In 1903, sociologist and civil rights activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, more commonly known as W.E.B. Du Bois, published his classic and widely-respected work The Souls of Black Folk. The book is a series of essays in which Du Bois leverages his own personal experience as a black man in America to comment on the larger societal struggle for equality of black people decades after Reconstruction.

In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois is unapologetically dogmatic in his assertion that, given the overtly prejudicial attitudes embedded within American society against black people, they must always maintain what he referred to as a “double consciousness”. That is, an ongoing awareness and cognizance of: 1) how blacks view themselves, and 2) how society views them. And though I don’t necessarily concur with Du Bois in that regard, as it would require black people to make some of the same unfounded generalizations and assumptions of others as are being made of them, I can nevertheless understand why he would offer such admonitory counsel.

It was a recent Washington Post article, written by Vanessa Williams, a black woman, that recalled Du Bois’ “double consciousness” theory to my mind and reminded me that a black person can be just as guilty as anyone of providing the impetus for one’s adopting his thesis as a form of social orthopraxy. The article is Williams’ rather racist postmortem about why Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, was narrowly defeated by Republican Brian Kemp, a white man. Without getting too deep into the specifics of Williams’ reasoning – you can read the article for yourself – she essentially is placing the blame for Abrams’ loss at the feet of the 11 percent of black men who, to her apparent consternation, voted for a white man over someone who, in terms of skin color, looks like them (hence the article’s headline).

In other words, Williams is lamenting the fact that 11 percent of black men, all of whom were legally registered to vote in the state of Georgia, volitionally exercised their Constitutional right, in conjunction with the dictates of their respective individual consciences and without regard to either Abrams’ or Kemp’s ethnicity or sex, voted for the gubernatorial candidate of their choice.

Why…why…the horror!

How dare they?!

Do these men not realize they’re…black?!

In The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois declared, “For this much all men know: despite compromise, war, and struggle, the Negro is not free.” Du Bois was right. There is ample empirical evidence that black Americans, not only in the late 19th and early 20th-century but for many decades after, were not “free” to the same extent as their fellow image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27, 5:1) who were white. In fact, one might very well argue that what Du Bois maintained more than a century ago is still a reality in 21st-century America. The extent to which such an assertion may or may not be the case is not a question this commentary is intended to address. Suffice it to say that inequity and injustice are both natural and expected by-products of a world beset by sin (Rom. 5:12), the metastasizing effects of which we, as sinners, are to blame with regard to our deliberate and incessant maltreatment of one another (Mk. 7:17-23).

But notwithstanding the aforementioned statement by Du Bois, which undoubtedly was posited from the standpoint of his own personal experience, there remains today a form of bondage from which black Americans have yet to be emancipated. It is a servility that is more philosophical than physical; a yoke that is more furtive and surreptitious than the overt and palpable white supremacy spoken of by Du Bois, having been placed upon the necks of black voters by people who look just like them, people such as Renée Graham, for example, who, subsequent to Abrams’ defeat, published an article in the Boston Globe urging black men to stop voting Republican

It is in light of this reality that several questions come to my mind: Why did Williams not title her article, “What’s up with all those black women who voted for the Democrat in the Georgia governor’s race?” After all, is it not the least bit concerning to her that one political party holds a near-monopoly on the voting strength of an entire ethnic demographic? What level of betrayal did these black men commit by supporting Brian Kemp as opposed to Stacey Abrams? Was there some inherent allegiance owed to Abrams by these men simply because their melanin content is similar to hers? Why would their choosing to vote Republican draw, as Williams writes, “gasps and rebuke on social media and news commentary”? Why is it that black people, unlike any other ethnic voting bloc in America, hold one another to a collectivist ethos regarding politics, while treating other aspects of their existence as self-determining and autonomous (e.g. religion, vocation, education, etc.)?

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

Frederick Douglass

As much as I appreciate the issues that were so courageously – and necessarily – confronted by Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk, the question remains: what about the minds of black folk?

In other words, why is it that so many black people continue to propagate the notion that merely because they are black, they are somehow obligated to support only political candidates who are either black and/or Democrat? It is this kind of ethno-tribalist mindset that serves to perpetuate the stereotypical narrative that blacks are politically monolithic, that their votes are cast primarily in terms of what is best for their “race” as a collective group as opposed to what is in their best interest as individuals, while at the same time decrying anyone who would dare accuse them of being so politically tunnel-visioned (though historical exit polling data proves that that’s exactly the case).

