Instruments of Our Own Oppression: The State of Black America

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Written by Rev. Dr. Eric M. Wallace, PhD.

In 1907, Bal Gangadhar Tilak addressed the Indian National Congress as the nation of India struggled to shake off British empirical rule. Tilak, and others, were determined to achieve independence from Great Britain; and to establish self-rule as a nation and people.

Tilak argued that independence was within the grasp of his countrymen, particularly because Britain’s control over India was due, in fact, to those Indians responsible for assisting the British. He said, “[w]e have perceived one fact, that the whole of this administration, which is carried on by a handful of Englishmen, is carried on with our assistance.” In other words, there were a handful of foreigners who ultimately controlled the destiny of millions, because the millions allowed them. Thus, Tilak aptly expressed his people’s cooperation with foreign government as the “instruments of our own oppression.” Here is the quote in its context:

This whole government is carried on with our assistance and they try to keep us in ignorance of our power of cooperation between ourselves by which that which is in our own hands at present can be claimed by us and administered by us…Self-government is our goal; we want a control over our administrative machinery. We don’t want to become clerks and remain [clerks]. At present, we are clerks and willing instruments of our own oppression in the hands of an alien government, and that government is ruling over us not by its innate strength but by keeping us in ignorance and blindness to the perception of this fact.” 

Not surprisingly, in this same manner a foreign government has taken control of the destiny of the African American community. Since the 60’s many African American leaders have assumed the role of the “clerks” assisting, in many respects, the Democrat Party’s control over the black community, to our obvious detriment.

I’ve chosen to call the Democrat Party a “foreign government” because its progressive ideology is foreign to the professed ideology of most African Americans. Progressives, in general, are anti-Christian, pro same-sex marriage, pro abortion and support the status quo in education to the detriment of our children’s education. Blacks have been led to believe that it is in our “best interest” to support a party that does not share or support our social or Christian values.

One example of this is the growing support of LGBT rights by Democrats. Black preachers across the country have traditionally preached against same-sex “marriage,” or at least acknowledge that it is ungodly. Yet, they continue to support a party and candidates who have pledged their support of LGBT “rights.” As a result, we now have redefined the institution marriage, and state after state is lobbying for coed restrooms. To speak against homosexuality is to bring on criticism. As a licensed minister and biblical scholar, I can assure you that God is not pleased that so many who claim to be ministers of the gospel have compromised biblical principle for political expedience. A day is surely coming when we will suffer for not “standing for righteousness.”

When it comes to education, many of our elected officials, as well as “black leaders,” have sided with unions in an attempt to halt school choice. I believe it was last year that Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Rainbow P.U.S.H convened a panel on education, which failed to include anyone advocating on behalf of school choice. The head of Chicago’s Teacher’s Union was there, but no one from a charter school was present. This happened in spite of the positive results seen in several charter schools such as Noble Street Charter or Urban Prep serving under-privileged communities in the Chicago metropolitan area. What confounds me is how can we have a real conversation about education if we’re not willing to invite, and accept, innovators to the table? At the same time Jackson would be one of the first to say that a good education helps our kids find jobs, and stay  out of jail. Unfortunately, for those children trapped in under-performing schools Jackson’s words are empty and disingenuous. Our children have become tragic reminders that we are “instruments of our own oppression.” These children are receiving a poor education, not because white people are trying to oppress us, but because African Americans themselves are on the wrong side of the issue.

Another case in point is the black community’s unwavering support of President Barack Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP and other black leaders who support, among other things, trade unions at a time when black unemployment has reached record highs. Trade unions have historically been a source of discrimination against blacks, and other minorities, and in many instances make it extremely difficult for a black tradesman to join a union. According to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), 20 percent of blacks belong to unions. They mention this as if it were something to be proud of. I, on the other hand, see this as a disgrace because instead, this suggests that there are about 80 percent of blacks who aren’t represented by unions. Ironically, with all the so-called efforts of the president, black legislators and leaders to shore up support from unions and their special interest groups, the results have been that only about 20 percent of the black work force is seemingly reaping any benefits.

However, it still remains to be seen if the 20 percent realize any substantial benefit at all from Obama’s largess. There are still reports of racial discrimination in trade unions, especially in construction (Click here and here).

So, somebody please tell me how blind support of labor unions is helping the African American community? How is this same blind support of teachers’ unions helping our children learn, graduate high school and get a good job? When you add to this the democrat’s support of same-sex marriage, the question frankly is, why is it that black Christians support the Democrat Party?

Unfortunately, these questions represent only the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even mentioned that over 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. Or that it is public record that blacks have over 30 percent of abortions, though we make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Or those local, state and national statistics, which consistently show most victims of crimes in the black community are terrorized at the hands of other black Americans.  Chicago is the epicenter of concern for black gang activity that includes shooting innocent men and women, boys and girls. Then add to this mix the police department which harbors the few bad officers who maim and brutalize suspects without due process and a mayor who hides police officer misconduct for political gain. How can a community move forward in this scenario?

Although the content of this article infers a negative and hopeless disposition, it is this author’s contention that this apparently desperate state of the black community is not far from redemption and transformation. There are many of us who believe that the church must “rise” to lead the way out of the wilderness of self destructive behavior and antithetical policies that call evil good and good evil. However, the hope of transformation will only happen when the people of God determine to collectively “stand for what we say we believe, and actively engage in the political process that represents us.”


Dr. Eric Wallace is the co-founder and president of Freedom’s Journal Institute, and has organized the Black Conservative Summit and a one day conference “In Defense of Life: Why All Lives Matter.”  Dr. Wallace and his wife Jennifer live in the south suburbs of Chicago.


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