04 Karl merrittI find it more and more difficult to be hopeful regarding the future of America, this country that I love. Despite so many positive indicators, such as low unemployment, high consumer confidence, a booming economy and stock market, a greatly diminished nuclear threat from North Korea, a stand against other countries exploiting us in trade, and the list goes on, there are those among us who seem determined to drive the country toward collapse. Alarmingly, they seem to be making progress.

The situation described above is more than sufficient to challenge my ongoing quest for hope. However, added to this is my deep sadness and concern as I watch the dismantling of what was once a strong, close-knit, self-sufficient black population in America. That condition has become a treasured memory from many years ago. Even more distressing and hope-defeating is how we have come to this extremely low point against the backdrop of a proud history of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

The prevailing mode of operation from the black community has become one of calling on others to fix all that adversely affects us, and when that is not done, the claim is racism coupled with the constant contention that we are being denied the financial and other support to which we are entitled. I say “prevailing” because there are some of us who do not adhere to this mode of operation.

What should be viewed as frightening is how we transitioned from that strong, close-knit, self-sufficient community to the mode of operation reflected in the preceding paragraph. It was the result of thought manipulation. There has been an ongoing effort by many in this country to convince black Americans that we are victims of white America – of the wealthy – and that racism lurks around every corner. If one accepts that argument, it opens them to processing every decision in the framework of those beliefs. Doing so opens one up to having their thoughts controlled by anyone who understands how to present issues and make promises in a manner that is acceptable to, and supportive of, that way of thinking. In summary, a particular mindset is formed in people by others who then manipulate thought by sending messages that drive people to actions that benefit the controllers of thought. 

This manipulative process is rampant across America. A recent case-in-point is how the Florida governor’s race started. The candidates are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Gillum is black and a Democrat, while DeSantis is white and a Republican. Gillum’s website states he “would focus on making college debt free and encouraging businesses to share responsibility for educating the workforce they want to hire.” He also supports Medicare for all and contends that access to healthcare is a right. He calls for a $15-per-hour minimum wage and wants to raise Florida’s corporate tax rate to pay for his state-level initiatives. 

Some refer to Gillum as a socialist. Others rebut that label by saying he does not fit the precise definition. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” At present, Gillum’s aims might not fit the pure definition of socialism, but they do have undertones of it. That is, he is pursuing greater governmental administration of critical economic elements, such as healthcare and funding of college education. 

With that bit of context in place, consider the following segments from an article by Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press, titled “Florida governor’s race turns ugly in aftermath of primary.”

“Racism immediately became an issue in the Florida governor’s race Wednesday as both nominees made predictions: The Democrat said voters aren’t looking for a misogynist, racist or bigot, while the Republican said voters shouldn’t ‘monkey this up’ by choosing his African-American opponent.

“Meanwhile, on Fox News, DeSantis called Gillum an ‘articulate’ candidate, but said ‘the last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting this state. That is not going to work. It’s not going to be good for Florida.’

“Democrats immediately decried DeSantis’ comment as racist.

“’That was more than a dog-whistle,’” said U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat. ‘That was absolutely a racist, disgusting statement. I don’t think there’s any other way to interpret it.’”

Note that in the first segment, Farrington did not quote “by choosing his African-American opponent.” Those are the words of the writer. The second segment reflects exactly what DeSantis said and includes nothing regarding Gillum’s race. What is reflected in Farrington’s article is a prime example of the mode of operation for manipulating black thought, which was explained earlier. There is the conditioning to have one’s thoughts and decisions driven by racial considerations. With that piece in place, messages such as the one presented above are regularly deposited in this fertile soil.

As I have watched this process prove successful across the years, my hope for a rebound to independent thinking on the part of so many people caught in this cycle has constantly declined. 

Then came the eulogy that Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., senior pastor of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, Georgia, recently did for Aretha Franklin, one of the great singing voices of any era. Rev. Williams addressed some issues and made statements that I knew would bring volleys of negative responses. Consider these segments from an Associated Press article titled “Old-school eulogy at Aretha Franklin funeral ignites wrath.”

“He also blamed integration and the civil rights movement for ripping the heart out of black micro-economies that once relied on black-owned small businesses such as grocery stores, hotels and banks.

“As for black women, he preached that ‘as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do, a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.’

“Williams described as ‘abortion after birth’ the idea of children being raised without a ‘provider’ father and a mother as the ‘nurturer.’

“He negated the Black Lives Matter movement altogether in light of black-on-black crime, falling back on a rhyming pattern of yore: ‘It amazes me how it is when the police kills one of us we’re ready to protest, march, destroy innocent property,’ Williams began. ‘We’re ready to loot, steal whatever we want, but when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything, nobody does anything. Black-on-black crime, we’re all doing time, we’re locked up in our mind, there’s got to be a better way, we must stop this today.’”

Initially, I was seeing, on social media and in various articles, overwhelming condemnation of Williams’ eulogy. The comments said he demonstrated misogyny, bigotry, lack of proper consideration for the occasion and broke Franklin’s trust. This list could go on. Sprinkled in with all the opposing views were many (far more than I would have expected) comments in support of the pastor. I even saw supportive Facebook posts from black individuals who, given their social and political stance, I never would have expected them to see Williams’ comments as necessary or true. 

Mary J. wrote the following in response to a blog post by Jacqueline J. Holness titled “Seven Reasons Why I Approve of The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s Eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s Funeral.”

“It’s never a right time to speak words that the masses don’t want to hear. But based on history shared with me by my black family, our churches were once the first place you heard truth whether you liked it or not. Change rarely grows out of comfort and status quo. You must shake things up and dare I say, Pastor Williams really caused quite a stir.”

Maybe, just maybe, there is hope.

Photo: Aretha Franklin

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