A high school football player was walking home from practice past the dog tracks where gamblers tried to beat the odds.
Through a fence, he saw his father, who had forgot to pick him up. Frustrated, he walked home, past prostitutes and drug addicts to discover the only things in the refrigerator were ice and water. The young boy angrily challenged God to prove he existed. The next day, a bolt of lightening appeared out of the clear blue sky and struck the boy, putting him in a life threatening coma for 4 days. It had hit him in the head, cracked his football helmet, entered the left frontal lobe of his brain and exited through both ankles. His football career was over, but his spiritual life and desire for knowledge was reborn. Getting struck by lightening was the best thing that ever happened to Dave because it connected him spiritually and gave him the intense desire to use the miracle of his life in a special way. David Caruth and I became close friends at Arizona State University. He continued on to earn his Ph.D and summarized his story in his autobiography “God’s Perfect Timing: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with Education and Faith.”
In honor of Black History Month, his column “Real Black Men Fight Poverty” is featured here as a guest blog.
By Dr. David Caruth
What ever happened to fighting poverty? I don’t mean the “War on Poverty” where illegal drugs and alcohol were pumped into poor communities, and resulted in addiction, crime, and economic collapse. I mean, what happened to the foundations and philanthropists that once cared about the poor? What happened to the black church, and successful African American men who took action to protect our neighborhoods and families? Have we all abandoned the poor, for the safety of living in up-scale neighborhoods? Or are we busy transforming our minds, so that we can be the change we seek?
We are living in a time where poverty, and the misery index are on the rise, and where killing black males is no longer news. In Washington DC, over 40 people have been murdered so far this year. That number represents a 75% increase in homicides over this time last year. The spike in murders, drug use, and poor education in our communities should outrage us. Are we not free to promote traditional family values, form our own associations, and have our view of the world accepted by the dominant culture?
When I was growing up, my mother taught me that finding a wife was a good thing. To prove it to me, she opened her Bible to Proverbs 31:10, which read: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” I read the following 21 verses, and it was hard to argue with her. However, Proverbs 31 doesn’t begin with verse 10. The first 9 verses were also instructive. Verse 9 states: “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Should we not be more concerned about the lives of the poor who cannot escape poverty, than we are with the opportunity for one gay football player to secure a high profile job?
She went on to teach me the value of a two-parent household, education, and hard work. She assured me, if I had those three family values, together with a measure of faith, I could escape the sure grip of poverty, and live a prosperous life. As Black men, we need to get beyond emotional sensationalism, and turn our individual successes, into a well-oiled movement, to solve chronic dangers in our communities.
On May 19, 2014, Jonathan Weisman published an article in The New York Times where he presented data on President Obama’s economic recovery. By his analysis, the Obama economic recovery has left behind young women and blacks. Perhaps there is a lesson here for young women and black men.
The time has come for Black men to rethink how we go about making positives changes in our communities, and in our lives. We need to redefine how we learn, and determine for ourselves, if the dominant society values our contributions to society. We need to ask ourselves if its O.K., to delay our efforts to save our women and children, because the media wants to celebrate one man’s chance to compete for a job in the National Football League. When you consider the source of your outrage, remember this, dead men can’t vote.