The Congressional Black Caucus "For The People Job Initiative” has been a spectacle and a revelation. The revelation is the depth and breadth of desperation over the disproportionate impact of the nation’s unemployment crisis on the black community.
Mere numbers don’t do justice to the images of black audiences at town hall meetings demanding to know when President Obama, the leader in which they placed their hopes, is going to rescue them, or CBC members asking permission from these audiences to be more critical of him for not being more focused on their plight.
The lines of people outside of CBC-sponsored job fairs, perhaps the most practical thing that body of elected officials has done in years, are heartbreaking.
The spectacle is the CBC’s continued addiction to racial demagoguery, which has paid off handsomely for them but done absolutely nothing for their constituents but feed their bitterness and rage.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), perhaps a little taken aback by her own statements requesting license to hold President Obama accountable for his inaction, hurled chunks of red meat to an audience ravenous for hate by stating “the Tea Party can go straight to hell…and I intend to help them get there.”
We’ll set aside the observation that her offer of assistance to help us get to Hell suggests she knows the way.
Since original thinking is a hallmark of the CBC, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), she of the large and gaudy headwear, listed racism as the first of several factors that explain the higher black unemployment figures, and at a subsequent town hall meeting, she said:
Let us all remember who the real enemy is… the real enemy is the Tea Party… the Tea Party holds the Congress hostage.
Upon reading this, one of my dear friends from Texas, commenting on the enormous red cowboy hat Rep. Wilson was sporting, reminded me of a saying I learned during my college years in the Lone Star State – “All hat and no cattle.”
Of note, Rep. Waters and the Reverend Jesse Jackson were in the audience when she made her comments, and I’m sure they approved. Just days before, Rev. Jackson made an incredible claim that, upon reflection, encapsulates the single biggest reason for the woes of the black community and their hostility toward the Tea Party movement, which in its demographics is as mainstream and non-threatening as a Norman Rockwell painting:
Big Government is us by another name.
Sadly, this statement doesn’t surprise me in the least. The belief in government as our salvation is engrained in the black community. It was government that freed us from slavery, and it was government that ended legal discrimination. The calls by the Tea Party for limited government, individual responsibility, and a return to federalism, are anathema to blacks who think government is the only source of power we have, and that individuals and states have historically proven to be untrustworthy when it comes to defending minority rights.
Never mind that it was also government that instituted and enforced slavery and Jim Crow laws to begin with – yes, even the federal government discriminated against blacks - and it took the moral indignation of the abolitionist movement, a civil war, and a civil rights movement to compel government to act on our behalf.
Moreover, the logic somehow escapes the millions of blacks represented by members of the CBC, majority black county councils, black mayors, and a black President, that having people that look like us in positions of governmental authority has done nothing for our well-being, while it has done wonders for the well-being of those in power. Take a close look at the lifestyles of black politicians and their families compared to their constituents. To quote Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be the king.”
It matters not, apparently. Generally speaking, when white people figure out that their public servants are ripping them off, they fire them. Black people reelect them by landslides.
That is why, when it comes to advocates of smaller government, black politicians, pundits and preachers fling charges of racism about with impunity, and their target audiences lap them up. In effect, government has become an object of worship, and its opponents apostates.
Another Texan and long-time friend from my college days responded on my Facebook page to all of these charges and threats of eternal damnation:
As hard as we as a nation Run away from Racism and to have a Congresswoman keep throwing back to the forefront-when will the debt be paid???
I’m sure the members of the CBC would tell my friend he can’t run away from who he is. They don’t care who they offend, as long as their constituents keep reelecting them to the lifestyles to which they’ve become accustomed.
I catch his meaning, however. When white America elected a black president, they also believed they’d signed a contract absolving them of any further guilt for the sins of the past.
They bypassed the former first lady and her husband, the former president, and an aging war hero whose “turn” had come, to elect as the most powerful leader in the world a community organizer and state senator with only four years of exposure on the national stage, and less than three years in the U.S. Senate. What more could they do to demonstrate that race was no longer a discriminator for them?
To this day, I remain convinced that a white candidate with a similarly thin resume, murky past, and associations with dubious characters would have been subjected to withering scrutiny and never seen the inside of the Democratic National Convention except as a a spectator.
To be blunt, Barack Obama was polished and conciliatory enough for white voters and black enough for black voters. Harry Reid and Joe Biden expressed what many voters felt as they pulled the lever, punched the card, tapped the touchscreen or marked the ballot - "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one, and "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Reporters, black and white, began gushing about the “post-racial” era in America.
Such giddy proclamations ignored the one indisputable fact that goes to the heart of my friend’s question – “When will the debt be paid?”
Racism is a sin. And all men are sinners.
Government can’t pay the debt. It can institute laws and enforce them, but it can’t change the hearts of men, and it can’t make black people love white people, or vice versa. It can’t take away the pride that causes men to think themselves superior to others who don’t look like them, and it can’t resolve the anger that men bear in their hearts for past or present wrongs, real or perceived. It can't take away the hubris of people who abuse their positions of trust by turning them into platforms for demagoguery. It can't make us humble.
The institutional church cannot pay the debt. The churches that actually preach the gospel of salvation are few and far between.
The intractable sin nature of man is replaced by the mantra that we are all inherently good, the impossibility of eternal life without a savior is replaced by multiple pathways to heaven, and the implication that we each have the ability to earn our way there, and the cost of sin is brushed aside in favor of the Rob Bell school of thought, which seeks to elevate God’s mercy at the expense of God’s judgment when both are essential to His nature, and both apply to us.
After all, if there is no judgment, no price to pay for our sins, or if we can save ourselves through good works, then we don’t need God or His mercy.
No, the only way this debt can be paid is through individual repentance and forgiveness. Those of us who call ourselves Christians should know this, since we repented of our sins, asked for Christ's forgiveness, which He granted us through His sacrifice on the cross, and accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.
Our gratitude for His payment of our debt, which we could never have paid on our own, is expressed in our obedience, and we are commanded to forgive as we have been forgiven. We are also warned in Matthew 6:15, "But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Does Rep. Waters promise to escort Tea Party people to Hell meet that standard?
Does Rep. Wilson's declaration that Tea Party people are the enemy measure up?
How about Rev. Jackson's barely coherent rants about the Tea Party re-fighting the Civil War and being "a toxic wind" over our nation?
God expects more of our leaders, declaring that "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)."
That is why in my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom's Porch, I conclude with a call for forgiveness as the ultimate solution to the racial divide in America:
My faith helps me to understand true forgiveness. We could never perform enough good deeds or show enough contrition to fully cleanse ourselves of sin. Therefore, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us.
He said, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
Of course, God knows everything and is not erasing our sins from His divine memory. His commitment to us is that He will receive us as if He has no memory of our sins: “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
That kind of mercy, even if directed at those who do not believe they’ve done anything for which they require it, is potent. It frees blacks and whites from centuries of baggage based on race and it gives us an opportunity to move forward together with hope.
St. Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Contrary to Rep. Waters' statement, the path to salvation for the black community in America has nothing to do with marching Tea Party people to Hell.
My cynicism tells me that she and others of her ilk are too invested in the world of politics, privilege and power to embrace reconciliation through forgiveness. That path, however, leads to the throne of grace, where the debt my friend spoke of so desperately can finally be paid.
And I'd be happy to help her get there.