Bob Lonsberry, BobLonsberry.com, October 10, 2007
Let me repeat that.
In the United States, of all the children in foster care, 60 percent are black.
African-Americans are 60 percent of the foster children and 12 percent of the general population. That’s a 500-percent over representation.
In ballpark terms, that means a black child is five times more likely to end up in foster care than the average American child. When you take black children out of the national average, blacks are in the neighborhood of 11 times more likely to be foster children than non-blacks.
It’s because there is a broad-based collapse of the black family in America. And if things are ever going to get better, African-American leaders are going to have to switch their emphasis from defending black America to changing black America.
There needs to be a reformation and a renewal of black America, with a change of emphasis from victimization to individual responsibility.
This isn’t offered as a criticism, but as a lifeline. Not a condemnation, but as a way out of a crisis. Not because I hate blacks, but because I love them.
Because I am haunted by the thought of those African-American kids in foster care, and the lonely isolation and deprivation of natural affection they must feel. The babies who need holding and the young tears that need to be dried. The kids who never really get a chance, who never really get the most basic of birthrights – a mom and a dad and a loving home.
And I am saddened by what those children must almost unavoidably become – alienated from society and deprived of its opportunities, wards first of the state and then of the welfare and prison systems. It is a cancer wherever it exists, but it exists with butchering disproportion in the black community.
And only the black community can change that. And the preachers must lead.
The black church, long touted as the anchor of the African-American community, is in abject failure. Its efforts are apparently so overwhelmed as to be fruitless. There is much preaching of the word, but little living of the word, and consequently few blessings of the word.
The black clergy must change that. They must demand not only to be heard by their community, but followed. Not in the paths of civil rights conflict and peace and justice causes, but in the simple and clear lifestyle of Christ. They must preach the gospel of God, not the gospel of men.
They must preach the virtuous and faithful life. Lying, stealing and idleness must be denounced. Marriage and family must be exalted, and out-of-wedlock sex and children must be scorned. In a community where two-thirds of the children are born to single mothers, is it any wonder such astounding numbers end up abused and neglected and dumped into foster care.
The culture must be changed. It must stop being worshipped, it must be replaced.
And prominent African-Americans – in sports, entertainment, business and politics – must act with public dignity. The bad example of a few – through destructive lifestyles, drug use and disrespectful and dissolute living – does tremendous damage to many.
A theme of good living must permeate the African-American popular culture. Instead of drugs, violence and sex, the community’s entertainment and standards must be directed toward bettering real lives in the real world. And the obsession with white racism should be replaced with a focus on black power – black power to choose to live lives with better, freer and happier outcomes.
And all of this must come from within. There is no government program, no amount of money, no outside mentoring or education, no non-profit crusade, no nothing that will do a bit of good – except the strong, righteous and wise leadership of black moms and dads, pastors and mayors.