This book has many twists and turns regarding the plight of African-Americans in 21st century America. In the summary, a somewhat controversial proposal to combat violence in crime-laden areas of our nation is revealed. The diversity in America and the world is excellent. Individuals are learning and must continue learning to make adjustments in their lives. Yes, that single factor will make a difference in the communities of America. Further, all of the praise and glory is given to the Father in Heaven.
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UNDERSTANDING YOUR LIFE
Well, I will begin with the first concern, that of self, or personal rights and responsibilities regarding others, and particularly other African-Americans. Readers, yes it is hard living in America and is becoming more and more difficult each passing year. Allow me to deviate a moment as I inject a few news reports. It is hard living in certain parts of America, very, very hard. That situation is easily traced to their heritage as African-Americans. However, there is one common denominator about that status in this country. Truthfully, most African-Americans are considered to be less respected than the dominant race (white). This book, in contrast to the excellent one written by Kelly Brown Douglas (2015), titled, "Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God," is an attempt to provide personal in-depth views regarding African-Americans and the divisiveness that rests therein. I also explore how the so-called "have-nots" often dominate the overall banal label applied to all African-Americans. But there are exceptions to their concept that most of us are non-productive, and not working. In actuality, that group only applies to less than 10 percent!
Historically, we have always been the so-called, second class citizens because of laws, rules, regulations and overall prejudiced views promoted by the dominant race. Hundreds of years have passed since African-Americans arrived in America. But, has the race decided to quit the fight for equality? No, I don't think so! If the community would only surmise, if possible, how conditions were hundreds of years ago, probably a rude awakening would happen. We are alive in the 21st century because of the diligence and perseverance our fathers and mothers executed years and years in the past. Yes, killings took place, but most were master-slaves precipitated, and on occasions, there were slaves killing slaves. But because they were considered to be valuable properties, belonging to the masters, it was not encouraged.
In the perils of bondage African-Americans continued year-after-year with few reasons to express hope in their lives, but in spite of their dire conditions, most did not want to die. Even with hardships, trials, tribulations, and often promises of permanent slavery, they managed to maintain the desire to live, if for no other reason than the sake of their children. In addition, they were not considered American citizens. But they had hopes that many situations would significantly improve in later years.
"Christ will make his home in our hearts, through faith."
Ephesians 3-17 (REV)
It is almost impossible for the 21st century African-Americans to imagine those years and the kind of conditions, but there are museums and books, including media shows to remind them of those slavery conditions. This served to further verify that the suffering and hardship did exist. The elderly and their ancestors, were they alive, could provide a significant amount of information about those yesteryears.
I took the liberty to cite the prior because African-Americans need to become wiser and understand what it meant to be a slave. The current challenges are for them to reconcile the results and affects that it had on their present-day situations, if any. But can there be a correlation between what happened years and years in the past to what is transpiring in today's world regarding violence? That is a very difficult question to answer without adequate research pertaining thereto. What is happening in America, in the form of violence, is often the wrong way to achieve most positive results. Killings of innocent victims cannot and will not do anything to alter the affects slavery had on them. Further, what caused societal changes in the way African-Americans were treated and viewed by the dominant race was carefully crafted by men and women of distinction, who cared about what was to happen in the future toward the same. There were early heroes, that included people, if memory serves me correctly, as George Washington Carver, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Mary M. Bethune, Daniel Payne and Dorothy Height, to name a few. African-Americans, in the 21st century, tend to act as if those heroes of yesteryears labored in vain. They suffered and endured all kinds of humiliation so those that followed, would, and could be free to pursue life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and insure domestic tranquility; something that they never had, as stated in the constitution. Yes, I did use that kind of a quote when referencing "violence and African-Americans." Why destroy the past that was begun and built by others of similar color, who exhibited strength, and wisdom, and compassion for each other and those that followed? Do they not cherish life anymore? What about the lives of others? Everyone has the right to live and prosper, do they not? Do they have the authority and infinite power to take away the life of another regardless of the reason(s)? The chances are high that the existence of the person committing the violence is or will be doomed, along with the person killed. Such a tragedy! Who wins? Well, readers, there is no winner. There is not an individual on earth with the power to restore life, the next day, year, or ever again. We will never see them again. Why execute hardship, drama, sadness and grief for the families involved?
