Black Leaders Embarrass and Sell Us Out Again

By Rev. Bill Owens Published on February 2, 2018

There have been countless takeaways on President Trump’s State of the Union address, and the reaction of many Democrats in Congress. At a few days’ remove, I’ll admit my own reaction. I’m embarrassed. Not by the president, but by our so-called black leaders’ behavior in public, on television, before the nation.

As a proud black American, who remembers the days of Jim Crow and who worked in the Civil Rights movement, I’m also saddened.

Back when Southern sheriffs would beat black people up for trying to vote, or throw out their ballots, could we ever have imagined this:

A president who stands before the country and focuses on the economic condition of African-Americans. He points out that it is getting better. That tens of thousands more black Americans have jobs than they did a year before. He promises to help us, by protecting our job opportunities from being undercut by illegal workers.

Democrats have found a new set of clients, and they’re taking us for granted.

What’s more, there aren’t just one or two, but almost four dozen black members of Congress. They’re sitting there in the audience looking up at him.

We couldn’t have dreamed of something like this, back when I was marching and training for non-violent resistance with Dr. King’s organizers.

Leading Us Nowhere

You want to know what else we couldn’t have imagined? That most of those black congressmen and women would be staring back up at the president, stony-faced and angry. They wouldn’t applaud the American flag — the flag our ancestors cheered when it replaced the rebel banners of the slave-owners. They wouldn’t applaud the national anthem, or the value of American citizenship. 

And they wouldn’t even celebrate good economic news.

That is the kind of progress that shouldn’t be dismissed just because it came under a President you didn’t vote for. We should be able to appreciate good news, and not taint it with partisanship. Does anyone remember Republicans doing the same, when President Obama announced some good news? No, of course not. Even if they thought he was taking credit for something he didn’t do, they did the patriotic thing: They applauded the fact that things were going well for their fellow citizens. That’s common courtesy, and seeing our “leaders” violate that was a terrible example for every black child in America. I hope they weren’t watching.

Making a Mockery of Our Hard-Won Citizenship

Black people my age remember how hard it was to claim our rights as citizens. It took a full hundred years after the 14th Amendment, hard as that is to believe. Who would have thought that within just a few decades of gaining that precious right, our leaders would be scoffing at it? That they’d be willing to shut down the government not once but likely twice (just wait), to hand that citizenship out to millions of people who never earned it? Whose parents had just stolen it for them? That our leaders would fight to keep on importing more and more foreign workers, handing them that citizenship, and taking away the jobs our sons and daughters needed, to get a start in life?

But that is what the Congressional Black Caucus has come to. Its members have sold themselves, lock, stock, and barrel, to the Democratic Party. They have no leverage left. They are completely taken for granted. You know how I know that? When was the last time that party did something as drastic as shutting down the government on behalf of black Americans? What has that party done for us in the past 30 years, apart from expanding on welfare programs that lock us in poverty? And now, throw open the borders, so strangers can take our place?

Replacing Us with Imports

Whatever you think of affirmative action, at least its intent was to right an historic wrong. How is it, then, that immigrants who came here voluntarily — sometimes against our nation’s will, breaking its laws — can benefit from a program designed to make up for Jim Crow aimed at black folks? Once again, the Democrats have found a new set of clients, and they’re taking us for granted. We’re locked down, stuck in place. They don’t need to bid for our votes. Our leaders insist that they’ve got us. They can worry about importing one million or ten million new votes from other countries. And that helps black Americans how, exactly? I’ve yet to figure that out.

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Now let’s set race aside. As a minister and a Christian, I’m baffled by the indifference that so many putative Christians show toward crucial accomplishments of Trump’s past year in office. We may not all agree with the President on every issue, but it is undeniable that the past year has seen great strides for religious freedom, pro-life and pro-family issues, and economic independence. As founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, I’m working with hundreds of pastors to place the black church alongside the white church — on the front lines of fighting for Gospel values, unborn life, and equal freedom for every citizen. I wish that the congressmen who purport to represent us would remember those issues too.

I cannot be the only one who was moved by the story of the police officer who helped a pregnant addict by promising to adopt her unborn child.

Wake Up and Smell the Subterfuge

Does it advance our community for self-styled black leaders to shrug at a story like that? To roll their eyes at patriotism? To troop along obediently as the Democratic party dilutes our influence and trades away our jobs, all to gain another compliant voting bloc in the form of millions of immigrants?

It’s time for black Americans to wake up and smell the subterfuge. Our citizenship, our faith, our jobs and our self-respect are all in danger. For all his flaws, President Trump is trying to stick up for those things, on behalf of every American — us included. If we don’t regain our political independence, we’re just going to get shoved aside. Again. 

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