Neighborhood

Angela Glover Blackwell’s essay entitled, “Ensuring Broad Access to Affordable Neighborhoods that Connect to Opportunity,” is one which has much to contribute to the African American community. Essentially, the article’s thrust seeks to identify the core factors that have likely prohibited African Americans from enjoying a variety of social benefits. Much of her thought is driven by this fundamental concern: “In the United States today, where you live literally determines access to opportunity.” Thus, in identifying the latter statement as that which under-girds many of the apparent fallacies within this ethnic group, she attempts to address the issue by strategically providing helpful methods designed to alleviate these difficulties. Such methods primarily include increased funding of public transportation, particularly within urban areas allowing many (for instance) to reach their jobs and meet other obligations at a respectable time. And of course, as many of us would presume, Blackwell does not seek to construct an entire system that will sufficiently relieve the lack of opportunity within Black America, but in my opinion, she does however have a large scale ambition for initiating the groundwork by which an entire edifice could soon be established. Indeed, a large scale system of thought prescribed specifically for the rejuvenation of less fortunate ethnic groups and families who, by virtue of their location, are unable to have access to good schools and jobs, grocery stores and parks. Yet before I mention much else, I admittedly am ashamed of my own personal irresponsibility of paying little attention to the implications of less fortunate housing and its consequences. It is perhaps conceivable that the problems Blackwell reveals might have been minimized had many of us (who are of age) had the conscious to care more diligently for our community, and particularly, for the welfare of children whose fate rests helplessly in their hands. Moreover, this is not a “soap-box” moment, but if the weight of Black America’s woes are at all apparent to the onlookers in a significant way, and if parents genuinely care for the future of their kids (and therefore the future of America), then we would assume our responsibility as far it depends on us. This, I think, is not a lofty exhortation, one which is not suited (or compatible) for those immediately affected by its consequences, nor is it an insult designed to provoke some sort of emotional “knee-jerk” reaction. Rather, I suggest a calm reflection of what each of us is capable of contributing, or we may simply review what Mrs. Blackwell provides in her essay and select those options that are within our grasp. As such, I would argue that certain fundamental criteria for salvaging and thereafter rejuvenating diminished urban areas, is attainable. That is to say, we may enjoy the first-fruits of our labors, in an inchoate form of course, while reviving within ourselves a sense of dignity as we patiently petition our government to come to our aid. Such a suggestion, to me, seems minimally disagreeable and should therefore warrant a legitimate, positive response.

Now that I have provided my own personally biased assessment of our condition, I now look to offset this with the “Normative Bias” of Scripture. For, as many scholars have noted, we cannot uproot many of our biases, but perhaps, we can properly counter them with good biases, by God’s grace. Since RBA is chiefly an outlet for those theologically inclined, I believe there to be several scriptural references that may support what I have briefly mentioned earlier. Thus, I submit the concept of the irrationality of unbelief. Psalms 14:1 says, “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.”…despite such evidences as Romans 1 clearly states. Still, though we may be bombarded by evidences of a Supreme Being, we perpetuate our insistence in denying that there is a being than which none greater can be conceived. Why is this? Why can a perfectly competent individual be presented with multiple versions of sound, valid and persuasive forms of argumentation which demands allegiance to God, yet neglect his duty? Well, the answer is likely to be the same reason that the Devil, who once paraded God’s thrown, and knows more about Him (in an unregenerate sense) than humans nevertheless finds himself banished before our Lord. So, practically speaking, Angela Blackwell and all the preaching in the world could not persuade an unbelieving individual whose heart is more likely to be set on less honorable things. And though, in His Providence, there is the possibility of unbelievers assisting in cleaning urban areas, thus making them more presentable, Christians should not primarily look to them. But, for an individual who understands the Christian’s prerogative for being the front-runner of societal preservation, an open door awaits. And in his obedience, he is being perfectly rational, for his thoughts and behavior have met the criteria of Scripture.

Lavaris McCellion