Blacks in the United States continue to lag far behind whites in key areas of economic well-being like wealth, income and homeownership, a new report from the Pew Research Center finds. While these trends have been consistent for decades, what’s particularly notable is that these disparities between blacks and whites persist regardless of the level of education they attain, said Juliana Horowitz, an associate director of research at Pew. “Even when we only look at people with bachelor’s degrees, we still see these gaps,” Horowitz said. Take income. In 2014, the median household income for whites was $71,300 compared to $43,300 for blacks. But for college-educated whites, the median household income was $106,600, significantly higher than the $82,300 for households headed by college-educated blacks.
By Lou Coleman
Our age is characterized by pathetic preachers and pitiful churches. Christ Himself gave this evaluation of the Laodicea church: “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, blind, and naked.” [Revelation 3:15-17]. The Head of the church [Jesus] was nauseated and said, “You make me sick!” You are a spectacle in the pulpit and a disgrace in the community and need to be exposed for what you are. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites. As a result of their ambivalence to spiritual things, Jesus would have nothing to do with them. He would “spit them out.” How did they get this way? [Jeremiah 14:3] says, “They came to the pits [cisterns], and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty.” The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, lamented, “They are not valiant for the truth… they know not me” [9:3].
Listen, you can’t put live chickens under a dead hen. There are too many preachers standing behind a sacred podium who have never been born again. They are spiritually dead. Their messages and manner of living reveal their inner condition. Christ warned, “By their fruits ye shall know them” [Matt. 7:20]. Paul admonished, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things” [I Cor. 2:15]. Don’t hate the messenger! I just deliver the mail….You cannot have the life of the kingdom of God until you have entered the kingdom of God. What you need is a conversion experience like that of Saul of Tarsus. You need a trip to Calvary. Let’s face it! Nehemiah was frank when he declared, “And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him” [6:12]. Preaching is a calling. It is not enough to like to preach or merely feel that one ought to preach. There must be a holy compulsion that says, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” The spiritual plight of many ministers is found in the parable of the persistent friend [Luke 11:6]: “And I have nothing to set before him.” Job complained, “Miserable comforters are ye all” [6:2]. The Apostle Paul warned, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” [CoI. 2:3]. Don’t get stuck on stupid! The religious world is full of unsent preachers. “Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?” [2Sam.18-22]
I tell you, there are a lot of windbags in the pulpit. Isaiah expressed the same opinion: “We have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth” [26:18]. Jeremiah deplored, “And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them” [5:13]. The writer of Proverbs states, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain” [25:14]. Job declares, [13:4] “But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.” Shall I remind you that the Laodicea church is headed for judgment? “God says in [Jeremiah 12:10] you have destroyed my vineyard.” The Head of the Church, Jesus Himself, is nauseated with a flabby, flaccid, halfhearted church. It is dope addiction of the spirit, alcoholism of the heart, cancer of the soul, and blindness of the mind and poverty of vision from which the people perish.
How did you get this way? The Prophet Haggai put it thus, “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came too little” (1:9). Isaiah gives the reason: “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth” (37:3). I tell you, the early church turned the world upside down. Today the world is turning our churches upside down! Almost a generation ago A. W.Tozer wrote: “The preaching that once angered the atheists and brought them charging out against God and the Bible has pretty much disappeared. Hellfire, miracles, and the necessity that men please Almighty God are no longer a serious part of current Christian teaching. Christianity has been watered down until it is little more than “cheer-’em-up stuff.” We are so afraid of being narrow that we have opened the doors to worldliness. Christ would share the grief of Jeremiah who grieved, “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets” (23:9). So many preachers these days are talking but not saying anything. The tragedy of today’s preaching is that most preachers give the people what they want to hear, not what God’s Word declares. Woe unto you!
So what can be done for pathetic preachers and pitiful churches you may ask? Consider the Potent Cure; “Begin at My Sanctuary,” says the Lord [Ezek. 9:6]. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” declared Prophet Isaiah [52:11)]. “Carry forth the filthiness out of the Holy place” [II Chron. 29:5].
