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The Church is Failing: The Young Black Male

This is a taboo subject. That I’ve thought about quite a bit but never had the courage to really vocalize. Courage and fear are funny things because one of them is just as strong as the other, it’s just a question of which one you choose to live in. So today, I choose to live within a courageous light. Why, being a black woman, and an active christian would I have a fear vocalizing my opinion on how black men have been failed by the church?

Messages are often misconstrued based on the perception of the reader. Additionally, it’s best practice to NOT add any fire to the flame of those that question institutionalized religion. However, in this case, I think I’d like to get this out with the hopes that some black man, within a particular age, will utilize this post as a reason to do better in reaching young black men.

There was a time when the core of the civil rights movement was centered around black men and women within religious faiths. They actively worked together, sacrificed their lives to band together and fight for causes that were threatening the livelihood of African American inclusion and success. After the majority of the Civil Rights leaders were assassinated or imprisoned the church continued to self sustain and align themselves with political influence. Turning a blind eye and deaf ear to a vital key to the success of our lineage moving forward. Black men. After the black panthers were no longer able to provide free breakfast, tutoring, and lunch programs to the youth due to systematic extinction; the church made their best move their next move.
Without going through a historical lesson plan, I’ll note that the surge in government assistance made it a challenge for black men to regain their footing. That, paired with false imprisonment, harsh jail sentencing, the VIETNAM war (veterans coming home with no work, and fresh heroin problems),  and COCAINE. Notice I didn’t say crack. That was deliberate. You’ll find that in most cases people believe that the destruction of our communities were based solely on the crack era, but how could crack become an epidemic if cocaine wasn’t romanticized in the disco era.

At this point I’m sure you’re thinking that I still haven’t adequately expressed my purpose for this title. I’ll continue. Although both black men and women were adversely impacted by the changes I previously mentioned; the men who SURVIVED those circumstances have moved into high positions in the church. If the black male attendees were not impacted by the previously listed circumstances, because they went to school, worked hard, and “kept their noses clean” they are even more arrogant when it comes to salvaging young black males. “ These kids just don’t listen.” “They are lazy”, “They are lost”.  These are the soundbites I’m sure we’ve all heard by black men. It definitely sucks to hear this from other races in regards to our black males, but it’s heartbreaking to hear these things from a black man who got “over”. It is also IMMOBILIZING. I would imagine it would make black men feel like, they don’t want to be anything like these men.

The core issue I find is, men in my age demographic find the church unfavorable for a few reasons:
  1. They do not feel welcomed.
  2. They feel like the men that are there don’t like to be challenged
  3. Black men in the church don’t like to answer faith based questions realistically
  4. Fundamentally they do not trust those black men. (Namely because these are the same men who left their mothers and aunties, who conquered their battles, and continue to judge the “next generation” of black men on their failures” )
  5. They are also very aware of the many churches who are victim to higher ranking members stealing from their aunties, mothers, and grandma’s within the church.
  6. The majority of the activities and programs within the church are for women.
  7. Men too have been sexually abused by men in the church. This is not a thing that is only exclusive to one specific christian category. The catholic church is not an outlier in this regard.
  8. The peaceful ideologies peddled within the Christian faith are hard to follow for educated black men whom are aware of the atrocities African Americans face. The anger is rarely addressed, just the solution to turn the other cheek. It's like asking men to forego natural instincts and pacify their natural unexplained urges.
  9. Additionally, I have witnessed the challenges that men face knowing that Christianity was a religion given to people of color as a result of slavery and global colonization. This is not an easy pill to swallow nor recover from.
Can you imagine, a place where strong black men are .. and yet young black male adults don’t feel safe there? I don’t mean safety on a domestic level, I mean safety on an emotional level. It’s maddening. You have all these women, who will happily sift through the bureaucracy every Sunday, to get to a message, typically being delivered by a black man, in a room full of women.

The BLACK LIVES MATTER movement did not start in the church. Presently, most movements geared towards abolishing oppression of our people are not created within the church. I actually read somewhere that the California sect of the BLM movement was critiqued by the black church because they weren’t asking for their assistance. How sad is this? Why isn’t the California sect of the BLM not being funded, and developed by the church?
You will find that churches, much like any other not for profit organization are heavily focused on their bottom line. I’d like to note that this doesn’t mean that the church doesn’t do an adequate job with clothing drives, homeless assistance, drug recovery, and a myriad of other services that they provide. BUT black men between the ages of 14- 45 are underrepresented, and under served. Much like they are under served in MOST AREAS in our nation.

I believe that black men, over 45 years of age, who have experienced ANY growth owe it to black men to do better. Wouldn’t it be more impactful to forge a line of successors, to ensure that we are better and stronger than we were before?  How can you drive to church, through the hood, past the liquor stores, and gentrified areas, and not feel personally OBLIGATED to make sure these boys feel safe and have KINGS to model after? I know for a fact that black men in this age group hate it that young black boys idolize local gang members, rappers, and professional athletes; but it’s easy to point it out and not improve it.

Older black men owe their boys an apology. I am not just talking about the ones who didn’t raise their children, or fell victim to drug use. I’m also talking about the ones who came home every day voiceless, feeding consignment gender standards to their boys; leaving them not ready or equipped to love a black woman fully. Not equipped to love themselves fully, to forge a new destiny for their people. YES I AM BLAMING YOU.  

Why because when it comes to leadership and imaging black women are well aware of our missteps and what we have to do to foster our communities, and we take care of what we can. A black man who loves GOD is a strong leader. It is a man equipped to lay his life down for his family and for his people. For the struggles that affect black people. Such men still exist. It is my hope that you are residing in the pews. Please retract your judgements and foregone conclusions on how things were for you, and take back your sons.

I’d like to note that there are quite a few religious organizations who do help our youth. HOWEVER, this is an emergency. Black men are now mentally enslaved, and if there are men in CHURCH who believe in the creator, who have walked through the fire and survived, shouldn’t you be GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY BEFORE THE BLOOD STAINS THE GROUND? Shouldn’t you want young men and boys to be emotionally available to the many black women who fill your churches? Shouldn’t they receive the same chances you did? Shouldn't the church be the safest place for them to ask their questions? If you love GOD, as you say, shouldn’t you love your sons just the same?  Go get them before it’s too late, and all of your hard work becomes folklore to a lost generation.

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  1. While I don't agree with half of what you've written, I definitely agree with the merit of men needing to be more present in the church. They definitely have their own hurdles to jump, and should feel like their church has their back.

    1. R. Alexandria I completely get it. It's not a one size fits all post. But you're right, in the end support is key.

  2. You are shaking the table with this post. I agree with a lot of it.

  3. Sometimes.. You have to for the conversation to get started! Thank you for your comments!


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