Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”


What is the Number One Crises in the Black Community?

The black communities live in a state of crises. It is a wonder or to the glory of God, we have been able to make the progress that we have made. Sometimes when I am tempted to despair, as I study the conditions of our people, I remember where we were, the enemies that we have had to face, and then hope and gratitude returns. I am convinced that we as a people would have been annihilated or in a far worse state than we are, had not God been on our side.

I know that there are those who question the Thanksgiving season or who believe that to recognize or participate in traditional thanksgiving exercises are dismissing or treating lightly the bloody history of Thanksgiving as it relate to Native Americans. Without trying to address the criticisms, I believe that everyday should be an occasion for thanksgiving. However, it does help to reinforce daily practices when there is an annual or periodic time where there is a greater concentration upon the daily practice. There is a Scriptural reference, which says, “In all things give thanks.” Granted that some people may think it is impossible to achieve, others do not even try, still others may think it is stupid or illogical to try to be thankful in a time of crises. Still most would agree that while the crises is real but an internal crisis can be avoided with an attitude of gratitude. We may not be able to stop a crisis or change crises, but what we think about the crises will influence our internal state of being.

With the above consideration, I want to discuss what I believe to be the major crises in our community. I know that there are those who would argue that violence, internal and racist violence, occupies the top place. Others would argue that it is substance abuse, others would put it in economic terms, and others would say AIDS. There are those who would say incarceration, and still others would point to natural disasters, etc. Still others would put the emphases on racism in it various manifestations. While all of the above are serious, but I believe the #1 crisis is health related. A long time ago, I remember a very rich man in our community; in fact, the rumor was he owned everything in the block, including the poolroom. Repeatedly, he would say, “I would give every penny if I could buy my health back.” He was a very sick man. If you want to know, what we lead in, it is sickness. And while I am sure, there are those who would agree on the importance of health, even if they would not put it at the top. Yet, it is the crises that we seem to give least attention.

This morning, as I write this article, I conversed with a man who is going into the hospital tomorrow. It is for a prostate operation. He said, “We need to take care of ourselves. I gave greater attention to my dogs than myself. I felt alright, but when I went in for a test, they discovered I had prostate problems.” I have watched, and I know we all have, people taking greater care of their cars than their bodies and minds. People will put anything in their stomachs and minds, and will put only premium gas in their cars. I have seen people eating health-destroying sandwiches while polishing their cars and checking beneath the hood. They want to make sure that their cars are “looking good and running good.” While their bodies and minds are deteriorating.

Someone has said that if we do not address our health crises, when we arrive at the promise land it will be on crutches or in ambulances or on some life-saving machine. We will not be able to celebrate our liberation the way the Hebrew Israelites did when they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt according to the Bible.

In 2005, in conjunction with the Million More Movement, I walked from Brooklyn to New York. (I was interrupted by Katrina and devoted a week to addressing that crises.) I wanted to call attention to the crises of health in our community. I was 75 years old when I made the walk. I remember a conversation that I had with Minister Louis Farrakhan. I conveyed to him my intentions to make the walk and my concern for the state of health in our community, in particular, but in America in general. He almost came out of his chair as he exclaimed, “If you do that at 75, it would deliver a powerful challenge to our people and I will surely help. I will put it on satellite.” When there is a discussion regarding health, it is generally made a governmental or corporate responsibility. Surely, government and corporations should be held accountable for their actions or non-action. There is a governmental responsibility to protect the people and to promote programs and policies that make for health and corporate American should be held accountable for its responsibility to participate with government in promoting practices to effectuate optimum health. However, it should be emphasized, we have an individual obligation to take care of ourselves.

With that bit of background, I want to sound a note of urgency regarding two relatively recent health related developments:

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or “The Super Bug”

As if we did not have enough super challenges, now we have the challenge of a “Super Bug.” This super bug, a bacteria, is a devious, persistence fighter. It has developed the capacity to survive former penicillin shots. I am almost tempted to reflect on nature or God as giving every living thing intelligence. Thus enabling the survival of living creatures. Some of us remember Charles Darwin’s theory - Survival of the Fittest. This was done according to Darwin, paradoxically to ensure life at its highest quality. I say paradoxically, because one would think that with the death or the removal of certain elements of life, it would weaken life. But, this is not the state of the case. In some sense, it is similar to cutting away branches on a rose bush to get better roses. So we, homosapiens (thinking creatures), having developed the highest intelligence, must live with competitors or adversaries who too want to survival.

Now we must take heed to ourselves to protect ourselves against the super bug, while our scientists find another way to outsmart these invisible enemies.

The Timbuktu Learning Center, in its weekly forums, has had one (1) workshop on the Super Bug. Another is scheduled for Thursday, November 29, 2007 from 7pm to 9pm. You should plan to be there. In the meanwhile, become informed regarding MRSA. Wash your hands often. Stay home if you are ill. Shun, as best that you can, people and places where the bug maybe operating.

To be continued next week…

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