I sat in two recent Sunday services, and tried to view the service through the eyes of a young black man. I saw up on the screen images of “college students” showing off their college T-shirts. All of the dozen or so “students” were young women. The following week, they gave out scholarships for young college students. Over 80% of those scholarships were given to young women.
Young black men do not matter anymore to the church. Or at least, that is the message the church is sending.
Of course, people will say that is not true at all. They will say that they love young black men. And yet, both Islam, and the Nation of Islam are in resurgence today. Young men are flocking to Islam at the same time they are leaving the Christian church. This is not because our young men are evil (if you believe that, the Ku Klux Klan needs you), it is because we have made the church unwelcoming to them.
In today’s church, young black men are viewed as a “problem to be solved”. An “issue” to be addressed. They are assumed to be lazy, immature, irresponsible video game freaks. And too many are. Because it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Children only rise to our expectation of them.
Most young men today do not know who they are. Or who they are supposed to be. We live in a culture where young women’s identity are constantly being affirmed. They are constantly being pushed into technical programs, into advanced academic programs. They are constantly being told they can do more, be more, achieve more.
Many bitter black mothers instruct their daughters to plan to be independent all their lives. They tell them that black men are immature and unreliable. The church does little to counteract this type of “teaching”. Rather, much of its messaging reaffirms this type of thinking.
The young men are being messaged that they don’t matter anymore. They are being told that there are programs available to “fix them”. Young Indian men are not being told this. Young Arab men are not being told this. That is why they (and not young black men), are filling our nation’s Engineering and Science, and Medical programs.
Young black men from Africa come here and excel. They become doctors, lawyers, engineers. They haven’t been programmed for failure. They are inoculated against the message of this culture that they are worthless. Because most of them don’t attend American churches.
Our young men are not looking for concerts. They are not looking to be entertained. They are looking for respect, identity, and to be needed. They are not getting any of this from the black church.
If the church doesn’t change its attitude toward young black men, the black church community in this country will cease to exist. These men will either migrate into the prison system, or they will migrate into Islam, or the Nation of Islam. Either way, the Black Christian Community will disappear from American landscape.