Black Lives and the Death of a Culture

From Alvin Ailey's ballet Revelations

From Alvin Ailey's ballet Revelations


“Black lives matter!” say the angry T-shirts and the sloppy signs.

My first reaction to that statement is, “Okay. Sure.” And then they start chanting about killing cops and my brow furrows. What?!  And then comes the “hundreds of blacks are killed by cops every year!” and I wonder who’s feeding these angry folks this kind of nonsense. But I’ve been putting some things together lately and I’m finding a glimmer of understanding.

This isn’t about cops. It isn’t even just about race – though our administration would like it to be. The media would like that too, as would the leftist college professors. They would like for it to be all about the nastiness of white America, conservative America. But it’s not about that. It’s about policy that has decimated an entire culture, made it rot from the inside out. It is about policy that was birthed in the Democrat party, in the hearts of those who value power above all else. It is no wonder that these young people are angry.

I remember a time when I saw our black population as a strong, long-suffering, admirable people who seemed able to carry both their towering dignity and their poverty with the same graceful walk. They wove African rhythms in and out of the Psalms, they turned those same rhythms into jazz, and the blues, and rock and roll. They infused our sports arenas with a skill and strength previously unimagined. Their pastors gave rousing, encouraging, commiserating sermons while those indomitable black women murmured “Amen, brother,” and flipped their paper fans in the air. Those same women often kept house and cooked for white women and then for their own families as well. They peopled our literature –Calpurnia and Tom Robinson, Alibeline, and Virgil Tibbs, and Jim on that raft on the Mississippi. They danced – Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey – two of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century gave us movement of unbelievable beauty and power. Black American culture had been forged in terrible suffering and had become something to be proud of, to be in awe of.  

Where is that culture today? Jazz has sunk into the angry, obscenities of hiphop. Those indomitable women, overwhelmed now by the humiliation of official, bureaucratic poverty, are now often junkies. Too many of the pastors scream anti-American, Marxist blather instead of teaching the encouragement of the Word. Black inner city fathers barely exist – just males who serve as studs for their stable of baby mammas. Black babies are aborted more often than any other group (blacks are 12% of the population, but 78% of aborted babies are black)– is black life in 21st century America that hopeless? It must be. Let’s look at what has happened in the last 50 years:

On the plus side – the Civil Rights Movement jerked parts of the south up into the 20th century and put a stop to a lot of the Democrat-led segregation and discrimination. But that’s where it ends.

Forced bussing, which was to equalize education, had little effect on the quality of schooling offered to black children. It mostly disrupted communities, put those black children at risk, and watered down everyone’s schooling – schools became hubs of social experimentation and ceased their role as centers of learning. This left our inner-city kids – mostly black and Hispanic – without a solid rung up. Education is the only door out of the ghettos and anti-charter school, anti-school voucher groups, and teachers’ unions have locked those doors tight. Now California is going to “solve” the problem by just giving failed kids their diplomas, never mind the fact that they can’t pass the 8thgrade level exit exams.

Johnson’s War on Poverty, which sounded like a noble thing to wage war on, became a war on impoverished families, on the basic building blocks of inner city civilization. It offered aide primarily to mothers with dependent children. If a father was in the home, no benefits were provided. This policy made it profitable for the father not to be part of the home. So black mothers were left to raise their children alone – without even a decent school to send them to.

So here are black mothers being paid to bear more illegitimate children, unable to get of the dole once the babies arrived, unable to control their male children, who could see no place for themselves in their communities. These young men have no education, no skills, no vision for what they might become, so they sell dope, join gangs to fill the fatherless hole in their souls, and treat their women with the same disdain they feel for their own feckless selves. Even if they could function in a good job, there aren’t any in their neighborhoods. Union corruption and liberal policies have destroyed the cities where their ancestors once made good money. Inner city unemployment numbers for young black men hover around 50%. They have nothing to do but hang around on street corners and pretend to be manly. They arm themselves with nine-millimeter pistols and have no idea how to deal with the male authority the police officers represent.

Add to that the legalization and government support of abortion. Planned Parenthood, under the guise of helping poor black women get control over the number of children they brought into their poverty, worked against the only means these women had of earning a living – bearing children. It targeted black women as part of the eugenics goal of ridding the world of people of color, and it appears to be working; more blacks abort their babies than any other ethnic group – over 60% of black pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. We’re looking at self-inflicted genocide, at a culture that is self-destructing.

Do black lives matter? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the governmental policies that have been in place since the Civil Rights Movement. No policy since then has done anything but make black lives worse. Affirmative Action, Aid to Dependent Children, food stamps, welfare. OK. These programs have allowed for the accumulation of TV’s and cars and microwaves and AC. But those things don’t give a person purpose or a sense of self-worth, a hope for the future.

Are these young people angry because white cops are mowing them down willy-nilly? No – because that isn’t happening. Are they starving? No – EBT cards allow them the same diet the rest of have and they don’t even have to work.

But there’s the rub. Work provides much more than a living – at least it used to. Work can provide a goal, a hope, a possibility. You can feed a body with food, but a soul requires a more esoteric diet. It requires actual achievement, actual struggle to arrive at that success. It requires self-understanding and respect. It requires reason – things have to make sense. And it requires truth.

These angry young people have had none of that. The only thing they’ve learned in their schools is what sad, unfortunate, mistreated people they are. No one expects anything from them, which sends the message that they are incapable of anything, and, on top of that, they know little about how to cope with a teacher’s authority.  How can they possibly find their future? They don’t have one.

These kids are out of line, burning their own neighborhoods, killing each other and the police who try to protect them, but their behavior is almost inevitable – not forgivable, just inevitable. Liberal policy has backed them into a corner where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Yes, they are thugs. Yes, they are venial enough to take George Soros’ money to torch their own neighborhoods. Yes, they are angry with the cops for all the wrong reasons.

But. Black lives do matter -- and it not only matters that they stay alive, but that they be able to reach the potential God gave them.  These stifled, wasted black lives are proof that what we’ve been doing has ruined their chance for fulfillment. Liberal policy has left them so profoundly angry, so emotionally, morally, and mentally damaged that their rage may destroy what little social order still exists.

If we just recoil in anger and fail to face what we – all of us, blacks included – have done, this will never get better.