Have Blacks Lost Their Spirit for Social Activism?
Issues Blacks face today include unemployment, health disparities, mass incarceration, education declines, voting hurdles, gun violence and the deterioration of the Black family among many others. These issues matter to African-Americans, however many would argue that very little action is taken on these issues or if an outcry does occur, the passion soon fades.
Have Blacks lost their spirit for social activism? Have Blacks forgotten how to come together to affect change?
Dr. Derek B. King Sr., a professor at Martin University and nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Rev. Thomas L. Brown, son of local civil rights activist Dr. Andrew J. Brown and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church; and Barbara Bolling, a member of the national board of directors and the Indiana State President of the NAACP, give their thoughts.
The Black church has changed
King believes that Blacks have lost their spirit for social activism for several reasons. He says that during the civil rights movement, issues of racism were clear and victories that were won because of the movement caused people to believe âthe fightâ was over.
Most importantly he believes the Black church has changed.
âThe messaging has changed. There are some Black pastors who try to keep their congregants aware of issues that affect Blacks disproportionately. But the majority of the messaging coming out of the Black church does not speak to systemic challenges,â said King.
âOne of the people who was well respected in the Black community was pastors. Much of the messaging that comes out of Black pulpits today is prosperity preachingâŠget paidâŠget your breakthrough. When we talk about things that affect Blacks, weâve fallen asleep behind the wheel.â
Despite his strong opinion, he said there is considerable concern in the Black community about homicide rates, however there is a laundry list of important issues that Blacks are either unaware of or donât care about.
âWeâve gotten selfish. If it doesnât affect me, itâs not my problem. During the civil rights movement, it didnât matter how much money you had or how much education you had, Blacks in the south sat on the back of the bus. Up until 1965 Blacks in America could not vote. These issues affected all Blacks,â he said.
âUnless it affects a measurable population of Blacks, we will raise our voices and take some sort of action, but generally, (we have the attitude of) âif it doesnât affect me, itâs not my problem.ââ
Apathy has increased
Brown agrees with King and says that Blacks have lost their social activism because theyâve lost their spiritual activism.
âWe have become lazy and apathetic. Our religion has become part of the secular movement and not the spiritual movement,â said Brown. âOur Black church is about religion, not spirituality.â
He also echoes Kingâs sentiments on rampant selfishness in the Black community.
At 70-years-old, Brown not only actively demonstrated during the civil rights movement, but his father, Rev. Andrew J. Brown was a local leader fighting for justice. Brown has also sat amongst noted Black leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and even Malcolm X.