Listen, Christ said, “He would spew the Laodicea church out of His mouth.” “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God…” “The hour is late. The invitation is open by the Savior Himself: Repent! “Behold, I stand at the door~ and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door~ I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” [Rev. 3:20]. Don’t wait too late! The clock is ticking… Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock!
By Ronda Racha Penrice, Urban News Service
The roots of soul food run deep.
Mary McCallum-Stewart isn’t as well-known as Sylvia Woods, purveyor of Harlem’s legendary eatery, Sylvia’s Restaurant. But McCallum-Stewart also built a soul food legacy. The Jackson, Mississippi native launched her own soul food empire in 1969. Los Angeles’ M&M Soul Food Restaurant was inspired by her nickname, “Mississippi Mary.”
Although McCallum-Stewart passed away in 1998, her contribution thrives through various restaurants that bear some form of her name. They reach from southern California to Las Vegas, where her younger brother Ventress McCallum expanded the business. Her daughters Nicole Shaw and Debra Ratliff run Mary Stewart’s Southern Soul Food in the city of Rialto in the L.A. metro area.
“We had to learn by our mom showing us,” Shaw says of their culinary inheritance. “It’s not like us cooking by watching Food Network, by measurement. You can’t cook by measurement . . . We had to learn by our mom showing us, ‘This is what you do,’ and you cook by taste.”
Oxtails — cow tails, actually — are their most popular dish, along with greens, mac and cheese, yams, and red beans and rice.
For most, the term “soul food” harkens back to the 1960s’ civil rights and black power movements. But the term has a longer history, says Adrian E. Miller, the Denver-based author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of An American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. Shakespeare employed the expression in his first play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona. During early American history, black Americans used “soul food” in a religious context for centuries. Black jazz musicians created a style of play in the 1940s known as “soul food” that white musicians couldn’t easily duplicate. Soul food became most popular, though, during the 1960s.
“What happens in the ’60s is that ‘soul food’ as a term gets racialized and radicalized,” says Miller, also known as “the Soul Food Scholar.” “The Black Power advocates were trying to figure out, ‘How do we connect the very diverse African-American communities around the country?’ because what was happening in the rural South resonated with people to some extent, but what was going on in the urban North and out west was different. So they decided that culture was one of the best ways to connect people, and food was the great connector.
“[Also,] the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, by this time in the mid-’60s, had expelled all the white members. A manifesto of theirs was leaked to The New York Times, and that manifesto said that white people can’t understand things like ham hocks, brains, pig’s feet, which was news to white Southerners because they’d been eating the same foods for 200 years.
“So, at that point, in that decade, ‘soul’ becomes ‘black,’ and ‘Southern’ becomes ‘white,’ and we’re still living with the legacy of that today. So much so that African-American contributions to Southern cuisine have been obscured,” Miller says.
National Soul Food Month, observed in June, is in its 15th year, says Charla Draper, a former food editor for both Ebony and Southern Living magazines. She now provides food consulting and public relations through her company, It’s Food Biz.
“National Soul Food Month grew out of a conference that was hosted in Chicago by one of the organizations I belong to, the Culinary Historians of Chicago,” Draper says. “The conference occurred in 2000 and 2001. The conference was called Grits and Greens and, in the second year of the conference, we created the National Soul Food Month identity, just really to help spread the word.”
Today some may view soul food as the unhealthy cuisine that black Southerners carried over from slavery. But the “unhealthy” assessment, Miller says, is untrue. “When you look at what people were eating, it’s actually closer to what we call ‘vegan’ today because there wasn’t a lot of meat,” he says. “[Meat] didn’t anchor the meal the way it does now.”
Food pioneer Edna Lewis — whose grandparents were enslaved — recalled in her revered 1976 cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking, fried chicken was “a very special dish … produced only once a year in late spring through early summer” in her native Freetown, Virginia. Today, fried chicken is widely considered a soul food staple.
One main soul food feature never changes, however. “We just cook from the heart,” says Nicole Shaw. “We just cook from the foundation of what we were brought from.”