by Catherine Davis, Director of Minority Outreach
October 15, 2009
In a meeting recently, one of the speakers noted that the murder of Emmett Till gave face to the Civil Rights movement in the US. So when I saw a copy of a DVD about Emmett, I purchased it. I have watched the Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till five times. There were things in the documentary that I did not know or had not heard. I did not know and had not heard that there were two black men alleged to have held Emmett on the truck while his murderers drove him to the spot where he was killed. It was later reported one of them was seen washing Emmett’s blood out of the truck, claiming it was deer blood. The second man, who claimed he was not there, recounted the events of that ugly night using the same words that the murderers gave in their Look Magazine confession, almost verbatim. He was the only black person noted to have given this version of the events of that night.
Similar expressions of betrayal in the black community continue today. And, depending on who is making the argument, the betrayal can take a number of forms. Just this week several pastors expressed their outrage and concern when a leading Bishop of one of the largest black denominations in America endorsed the President’s health care bill. This Bishop claims a belief in the sanctity of life yet the bill he endorsed has an amendment that expressly calls for public funding of abortion. In response, a pastor of that denomination immediately called the prolife pastors Uncle Toms and Republican brown nosers. This labeling was despite the fact that many of the pastors expressing their concerns were Independents and Democrats.
At a time when the black community is experiencing some of the most horrific problems of our lives, we find the community is fractured and crumbling because of racial and political game playing. A frightening trend has emerged and if it is not checked may mean the complete destruction of a people. That trend is one that forbids criticism of a black Democrat, no matter how detrimental their politics and policies may be. If I were to criticize the President for his policies that I perceive as deadly to the black community, for example, I too would be labeled an Uncle Tom, and in some circles, may be harmed physically.
Over the last forty five years, there has been little if any improvement in the conditions blacks face. In fact, some would argue that since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964things have worsened considerably. Despite having a large contingent of political representatives at every level of local, state and federal government, blacks face daunting numbers when considering healthcare, crime, education, incarceration and employment to name a few. Diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, hypertension and a host of other diseases run rampant. Blacks are disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders according to the Department of Justice (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm).
Nationally, over forty seven percent of our black youth drop, out of school (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/18/bia.saving.desmond/index.html) and among black men, the dropout rate soars to over fifty percent (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/20/national/20blackmen.html?_r=2).
Forty eight percent of our teenagers have sexually transmitted diseases (http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/04/black-teen-std.html).
In the twenty five states with large black populations, 24-77% of those incarcerated are black (http://www.gibbsmagazine.com/blacks_in_prisons.htm).
Unemployment for blacks topped 15% in September (http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm). And these numbers are just a tip of the iceberg of all the problems facing the black community in America today.
I attended a church service in 2008 where chiefs, tribal leaders, and ministers from every tribe in Africa that sold blacks into slavery were in attendance. They had come to repent to American blacks for the betrayal their ancestors had perpetrated because of greed, selfishness and jealousy. I wonder if any of us have the fortitude to repent for our betrayals.
In the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 22, verse 30 it says God looked for someone to stand in the gap. But He could not find one. Contrary to the common belief of some about Uncle Tom, he did not betray his people. Uncle Tom stood in the gap for Eliza. He refused to betray her to the evil Simon Legree. Unlike Uncle Tom, the two men in the Emmett Till case were unwilling to die to keep Emmett alive. They betrayed him unto his death and to this day have not been brought to justice. Unlike Uncle Tom, some pastors will celebrate a leader that chooses political rather than moral/Godly stands. The pastors who spoke up against the endorsement of the President’s bill are indeed Uncle Toms. I applaud their willingness to stand and not betray their people to those are targeting us and who want us dead. I pray there are more who will stand in the gap to reverse the death style the hounds of hell have unleashed against the black community. Indeed, America needs more Uncle Toms – those who will not betray their people for personal, political or social gain. Are you one?