Speaking only for myself, I have never understood why blacks like Williams and Graham, with all due respect, see it as virtuous that black voters devote themselves so unquestioningly to one political party. To advocate for such blind loyalty is to suggest black Americans set aside their responsibility as individuals to be ideologically discerning about how their votes are cast, and instead support candidates solely on the basis of socio-cultural tradition. Black voters are the only people, politically speaking, who apply this kind of ideological collectivism to themselves; and who openly castigate each other for refusing to embrace it.

In closing, I want to make it clear that in no way am I arguing that the probity and integrity of the Republican party exceeds that of the Democrat party. Not at all. All politicians, regardless of party affiliation or ideological persuasion, are sinners before they are in office, while they are in office, and after they leave office (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). That politicians, regardless of such external characteristics as ethnicity or sex share the same sin nature as the people who elect them to office, is why we must be diligent in exercising both spiritual and ideological discernment in deciding whom to support for political office.

Discernment is a godly virtue (Phil. 1:9-10) and discernment involves the mind (Ps. 119:66).

It wasn’t because the elections in Georgia were not “free and fair”, as Stacey Abrams has alleged, that she fell short of making political history in Georgia. No, my friend. Abrams lost, in large part, because 11 percent of black men, for reasons known only to them, made an informed, educated, and volitional decision to support her opponent in the race for governor of Georgia. It was a decision with which people like Williams and Graham should have been completely fine.

They weren’t. And that’s a problem.

Given the universal reality of the imago Dei, it is the height of sinful ethnic bias (“racism”) to infer that 11 percent of black male voters in Georgia failed in carrying out their ethno-cultural duty to the broader “black community” by doing not only what they had every legal right to do, but every spiritual right as well. Black Americans, like any other ethnic group, should be completely free to express the conviction of their conscience when entering the voting booth. Conversely, they also should be free from the ridicule and criticism of tribalist blacks who insist that they, as black people, automatically subordinate their God-given individuality to that of some arbitrary and subjective collectivist mandate.

As the old truism goes, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Indeed it is. And black people should be – and are – free to express their individual political philosophy in whatever way that seems best to them, without fear of being disparaged, denigrated, or ostracized by other blacks simply for having done so.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
Black Men Helped Propel Brian Kemp To Victory – Daily Caller



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Written by Darrell B. Harrison

Darrell Harrison is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He currently resides in Covington, Georgia (about 45 miles east of Atlanta). Darrell attends Rockdale Community Church, a Reformed Baptist congregation located in the Atlanta suburb of Conyers, Georgia. Darrell is a 2013 Fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute (BTLI) of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a 2015 graduate of the Theology and Ministry program at Princeton Theological Seminary. Darrell studied at the undergraduate level at Liberty University, where he majored in Psychology with a concentration in Christian Counseling. Darrell was the first African-American to be ordained as a Deacon in the 200-year history of First Baptist Church of Covington (Georgia) where he attended from 2009 to 2015. He is an ardent student of theology and apologetics, and enjoys reading theologians such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, and B.B. Warfield. Darrell is an advocate of expository teaching and preaching, and has a particular passion for seeing expository preaching become the standard within the Black Church.

18 comments

  1. Well said sir . I’ve pondered on that same phenomenon . No matter which side you fall on ,just make an informed decision.Don’t just cast a vote on party affiliation or skin color.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an English teacher in the public school arena, I’d like to know how I can get a copy of this wonderful exposition. I’d also like permission to copy and distribute said article to my pupils as class-required reading material with your permission. Great article. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Greetings, Neil. Feel free to copy and distribute the article. If you wish, you may copy/paste or reprint directly from the blog site. I would ask only that you also include the copyright notice, which is located in the upper-right section of the article. Respectfully, Darrell

      Like

  3. DARRELL, I have VERY little experience with Black people, so I could be wrong.
    After reading this: – ” I have never understood why blacks like Williams and Graham, with all due respect, see it as virtuous that black voters devote themselves so unquestioningly to one political party.” – I wondered if their view was more about socioeconomic status, rather that color of their skin. Their socioeconomic status, being better that many Black, makes them feel guilty, but they don’t want to use their own money. Just a thot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderfully written and thought provoking. I had just read an article discussing the valley that has widened with the American Jewish voter and the sentiment of your writing’s draw close comparison.
    Keep the faith brother, continue to seek the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating. Curious how certain folks think skin tone over thinking and digesting should decide one’s vote. “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” BOOKER T WASHINGTON.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “…to be ideologically discerning about how their votes are cast”
    Bravo, Darrell!!

