved came through activism. It came through people who have been front and center in the church. Most of our changes have come from the black community that works hard and made sacrifices of dignity, sacrifices of physical pain, sacrifices of time and money, and the ultimate sacrifices of life. No politician is willing to make these kinds of sacrifices to help the black community. The black politician has an image that white people can trust him or her to uphold. Social changes, the type of changes many white people protest in order to keep their white privilege, will damage that image of trust. It is the black church that has gotten us this far. If black people are to ever come back together again to continue our long, arduous fight for some kind of racial equality in America, it will be through the black church and not through any political office.

The way things look it is a fairly safe bet that soon a black man will wear the title of President of the United States. In order to help the black man gain that title, a lot of people are ready to turn their back on the liberal theology of the black church. Many of us are willing to sell our soul in order to gain what we think is the greatest political office in the world. And black people want those bragging rights so badly that we are ready to allow the only institution that has ever truly worked in our favor, the black church, to be labeled as some relic of a segregationist past fueled by black people’s victim mentality. The black community stands ready to abandon our collective soul.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - Posted by | African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Community, Black Culture, Black History, Black Men, Black People, Clarence Thomas, Democrats, Jeremiah Wright, Justice, Life, Michelle Obama, Philosophy, Racism, Reverse Discrimination, Slavery, Spirituality, The Race Card, Thoughts, White Privilege


  1. And then what will we have when a black man does reach the white house? Will we have any improvement of those disparities which you listed, NO! Will we then become players in corporate America, NO! Will we be able to walk, drive or just be on the city streets without contagious shooting or beatings, NO! Will we somehow get our communities out of this rut, NO!

    We will have little in the way of anything to show for a black man in the presidency. We will have, just like you said, more of the same old same old. People think that these small advances which are a long time overdue will somehow give their and all black lives a big boost of some sort. Haven’t we all been disappointed enough by these thoughts?

    I don’t want to be cynical but I agree with you that we have had mayors, senators, congressmen, police chiefs, fire chiefs and union presidents and we are still suffering from widening disparities. Does anyone really think that white dominated congress, senate and supreme court is going to allow a black president, if we get one, to pass any legislation that will benefit blacks to the tune of equality? HA! People wake up and get your head out of that dark stinky place because that would be like asking each white American to shoot their foot off. It won’t happen!

    Thanks for a great post. Hopefully people will realize that the only change that comes will happen when we pull together whether it be churches or whatever and MAKE change happen.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback theblacksentinel,

    I must say that I have little hope of the representatives of black churches saying or doing anything to stir up the status quo. In my humble opinion the Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a refreshing change from the same old tow the lilne rhetoric of pastors like Creflo Dollar and T.D. Jakes. Most preacher’s sermons usually run along the line of just make your ten percent of salary donation to me and I’ll talk to god about getting you a blessing.

    For the most part, the current state of the black church is a true disappointment. But nevertheless, historically speaking the black church has been the one true source of change for the black community. Will black people ever get back to a point where we can rely on the black church to become the instrument of social change once again. Only Baba Orunmila knows, and he isn’t saying. But it is a fair bet that the catalyst for social change won’t be generated by any black politician. American politics refuses to be anything but the same old status quo of white priviledge and black subjugation.

    The whole point of the article was to try and get people to think what the successful election of a black politician will mean for the black community. I don’t see it meaning much of anything. A lot of people will have high expectations and will be highly disappointed. The politician has rarely been an agent of change.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. I am an Obama supporter but this I know! I have been saying it and people dont listen. Obama is a great politican but he isnt going to dramatically if at all change the lives of blacks in this country, period. He cannot even address the issues that are going on now. Rev. Wright is refreshing. You should hear the rest of his stuff. You should really see what he has done for the community. He spoke to the need for transformation in our society, the fact that blacks were not deficent or dysfunctional but instead different with a unique culture and he stood up and refused to back dowen in front of whites at his appearances. They called him “feisty and defiant”…being feisty and defiant is field negro behavior and I applaud him. He speaks about disparities. He says the stuff that you guys talk about all the time. He has worked to empower blacks by teaching them about pride in their roots, heritage and culture, their history etc… He also speaks about the need for self-reliance, strong communities and families and social responsibility in a country that could care less about its black citizens. He inspired Obama’s very message of change and hope. He dedicated his life to his community and they all hate him now.

    They are following Obama’s lead and dismissing him as hate speech as some egotisical man who has only received attention in the last three months. Truth is, Wright is a prominent and well respected minister, he was honored by Essence Magazine, he used to be on TV-One, he has been rewarded by many organizations, churches, universities etc… and he built a church across from a projects in Chicago when he could have gone to some other neighborhood. He ministered the sick, aided the elderly, nurtured the youth, mentored ex-cons and those in prison and more. Rev. Otis Moss III who is 37 and the new pastor of Trinity is great too. He is almost like Wright’s protege. When I hear people say that Wright refuses to allow to pass the torch to young people as they claim he refuses to do with Barack, they are lying.

    I believe in Barack but I know the downfall of politicans especially black politicans in keeping with their black constituency. The presidents that blacks have lauded and hung pictures of on their wall and called “black”, played them. Some of them still don’t get it. Government is not the answer, things have to start from the bottom up. We cannot allow for the few arenas of public space to go silent or unprotected. Wright is in keeping with the fire and brimstone preaching of the real black church. He’s no T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar or any other of the other moviestar, P.I.M.P, bling preachers that have corrupted the essence of the black church.

    Our community has too many bargainers and opportunists. They sell us out when they are ready to make another million. The last 30 years have seen the rise of multi-millionaire black athletes, fake leaders, corrupt black politicans, hip-hop moguls, comedians, superficial talk show hosts and the list goes on. They could care less about the black community yet they are lauded. They sell their souls for white approval and acceptance.

    I am very young, but this is not shocking. Black people are still confused as to their condition, what the idea of unity is and how to bring about change. Blacks in the last 30 years have allowed for themselves to lead a deluded life. They will pay when they see the basket were they put all their eggs bottom out. They will begin to point fingers but I will then point them to a mirror.

    You know Brother Peacemaker and the Black Sentinel, I feel like we are in the minority. Sad.

    Comment by RhondaCoca | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback RhondaCoca,

    I agree with you vehemently! Reverend Wright is refreshing in this era of black churches with spiritual leaders that insist on being one of the also rans. So many people want to do little more than repeat the interest of the dominant community. The black community has too many people who are assimilationist and narcissistic wannabes. As long as there is a black person who is willing to turn his or her back to the black community we will never have the wherewithal to come together as a single unit with the ability to promote the interests of the black community that will promote racial equality and understanding.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. Nice post. It adds more depth to my posts on this matter. Thanks!

    Comment by asabagna | Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the feedback asabagna,

    I have to confess that your post The Soul of Barack Obama: Part I was the sole inspiration for this one. Thank you for the motivation!


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, May 21, 2008 | Reply

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