Dr. Bobby E. Mills on the Importance of Black American History

Bobby E. Mills
Bobby E. Mills

Black history begins and ends with a “Positive who am I experience”. King Solomon said it best: “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tenets of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me, thy made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” (Song of Solomon 1: 5-6).  Without a doubt, Black history is more than just the White use of Blacks for slave labor (economic development and European immigration/expansionism).

This editorial is not about blaming the victim, but how to take ownership responsibility with limited material resources for what was created by a racist-institutional-system. For after all, once again, Black history begins with a positive “who am I experience”; not hero-worship, because God is the only hero. Who am I is essentially a spiritual question about individual, as well as, societal meaning. The deeper moral question is: How do we live in a democratic pluralistic society?

Black history is about freeing one’s self from the inside to the outside. The formula for such a spiritual transformation process is: (a) freedom from fear (b) faith (God/self) and, (c) tolerance and open-mindedness. For after all, Black history should be a perpetual living-spiritual-process rather than an occasional yearly celebratory experience. Black history is not about hero worship. Every individual must make his own history, because the greatest debt owed to an individual the individual owes it to himself.

Blacks as a social group have not been able to establish a spiritual-moral-affirmation concerning their own human dignity and self-worth, because of the dysfunctional-structural nature of Black institutions: families, churches and educational institutions. By morality, I have reference to an inward process of spiritual self-respect-dignity, which in turn, stabilizes human relationships. Herein lies the crux of the problem: Black institutions by and large give emotional fixes, rather than lasting spiritual fixes. Question: When will Blacks move beyond feeling good to learning how to do well?

The twenty-first century demands a new kind of Black spiritual and intellectual consciousness:

  • Blacks must acquire the spiritual and moral courage to be “authentically” Black.
  • Blacks must acquire the moral-intellectual-integrity and courage to restructure their basic institutions; the family, church and educational institutions.

The Black community is experiencing a spiritual-moral-crisis of staggering dimensions. Question: Who will save Blacks from Blacks? Answer: Only Blacks with God’s divine guidance! Without a doubt, only Blacks can halt the socio-economic-extinction of Black America. The lack of creative intelligence is the source of social disorganization both in the Black community, as well as, American society. Spiritual ignorance is the enemy. Witness the evidence:

  • Blacks are the only group of individuals who have had “special” institutions; especially built for them, namely educational institutions (HBCUs). Yet, Blacks have not been able to utilize these institutions to free themselves. Question: Why? Replying that Whites will not allow us to free ourselves is not a good answer. With God’s help Harriet Tubman found a way to free Blacks.
  • Over forty-two percent of all PhD’s granted to Blacks are in the field of education. More than seventy percent of all Blacks are educated in environments that are 80-100 percent Black. And, Blacks are the most Europeanized educated Blacks on planet earth. Blacks have degrees and keys down to their knees, and apparently no Jesus. Question: Where is the spiritual-common-sense? And, at the same time, Blacks are the most poorly educated of the poorly educated. Question: Why? Why isn’t there a positive correlation between degrees and creative intelligence in the Black community? This is a relevant question because one in five Blacks earn bachelor’s degrees from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Question: What are they being taught, and what are we teaching ourselves to become? And, at the same time, Black collective survival has decreased proportionally to the number of degrees Blacks earn. Question: Are Blacks educating themselves into extinction?
  • In 2015 the gross national income of the Black community was in excess of 1.1 trillion dollars. Yet, the largest Black own corporations are entertainment oriented, rather than human development and survival-needs-production oriented. Question: Why does this state of affairs exist? Seeking to have a good time in time, on time, and all the time is not a good strategy for human development, the production of basic survival needs or community development.

Present educational structures, instructional methods, and ideologies in the Black community militate against creative learning. Existing models of leadership militate against restructuring human thought, spiritual cooperation and institution building in the Black community. Charity begins at home and then spreads abroad. Of course, this is the only way Blacks can effectively “dewhitize” themselves, that is rid themselves of self-hatred, the Uncle-Tom-Syndrome, and the Willie Lynch Paradigm.

Blacks have produced two generations that have become too comfortable in their spiritual ignorance; and as a result, these two generations have been left behind spiritually, as well as, economically. Who needs the poor is indeed a spiritual moral question? There is a clarion call blowing in the wind: change directions. Without a doubt, we need spiritual-moral-integration before cultural integration can become a societal reality. Desegregation without spiritual-moral-integration invariably devolves into devilish confusion. Selah!

Bobby E. Mills is an accomplished college professor and public sector administrator. He earned a B.D. degree in Theology from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York and a Ph.D. degree in Sociology from Syracuse University, New York. He has written and published numerous professional articles concerning the pressing social ills confronting American society.