RENJE: Empowering young black men, the fix

Bill Renje

Bill Renje

“We know that we don’t have the skill set in our economy. There was just another report this past week about where America stands when it comes to the rest of the world in terms of educational skills. We have a lot of work to be done…(the unemployment rate is) not really dealing with a larger, big picture issue about the American economy.” — Tom Brokaw discussing the drop of the unemployment rate on NBC’s Meet The Press.

In talking about our overall economy and the growing inequality our nation faces, Brokaw hits on a key point which is that our political system is not dealing with the bigger picture of what’s wrong. Politically speaking, our system is in utter ruin. Personally, I’ve taken a step back from politics because I don’t think the solution to what ails us is political, but rather spiritual.

Left wing policies typically breed permissiveness and dependence, while right wing policies typically breed greed and selfishness. Both sides take their base for granted while breeding fear, anger, bitterness and hostility towards the other which just fuels our cultural chaos.

Further, political solutions only go so far and typically only deal with the symptoms and not the cause.

Republicans want policies like lower corporate taxes and empowerment zones to boast investment and job creation in poverty stricken areas like Detroit, while Democrats want policies like a higher minimum wage and universal Pre-K. All of which have pros, cons and unintended consequences. But none of which deal with the core problems of what we face, and that’s a complete breakdown and failure of the American family.

Since the 1960s, the out of wedlock birth rates overall have roughly tripled to 40 percent of all American birthrates. That’s an epidemic for all of America. But it’s been said that when White America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.

And with 73 percent of black children being brought up in homes without fathers, that is an epidemic that all of us need to go “all in” in trying to fix. Study after study after study indicates that children of any color without an actively engaged father are far more likely to drop out of high school (50 percent in inner-cities), be completely unprepared for the labor force, live in poverty and birth children out of wedlock.

The good news is that I believe we can break the cycle for many, and that’s what God has called me to do in my ministry. I spend a lot of time in our schools and we need more of what I discussed in parts one and two of this series – freeing up while empowering coaches, educators and the community as mentors and role models – and less top down government, restrictive one size fits all education programs that rely too much on standardized testing.

In short, we need to teach the individual child’s heart and not teach collectively to the standardized test.

Ultimately, I firmly believe that only the real and authentic love of Jesus Christ can transform our culture and save this nation from complete ruin. The progressives on the Left and the secularists on the Right don’t comprehend this and the Christians on the Right mostly do a terrible job in showing this love and grace, because they themselves mostly don’t understand it.

So in the next and last installment of this series, I’ll discuss the church’s role in empowering our young men of color.

Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can follow Bill on Facebook, Twitter @billrenje and learn more about him at his website www.achosenbullet.com