Black KKK in Philadelphia has a message for the Church

Churches have the power and responsibility to address institutional racism by transforming the minds of African-American communities.

Sixx King protesting black on black violence in Center City, Philadelphia. (Photo credit: Victor Florillo/The Philly Post)

A black man dresses in a Ku Klux Klan robe and stands on a corner in Center City, Philadelphia holding a sign? He must have been out of his mind. Actually, the man, Sixx King, was absolutely on point and this black man applauds him. King used a provocative symbolism to draw attention to the tragedy of young black males killing each other.

“We’re bringing awareness to the black hypocrisy, complacency and apathy in the African-American community,” King, 35, told the news media. His sign read that the KKK killed 3,446 blacks in 86 years, but black on black murders eclipses that number every six months. More than 7,000 blacks were killed in 2011, according the FBI.

Reaction to King has been predictable. Many agree, while others have expressed outrage. Someone reportedly suggested that he be jailed. This is the challenge when you provoke people to think differently about the root of the problem – institutional racism and how we respond.

I can hear you crying, “Throwing the race card, again? Take responsibility for your actions!” But here’s an anology to ponder:  If you put a loaf of bread inside of a warm, dark moist place, what will happen to it? You’ll get mold. It doesn’t matter if it’s white bread or brown bread. Because they are both wheat, mold will grow.

Black men murdering each other is one of the “molds” of institutional racism.  It’s not just a black problem, it’s an American problem. Carter G. Woodson wrote about this in The Mis-Education of the Negro: “If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself.”

Institutional racism has been well documented and analyzed. What’s needed is a 21st century solution.  The church has the answer, but it has been hypocritical, complacent and apathic. It’s way past time that the church reawaken and lead the community.

The Bible instructs us “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Public education, the family, and the church are the institutions in America that deal most with developing the mind. Racism permeates public education, which is why it is failing black and brown children at alarming rates. Without positive family and community support or the individual inner drive to overcome institutional racism, students and their teachers succomb. The direct correlation between low academic achievement and high prison rates is not a mistake.

The church can directly influence individuals, families, and provide a counterbalance that transforms public education. The church is where slaves often learned to read. Churches set up schools for freed blacks after the Civil War. In the basement of churches is where civil rights activists trained. But with a few exceptions, the modern church, for the most part, has chosen to become irrelevant to many of our young brothers in the ‘hood. The “street mentality” (mold created by institutional racism) has filled the void.

Institutional racism, says, in part, that one group of people (particularly white males) is superior to everyone else because of skin color. It says that black people are the opposite of white, so black people are inferior, even subhuman. Native Americans, Hispanics, any non-white group is devalued. Sure, this is no longer legal and blatant, but the mindset remains pervasive throughout every institution in America, including the church. Individually, we either buy into the mindset or spend a lifetime battling to overcome it.

Across the globe, regardless of skin color, self-destructive behavior is a natural reaction to oppression. It’s as natural as mold growing on bread. Institutional racism molds how we all think. How we think triggers the decisions we make and how we act. Behavior is learned. Young black men are NOT born with a “kill each other” gene, and young white men are NOT genetically predestined for healthier and longer lives. But when you are constantly fed that your brother has no value and you digest this mindset as fact, it’s much easier to pull the trigger or turn a blind eye to his death.

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who faced the real KKK, eloquently and skillfully analyzed our American problem. He spelled out solutions. Please read the letter carefully and apply it. Like brother King’s message in Philadelphias MLK’s letter challenged the church to BE the church of God. We are the institution with the power to transform minds. The time is now.

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For more information on this topic, visit Another View, a weekly radio program and news roundtable in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

About the author, Wil LaVeist

Wil LaVeist is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker, and author of Fired Up: 4 Steps to Overcoming a Crisis, Including Unemployment. Contact him at www.WILLAVEIST.com, and listen to The Wil LaVeist Show Wednesdays at Noon to 1 p.m. on 88.1 WHOV in Hampton, Virginia.
  1. Thank you for your article. I’ve been thinking the same thing for a long time, and I’m working on something I think you’re going to like. Stay tuned….

  2. We all are aware of the problems, we need Solutions, Solutions, Solutions!

  3. Without dignifying this type of ignorance too much, let me ask – is this the most intelligent way to address the problem – is this the best the profoundly creative Black mind can come up with? If it is, we’re in more trouble than we can imagine. And…it reeks of the need for attention to one’s self!

  4. I have to agree with much of what you’ve written. However, you also have to look at how racism has become “institutionalized.” I point to public education, which marginalizes black students and allows them to be underachievers while promoting them socially, all in the name of “cultural sensitivity.” Then, when a black person, specifically a black male, has to compete with an equally credentialled white male, he is in a one-down position because his education has been inferior, although this was never evident and seemed at the time to be a stroke of luck. From that point on, the black person either has to play catch up or he / she cries “racism,” thus perpetuating the stereotype that all non-blacks are out to get blacks. Churches play a large role, but every mother and father of a young child should cry to the rooftops to have school choice. Private education is more likely to expect equal performance regardless of race or social background. The students graduating from a private school will then be equally competent and should have sufficient self-esteem that is justified to choose a different path than one of violence and to have more positive life outcomes.

  5. I’m so tired of us always making excuses about the truth we need to deal with. Who cares how the attention was drawn to the subject as long as its being address! Always got something to say when anyone of us bring up the truth. Stop blaming the past and lets start blaming the fact that the black family has broken down since the last 30days because of drugs, pre-teen & teen pregnancies, girls sleeping with any boy who asked them and produces a child in the day and age where you can get birth control anywhere. Grandmothers in their mid-30′s encouraging their daughter to follow their lead so they can continue to receive state aid. Come on folks. The truth hurst but if we don’t start looking in the mirror and addressing these problems head on then we might as well not get pissed when we ready stats like this. MJ says “Man in the mirror”.

    • Maybe your remarks stem from some kind of rhetorical joke and really aren’t meant to be responded to, but I’ll respond anyway. What’s worse about our community – the drugs, teen pregnancies, family breakdown, promiscuous boys and girls? Or is it that we blindly accept logical fallacies handed down to us, such as ‘the means justifies the end’ (“who cares how the attention was drawn) – without giving it any critical thought, and thus revealing ones own intellectual bondage by parroting the racist remarks of those who are fighting to maintain (or Conserve) status quo, and thus social dominance. Or is it the functional illiteracy of a person who cannot spell, and has not taken the time to learn what he or she does not know – say perhaps spelling and grammar for starters (Always got something to say; is it address or addressed; 30 days or 30 years; asked or asks; hurst or hurts?), yet has a lot to say about what WE need to stop doing? Or is it the self-hating internalized inferiority that reproduces itself much faster than teenage girls having baby’s and causes a man or woman to blindly accept the narratives handed down by the oppressor with regard to his-story, and present day sociology. You forgot to mention those as issues that need to be addressed by black people ( or is it address?). Evidently, you also don’t know who receives the most public aid, whether it’s low to no income people, or local businesses who routinely receive government aid and bailouts. Indeed WE do need to look in the mirror (or is it, mirrorer?).