Message to the People: Damn that Devil!

Recently, when I told a black conservative I thought a number of statistics from poverty to prison demanded more attention to structural issues that could help explain retrograde black behavior, she responded that I “had been seduced by the enemy.” I’m not sure if “the enemy” is Tavis Smiley, Maxine Waters or the Devil. I just know it’s bad. Another woman explained that black male over-representation in prison isn’t complicated.
“Black men just like to be in jail.” Wow!

Privileged black people who think this way are now out front and center and gaining momentum. Their disdain for the black poor is not new, it’s just becoming more acceptable in the public sphere of a country continuously willing to ignore race, stymie substantive racial discussion or define race out of existence altogether while allowing real-world racial discrepancies to fester. Frankly, some of these black people just don’t like black people.

Those of us more concerned with “my people” than “MySpace” understand that these folks are not all celebrities like Bill Cosby, either. In fact, some of the most dangerous advocates of this “throw the underclass under the bus” ideology are black church fanatics. Their message is clear and simple … too simple. Everything would be all right if the black poor would just pray, take real “personal responsibility” and work harder. These proselytizers have imbibed the ever-loving Kool-Aid. Oh Yeeeaahhh! (Remember that commercial?)

To be sure, there are black people all over the place who are absolute degenerates. You’ll get no argument from me there. I should also point out, however, that every race and ethnicity have their share of ne’er do wells. In actuality, I really believe black folks work just as hard as every other race on average. If you believe that, then we have to look for other reasons for the troubling gaps across the board than condemning a large segment of an entire race as societal pariahs.

Of course, I could be wrong. When I told the conservative who implied I’d been seduced by the Devil, “I may have too much faith in black people,” she responded with pity, “I’m afraid you do.” That damned Devil! What a bastard.

Speaking of the Devil — one of the greatest church hustles may be about to hit a snag. Since the 1990s, black mega-church preachers have gained more and more influence and money in communities that have sufficient populations to sustain them. My condemnation of some of their right-of-center socio-political philosophies and lavish lifestyles is no secret. It seems that some others are starting to take note of the big ballin’, too.

Recently, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, announced that he is investigating six prominent televangelists for possible financial misconduct. In early November, letters were sent to Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by Dec. 6. According to Grassley’s office, he is trying to determine whether these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles. Oh hell, the Devil’s got Grassley, too!

Two of the six ministers, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long, are among the best-known black mega-church pastors in the country. For years, the two Atlanta-based pastors have lived more like moguls than ministers with large salaries paid by their churches, lavish homes, multiple luxury cars and other “perks.”

Creflo Dollar (I have no idea if that’s his given name), who has several Rolls-Royces and private jets at his disposal, defended his high-roller lifestyle by insisting that he “needs private airplanes to minister to his flock … First of all, I don’t own airplanes. The planes are owned by the ministry. We see it as equipment to accomplish the work of this ministry. Like a carpenter has to have a hammer to do his job, I’ve got to have a plane to fly around this world.” Dollar said that his Rolls-Royces also belong to the church.   

Now let’s see if I’ve got this right. These men talk about people pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, but everything they have is given to them by working-class people. That is some serious personal responsibility for you! Maybe they’ve been “seduced by the enemy.” Damn that Devil!  
Remember, until next time — have no fear, stay strong, stand on truth, do justice and do not leave the people in the hands of fools.

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