    Thanks for a responsible trestment of the subject, much needed. I agree. It’s all about the ideas you believe in, not just an idea of gaining power that tends to your liking based on race. What the candidate ACTUALLY SAYS should not just be winked at, but be the cause of a decision. This us what a loss should be attributed to. Please note: Religion is more spiritually substantive than race. By not voting what you truly believe, (issues) you prove you are not really free, nor seeking freedom. Are you willing to as it were, follow a man into hell because he looks like you? Spiritually speaking, the devil is wise, and has used this deception to cause people to put ther moral selves on hold, leaving only your moral enemy to succeed without a fight.

    We must be careful as to the value of making choices that don’t represent us individually. A vote should speak to who you are. Like it or not, it IS the content of our character that matters most, regardless of race.

    It is this thought that speaks to the value an greatness of democracy. Now that all can vote, realize you ability to make a contribution by voting your conscience I say. Oh t is that which contributes to the greatness of any nation so goverened. Raw power based purely on a characteristic such as race, elevated above substance is ALWAYS more harmful than helpful.

    I believe we should hold black politicians and preachers to a standard that suggests they are being voted for or against based on the substance of their policies, or in the case of preachers, how well they lead us to God, not politics. If people are led to God, hopefully they will look for substance in the voting booth based on true convictions.
    Don’t settle for less than objective substance. The prerequisite to being valued, to greatness is substance. This is what Darrly demonstrates here I believe. A race that does not value substance is not headed towards greatness.

    To be honest, something is seriously wrong in this country if we all are not capable of realizing the purpose of voting without someone having to provide explanation.
    It is actually sadly, shameful.

    The vote is powerful. It is like a gun, if not handled correctly it can destroy both the user and others co-located. It is powerful. Use it carefully to protect what you believe in, and as a side effect of that good judgement, race may also be positioned politically to gain influence and employ the lever to thrive–the help of others who seek not themselves, but what is above themselves, what is right as well.

    More than leveraging other people, we also may leverage God if our cause is true. This was the genious of Civil Rights in America.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, thank you. So helpful and so needed. Pity the multi-racial people who might be criticized from both (or multiple) sides! I wonder how Vanessa Williams would feel if one of those 11% of black men wrote an article expressing their shock at how unthinking it was for the majority of black women to vote one way. I’m guessing he wouldn’t be too well received.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Black men distinguishing themselves in Georgia. Demonstrating the ability to make tough choices. How about that!
    So Darryl, the obvious question is, as you are in Georgia, were you one of the men of the black men of substance in Georgia, the 11%?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another fine piece Mr Harrison. It was also a blessing to here you and Mr Walker tackle this in JT#55. Your question “What is truth” came for me at a very appropriate time having just read 2 Thessalonians. And while I appreciate the title and purpose of your work, I was reminded that every Christian should guard their mind against persuasions which run contrary to Biblical Truth. The consequences for turning from Truth listed in the second chapter are severe. I really enjoy the apologetic form your discussions take the podcast and within your blog posts. Thank you sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for a honest, brave and courageous article to write in today’s political ‘group think’ climate. We never defeat racism by projecting just another form of mental segregation. I pray for the day when the power of the gospel will become the light that guides as we all seek biblical discernment that strikes at our minds AND hearts instead of believing that membership in a certain group gender, race, social agenda or political party gives us the moral high ground … that has never worked – instead it exchanges the ‘golden ring’ of prestige for just some other idolized group think (James 2:2-5). Christians have the ultimate message that is the basis of hope, forgiveness & reconciliation – the only msg that can really change people – more powerful than any politician or law (Eph.2:14-18).

    I witnessed the greatest demonstration of this when at a prayer breakfast a few years ago when an Israeli and a Palestinian got up from opposite sides of a table and embraced one another as brothers with tears pouring out for one another in the name of Christ (and in fact at that very moment the Palestinian man’s family was being held by the Israeli army back in Israel because they lived in a border area that had just come under terrorist attack!). I thought to myself how there had been no other area in the world with more hate, racism and segregation than what exists in the Middle East over 1,000’s of years until today – and yet look at what Christ had done for these 2 men… Both spoke to the crowd that the only thing that would change the outcome in their hometowns was the love of God through Christ as the prophets had promised long ago. Our battle is not outward but inward – against light and darkness – not on how we look or our circumstance – whether good or bad, rich or poor. We could learn a lesson! Only Christ can unite us because only Christ has overcome the world of brokenness and sin.

    /Pastor Bob

    Liked by 1 person

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