Black Lives and the Death of a Culture

“Black lives matter!” say the sloppy signs.

Sure. They do. Then come the chants about killing cops, and “hundreds of blacks are killed by police every year!” Who’s feeding these folks this kind of nonsense? But if we look at history we can find a glimmer of understanding.

This isn’t about cops. It isn’t even about slavery and white privilege -– though liberals would like it to be. It’s about policies that have decimated an entire culture, made it rot from the inside out, about policies birthed in the Democrat party, in the hearts of those who value power above all. It’s no wonder that these young people are angry.

I remember when I saw our black population as a strong, long-suffering, admirable people able to carry their dignity, and their poverty, with the same graceful walk. They wove African rhythms in and out of the Psalms; they turned those same rhythms into jazz, the blues, and rock and roll. They invented tap dancing. They infused our sports arenas with a skill and strength previously unimagined. Their pastors gave rousing, encouraging sermons while those indomitable black women murmured “Amen, brother,” and flipped their paper fans in the air. They peopled our literature –- Calpurnia and Tom Robinson, Aibeline, and Virgil Tibbs, and Jim on that raft on the Mississippi. Black American culture, forged in terrible suffering, had become something to be proud of.  

Where is that culture today? Jazz has sunk into the angry, obscenities of hiphop. Those proud women, overwhelmed by the humiliation of official, bureaucratic neediness, are often now junkies. Too many of the pastors scream anti-American, Marxist blather instead of teaching the encouragement of the Word. Black fathers are nowhere to be found; their babies are aborted more often than any other group (Blacks are 12% of the population, but 78% of aborted babies.). Is black life in 21st century America that hopeless? It must be. Let’s look at what has happened in the last 50 years:

On the plus side –- the Civil Rights Movement jerked parts of the south up into the 20th century and put a stop to a lot of the Democrat-led segregation and discrimination. But that’s where the good part ends.

Forced bussing, had little effect on the quality of schooling offered to black children, disrupting communities, putting black children at risk, and watering down everyone’s schooling –- schools became hubs of social experimentation and ceased their role as centers of learning. This left our inner-city kids -– mostly black and Hispanic –- without a solid rung up. Education is the only door out of the ghettos, but teachers’ unions have locked those doors tight.

Johnson’s War on Poverty, which sounded like a noble thing, became a war on impoverished families, on the basic building blocks of civilization. It offered aide primarily to husbandless mothers, which made it profitable for the father to be elsewhere. Black mothers were left to raise their children alone –- without even a decent school to send them to.

So here are black women being paid to bear more illegitimate children, unable to get off the dole once the babies arrived, unable to control their male children, who could see no place for themselves in their communities.

These young men have no education, no skills, no vision for what they might become, so they sell dope, join gangs to fill the fatherless hole in their souls, and treat their women with the same disdain they feel for their own feckless selves. Even if they could function in a good job, there aren’t any in their neighborhoods. Union corruption and liberal policies have destroyed the cities where their ancestors once made good money. Inner city unemployment numbers for young black men hover around 50%. They have nothing to do but hang around on street corners and pretend to be manly. They arm themselves with nine-millimeter pistols and have no idea how to deal with the male authority the police officers represent.

Add to that the legalization and government support of abortion. Planned Parenthood, under the guise of helping poor black women get control over the number of children they brought into their poverty, worked against the only means these women had of earning a living –- bearing children. It targeted black women as part of the eugenicist’s goal of ridding the world of people of color, and it appears to be working. We’re looking at cultural suicide, egged on by misguided government.

Do black lives matter? You wouldn’t know it by looking at the governmental policies that have been in place since the Civil Rights Movement. No policy since then has done anything but make black lives worse. Affirmative Action, Aid to Dependent Children, food stamps, welfare. Okay. These programs have allowed for the accumulation of TVs and cars and microwaves and AC. But those things don’t give a person purpose or a sense of self-worth, a hope for the future.

Are these young people angry because white cops are mowing them down willy-nilly? No –- because that isn’t happening. Are they starving? No -– EBT cards allow them the same diet the rest of have and they don’t even have to work.

But there’s the rub. Work provides much more than a living. Work can provide a goal, a hope, a possibility. You can feed a body with food, but a soul requires a more esoteric diet. It requires actual achievement, actual struggle to arrive at that success. It requires self-understanding and respect. It requires reason -– things have to make sense. It requires truth.

These angry young people have had none of that. The only thing they’ve learned in their schools is what sad, unfortunate, mistreated people they are. No one expects anything from them, which sends the message that they are incapable of anything, and, on top of that, they know little about how to cope with a teacher’s authority. How can they possibly find their future? They don’t have one.

These kids are out of line, burning their own neighborhoods, killing each other and the police who try to protect them, but their behavior is not forgivable, but it is inevitable. Liberal policy has backed them into a corner. Yes, they are thugs. Yes, they are shortsighted enough to torch their own neighborhoods. Yes, their anger is misplaced.

But. Black lives do matter -- it matters that they stay alive, but also that they be able to reach their potential. This movement is proof that liberal policy has ruined their chance for fulfillment, and has left them so profoundly angry, so emotionally, morally, and mentally damaged that their rage may destroy what little social order still exists.

If we just recoil in anger and fail to face what we -- all of us, blacks included -- have done, this will never get better. 

Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing, logic, and literature. She can be contacted at

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