By Kendall Qualls, former Army officer
STARRS Board of Advisors
In some respects, I feel as if we are living through a time like Charles Dickens, “The Tale of Two Cities,” of which he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”
We are bombarded with messages claiming America is overflowing with systemic racism and white supremacists. Even the National Council on Family Relations now labels the traditional two-parent family an extension of white privilege.
If you listen exclusively to the news media, the entertainment industry, and the academic-industrial complex, you will be surprised to learn this truth: This is the least racist period in the history of our country.
Having lived in the Jim Crow south, my parents and grandparents would have loved to have grown up in the America I grew up in. A large percentage of the country has been operating in a post-racial America for many years. Across our nation, people have been interacting with each other with respect, dignity, and compassion regardless of race. They have been judging people by the content of their character.
We can pass laws that allow me to enter the front door and reserve a room in any hotel in this country, but we can’t pass laws to force people to open their hearts and their homes to people who don’t look like them. But that is precisely what Americans have done for decades. So how do we explain the differences in the realities on the ground and what we hear in the media?
My family is a classic example of the “best of times – worst of times” and of the disparity between reality and rhetoric. My children, who are now adults, grew up in a two-parent family. They had their challenges, but they also had stability, unconditional love, and clear boundaries.
Unfortunately, there is a stark contrast with their cousins on my side of the family. Of my four siblings, my children are the only ones who grew up with both a mother and father in the home. As a result, the lives of my siblings’ children have been interwoven with trauma and tragedy.
How do we explain these differences? Was it systemic racism built into American society? Or was it something else? We have two tales from the same family with the same skin color, yet the disparities are quite broad.
On the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, I was five years old. At that time, nearly 80 percent of black children were born into two-parent families. Sadly, in my lifetime, we have seen the black community transform from 80 percent two-parent families to 80 percent fatherless homes without one national initiative to reverse the trend.
If the American black family was a spotted owl or a gray wolf, it would be on the endangered species list. Instead, what has happened to the American black family is nothing short of a cultural genocide.
This is not the dream King had in mind, and it has been a nightmare for children born during this period. The black community has been used as a political pawn for 50 years.
Therefore, I have taken on this crusade to begin a transformation back to cultural roots in the black community and reverse a trend that has devastated generations of families, including helpless children born into situations not of their own making.
I know from personal experience that this country is not systemically racist. My parents and grandparents lived through systemic racism. I did not.
Unfortunately, my siblings made different decisions in their lives. All four of them used drugs and three were incarcerated. Far worse, their children were left to be raised without fathers in their lives. Theirs are the stories of many families ravaged by the lack of father involvement, personal responsibility, faith, and most importantly, hope.
I mourn deeply for what has happened to their lives. My children live in wide disparity from their own cousins, and it is not because of the color of their skin.
To be clear, we do have racist people in our country that do bad things to people, but the country is not systemically racist. To put it another way: If you look for racism in this country, you’ll find it. If you look for opportunities, you will find them 100 times over.
How do we resolve this “Tale of Two Cities,” the 80 percent fatherless homes and the chronically low graduations rates for black high school students? Ironically, the power to change ultimately lies in the hands of black Americans. I would like to direct the following comments to black Americans throughout the country.
For far too long, we have watched our black communities destroyed from within. As a community, we are worse off now than we were before the Civil Rights Era.
We have it within our power to move forward and begin a transition of healing and growth that is long overdue. And we do not need government help or funds to accomplish this transformation.
We are missing out on opportunities in this country to which we are fully entitled as American citizens, opportunities that seem to be clearly visible to nearly everyone except native-born black Americans. Many of us are blinded by tears of anger, mistrust, and misunderstanding that lead to decisions that are not in our own best interests.
Today, black American citizens who have legally immigrated from the Caribbean Islands and African countries like Nigeria earn significantly higher incomes than native-born black Americans. They achieve higher levels of education. They are living the American dream civil rights leaders desired for us.
Many of these new citizens came to the country with intact families, which helped with their achievement and integration. Another reason for their success is they have not been indoctrinated by years of anti-white, anti-American, and anti-capitalist hatred.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that we reconcile with the past sins of our nation, re-establish two-parent families, and rebuild our culture and join other Americans around the “Table of Prosperity” as fellow citizens of this great country. How do we get started?
I believe it starts with tapping into the strengths of our cultural roots, which are linked to our Christian faith. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of Christianity. Just as God extends forgiveness to us in Christ, we are called to forgive others.
As we forgive the country for the sins of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and many other forms of bigotry that followed, the heavy burden of bitterness, anger, and resentment will be lifted from our shoulders. Our eyes will be opened so we can clearly see the path forward allowing us to focus on what is best for our future and the future of our children.
To forgive is an act of strength, not weakness, and we must begin the healing and strengthening process in our communities. This is our Prodigal Moment. It is time to come home.
Now, to all Americans: Our shared history transcends political parties, race, religion, and class. It is a shared humanity that binds us together like the intertwined roots and branches of trees in a dense forest.
Organized groups are igniting forest fires to divide and destroy our unique American culture. It’s imperative that we not only extinguish their efforts, but foster a new movement that nurtures, unites, and strengthens us as Americans, regardless of race, for generations to come.
Kendall Qualls is a former Republican Candidate for Governor of Minnesota and was recently reinstated as President of TakeCharge. He is a former Army officer and healthcare executive. Kendal has been married for 35 years and has five children.