Recruiting for Uncle Sam’s Army today has become an almost impossible task. Marine and Army recruiters would have more success trying to get dogs to become vegetarians, than trying to get young men to become soldiers. Who wants to sign up to die?
But one of the most successful recruitment plans has been going on for years, using real criminals as a cover. With new information from a former student (anonymous), here are the details about why “incarceration” is not always about “bad behavior” but a system that punishes people.
It will take some type of bold-action approach to help solve this problem of “quick incarceration of blacks.” Once again we have to turn to the church because it’s the only place where most African Americans (in groups) gather together once a week. The black church has in the past supported our efforts to attain first-class citizenship and decent treatment from local and national law enforcement officials.
Black ministers and black parents must ask themselves, what are our children worth to us? Do we consider them priceless and worth every ounce of energy? If we really value our children’s future and are committed to saving the black family, then we can save most black youth from incarceration and fratricide. How? Because the churches’ new, bold-action “prevention plan” can start out recruiting from the prison complex industry and eventually put it out of business or back to their original function of housing only real criminals, not “sick people” who need hospital treatment.
The churches’ major competition today is the American prison complex industry. The grim statistics show that the growth of prisons, especially in Illinois, is outstripping the growth of black churches. At this very moment, super-maximum, state-of-the-art prisons are being built bigger and better than African-American churches all over the country, and small, GOP-controlled towns are competing to get them because they provide employment and economic development for their citizens.
In short, what black ministers must confront with a sense of urgency is the reality that prisons are a $4.5-billion, supply-and-demand business, with stockholders on Wall Street, and our sons, daughters, and we ourselves, supplying the demand.
Many black churches have so-called “prison ministries” that desire to save the souls of black and Latino inmates. But few have strong ministries of prevention, with the intention of putting prisons out of business; Therefore a bold-action type of new militancy must be started by the churches.
Five years ago, Dr. Hycel B. Taylor, then-pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Evanston, was asked by Indigo staff writer Thelma Shirley what was the most important issue facing the black church in this new century? He responded by quoting John 4:18-19: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Dr. Taylor goes on to say that “the black church will have to measure the efficacy of its ministry and mission in relation to another competing institution, the American criminal justice industrial complex.”
At present, about one out of every four black males born today will end up in prison, which means that many black church youth programs are spiritually inefficient and socially non-competitive. Tragically, there is no religious “youth day” in the African-American church that can compete in youth attendance with the funeral of a black child killed by a stray bullet from a gang war over drugs.
There is also no youth initiative for young girls in the African-American church that can compete with that of the criminal justice system, which forces innocent black girls to admit to committing crimes and then plea-bargain their lives into so-called shorter sentences that brand them with felony records for the rest of their lives.
What must we do when, locally and nationally, our government is corrupt and lies all the time? The catalyst can begin this coming Oct. 14-16 at the Million More March in Washington, D.C., as an agenda item because Rev. Willie Wilson, executive director of the event said at a unity meeting last month, when he told those assembled it was time for a “spiritual, economic and social rebirth in communities that many have given up as lost.” Accordingly, the mission statement of the planned march lists all aspects of community development. The black churches can encourage more black ministers to look at the prison complex with a “new vision” and begin to see the incarceration of young African Americans as an insidious and seductive movement of genocide more sophisticated and sadistic than the genocide against Jewish people in Germany. It is a genocide that warehouses black bodies rather then exterminating them. This leads to exterminating black spirits through the torture of isolation and socialization of sexual perversion and indoctrination into more crime.
Apostle Paul’s words must ring in black ministers’ ears in a new, bold-action way:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Good always triumphs over evil. No lie can live forever! Truth crushed to earth will rise again. Who will win? The recruiting game? Only we as a group can save ourselves. We hold the answer.