Yes, those yesteryears of slavery did have a significant influence on their lives. Today, the residual effects continue in some regards. Are they pleased with themselves? No! The stain of slavery remains in many regards. For example, the prosperity that the dominant class has versus those that are attributed to African-Americans is unmistakable, and can be attributed to slavery. Okay, there are many reasons that may justify the results, but this is not the chapter to discuss those issues. Later chapters will expound on some in some detail. Therefore, one may not have the riches of this world, but are African-Americans alive? Yes. Starving? No. Yes, all would like something better, but the dominant race had those restrictions in place long before African-Americans were so-called free, and unfortunately, the masses have chosen not to destroy their systems. That ensures a continuation of the same! The dominant race tends to be the "haves." But African-Americans should not allow them to dictate a feeling of subjugated thoughts about themselves. The systems have always been uneven, and the same is true today. But to allow the dominant race continued domain over their thoughts, feelings, and actions, should not continue to exist. Whatever course of action is necessary, should be investigated. They should decide what to do and have a plan of action to achieve whatever goals are set. Deciding the kind of representation in the form of individuals would show society that they are serious about overcoming the many vestiges that slavery has left. They need African-Americans who have worked to achieve greatness and are continuing to aspire, motivate and encourage each other to do the same. That does not mean exhibiting violent behaviors toward each other and society. The law-abiding African-Americans should be leading the parades for justice. They cannot expect alleged or convicted felons or those in illegal activities to carry the torch of democracy for the law- and-order African-Americans. That seems to be a pattern in the 21st century. They cannot get justice with so-called criminals leading the way! Sorry, but that is my contention. Those individuals are already jail-bound or recently released from prison. Furthermore, given a chance, you will become their next victim either via robberies, killings, assaults, etc. African-Americans should show some pride and dignity in pursuing their cause for freedom. Do not allow the dominant race to say who and where you are going regarding self-prosperity, other than higher and higher.
Now, the following discussion is somewhat sad for me to cite. That is, African-Americans self-destruction of each other, males, females, the elderly and children. Can we say that their attitudes toward violence and crime are the result of what the dominant race has managed to foster toward them over the years? Well, I will attempt to investigate those assumptions. I have read many books and or articles regarding their communities and the attempt to justify living, and particularly as it relates to a theological concept. It would not be proper if the mention of religion and African-Americans were not intertwined. In addition, the contemporary dominant race (Caucasian) issues continue to manifest themselves, and their views on critical issues dealing with race, and the African-Americans status in America. Has God forsaken them, or was He not there from the beginning? Those are vital issues that will lead into the next chapter.
CRITICAL ISSUES FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN AND WOMEN: FAITH AND RACISM
I will make a brief attempt to address the faith and racism issues in this chapter. Please pardon me, as the readers are about to be reintroduced to a historical version of African-Americans belief system and how it is directly related to their faith in God. From that perspective, most of their religious teachings were biblically conveyed by the dominant race (Caucasians) at that time. Those kinds of instructions were time sensitive, encompassing hundreds of years before the 21st century. Most individuals in America were then, and are now Christians, and most utilized the Christian Bible (King James Version). King James was available to employ others, scribes, scholars, etc., to translate the Bible. But who took credit in the form of a name affixed to the Bible? Yes, you guessed, King James. Furthermore, the Bible, which is composed of scriptures, was to have been inspired by God, through visions, spiritual utterances, etc. Now, most have heard that it was written by God and full of his utterances. Only a person with limited understanding would conclude that God wrote everything in the King James Version of The Holy Bible!
Having read a significant portion of the life and works of King James has created an ongoing inquiry into the kinds of biblical translations and thoughts used. According to Fraser (1994), he was quite emotionally disturbed during his formative years. In 1589, he crossed the seas from Norway to secure Anne of Denmark to be his wife. The marriage began well, according to Fraser (1994), and produced several children, of which two were sons, Henry, Charles, and a daughter Elizabeth. Before this writing, I was aware that there was a difference in being inspired by the Holy Spirit (God), and being a King, appointed at birth. Therefore, how could the revisions or translations is attributed to the Holy Father? While reading the information purported by Fraser (1994), in The Court and Character of King James, it showed that he oversaw the translation of the King James Bible. Kind of interesting readers! What do you think about my research on the prior?
Well, I have presented a brief summary of King James, who is reported responsible for getting the Bible translated. There are many other translations, but this one was adapted by Christians in America for usage. It may be difficult for many African-American Christians to believe some of their translations. Many tend to think that valuable texts are missing. Purposely? If so, why?
