One of our family’s annual holiday traditions is to enjoy the Soul Train Awards. I have been a big fan of Soul Train (and its host, Don Cornelius) since its inception in the early 1970s. This past Sunday evening, my family and I gathered to watch the Soul Train Awards program on Black Entertainment Television, hosted by Cedric The Entertainer (though he sure does make me miss Bernie Mac). The Awards program did feature a loving tribute to Don Cornelius, Soul Train’s host and producer for many years, who passed away last February, and to Donnie and Marie Osmond (no, I am not making this up). Among the featured performances were 2 Chainz, Miguel, Elle Varner, TGT (Tank, Ginuwine, Tyrese), and Ne-Yo. New Edition received a lifetime achievement award.
My family and I have always enjoyed the comedy and musical performances by the featured artists, although my own personal taste prefers the music of black artists such as Ethel Waters, Leontyne Price, and Billie Holiday. However, I was shocked at this year’s program when Oscar-winning actor, singer-songwriter, stand-up comedian, and talk radio host, Jamie Foxx, said, “First of all, give an honor to God, and our Lord and Savior Barack Obama.” The audience in attendance, some of whom were African-American, cheered wildly in approval.
I can certainly understand the enthusiasm of some of the audience members of equating President Obama with the Messiah. Particularly for many in the African-American community, there has been great passion for our nation’s first biracial president. This is true even though the unemployment rate in the African-American community is much higher than the nation as a whole, and youth unemployment in the African-American community is close to 40 percent, and there is a continuing weak economic situation in our nation that threatens jobs in both the private and public sectors in the years to come. Monica Potts recently wrote an interesting article entitled “The Collapse of Black Wealth,” in The American Prospect, in which she observes:
Most middle-class families hold all of their wealth in their homes, and that’s especially true for the median black family—the amount they hold in stocks is zero. That means the housing crisis has wiped out an entire generation of black wealth. . . . The gap between middle–class families and the top 1 percent is huge regardless of race, but the racial gaps are even larger. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America report, black households had a median net wealth of just $4,900 in 2010, compared with $97,000 for white households. A third of black households had zero or negative wealth. [Emphasis added.]
Then there are rampant problems in some African-American communities of high abortion rates, poverty, and the plague of drugs, murder and other violent crimes. In many inner cities, the public education systems, such as in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, or Chicago, are (or should be) a national disgrace. But I think that many African-Americans see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, and think that a Republican administration in the White House would make things far worse for those in African-American communities. This is partially why the African-American community voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Obama. Further, some had even threatened civil unrest and rioting in the event former Governor Romney was elected president. Nevertheless, I am unconvinced that President Obama will prove to be a savior or lord for either the United States, and the African-American community, in particular. Personally, I will continue to look to the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It seems to me that Mr. Foxx, and those who cheered at his declaration, would be wise to do so as well.