Now, I will return to African-Americans and their concern for religious thinking and the acceptance of God in their lives. From the time they arrived in the New World, religion was an important part of their lives. They brought aspects of religion with them and their so-called masters could not and did not understand. In later years, after they had assimilated the slaves into their way of thinking, and so-called culture, some slaves were allowed to explain to the masters their meanings, and what was going on when they were celebrating, and dancing. Once the masters felt comfortable and had a reasonable understanding of what they were doing, many were taught a different language, and with it came their representation of God. Many hundreds of years have passed, and now, African-Americans have, and are aware of several Gods, from Jesus to Buddha. The worship of various Gods has always been known. The slaves with their Gods from their country and the dominant race (white) with their God. These are also apparent in that African-Americans (now), but slaves (hundreds of years ago), were separate and not equal. This practice has continued for hundreds of years and is omnipresent today.
It has been my view for many years that racism is what should be called, "learned behavior." Babies are not born with knowledge of who they are and from whence they came. Therefore, for them to develop from infancy to adulthood, most knowledge must be learned. What kind of teaching and by who often determines, to a great deal, what happens and the kind of thought processes are present. Therefore, my contention is that most, if not all, can be called prejudiced. How? Numerous environmental factors can influence overall attitudes. For example, African-Americans may tend to be prejudiced toward one or several racial groups. Why is it often a convoluted rationale? They may not like certain behaviors often associated with Mexicans people, who in term, may not like Caucasians, for whatever reasons exist. Furthermore, the Japanese may not like Chinese, and others, for whatever the reasons associated in addition to that. In essence, we are all prejudice to various degrees. For a moment, I will take a closer look at racism and see what the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2016), has to say regarding a definition of the term. As a noun, racism is defined as "hatred or intolerance by another race or other races," or "the belief that some races are inherently superior (physically, intellectually, or culturally) to others, and they have a right to dominate them." How to change racial patterns of the different ethnic groups is an incredibly complex task. Individual ethnicity groups, in the 21st century, have begun to engage in group sessions of diversity people meetings, to bring forth dialogue for easing and understanding each other in America. Mind you, eradication of racism is not going to happen overnight, but little by little, progress can be made toward, hopefully, removing hatred and other stigmas associated thereto.
It is often evident here in America that racism, particularly by whites against blacks, has created profound racial tension and conflict in virtually all aspects of American society. It wasn't until the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that some vestiges of white domination over blacks were removed. However, it was not supported by all branches and levels of government. "Denying Blacks their civil rights and opportunities to participate in political, economic, and social communities became a definite struggle for them and other minorities." (U.S. Census Bureau, 201, 2010).
In the 21st century, although it has never gone away, the old evil phrase has risen again in various areas of our society. That phrase would be, "whatever the master says is right." Of course, that can be viewed in many different ways. However, my concern deals primarily with many "law enforcement" practices of the men and women sworn to "protect and serve." I will not cite the already known racial incidents that have occurred throughout various communities, thereby, gaining attention locally and eventually nationally, in this country. The racial complexities that have become important in the lives of Americans cannot be resolved by enacting a policy or laws to prevent such atrocities of one group toward another, regardless of the ethnicities involved. I have seen and experienced situations that would cause serious problems for young African-Americans. For example, the thought of having been turned away by the dominant race for wanting and deciding to sit at lunch counters. In many instances, the same law enforcement personnel, sworn to "protect and serve," were responsible for the abusiveness that happened. Mind you, there were laws and policies to protect them in their endeavors, against what I will now label as "minorities."
Yes, blacks were fortunate to have any rights, compared to those of the dominant race (Caucasian). How did they survive those kinds of discriminative actions? The times before my birth are defined through emotional accounts, as being worse. Imagine how my father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., managed to survive through the worse conditions of discrimination that were possible? Further, compared to situations in the 21st century, involving minorities and law enforcement personnel, with those of past decades, they would be unmentionable.
Excerpted from "When African-Americans Stop The Violence: Hallelujah!"
Copyright © 2017 C. Samuel Johnson, II.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
1 Understanding Your Life, 1,
2 Critical Issues for African-American Men and Women: Faith and Racism, 9,
3 Why Are African-Americans Killing each other, If Black Lives Matter?, 21,
4 A Recipe for Hope and Understanding, 35,
5 Related Research Perspectives, 41,
6 Face the Facts, 61,
7 Personal Perspectives, 71,
8 Summary, 81,