WILKES-BARRE - In the two weeks he's lived at Sherman Hills Apartments, Josh Walton has heard gunshots on three different nights and was recently approached by a woman trying to buy drugs.
Sherman Hills, a 344-unit apartment complex located off Coal Street that houses low-income residents, is known to police as a hotbed of crime and has been the site of numerous shootings, including one that injured a Wilkes-Barre police officer.
Walton, 22, knew all about that when he signed his lease. That's why he moved here.
It's Wednesday, and Walton has just returned from his job as a carpenter's apprentice, evident by the white paint stains on his hands, T-shirt and jeans. Boxes and a disassembled desk are still scattered on the living room floor of his one-bedroom apartment in the complex's high-rise, which boasts one of the better views of the city.
Walton, whose long brown hair lies tamed under a white bandana, has moved quite a bit in the past several years.
Walton grew up in Tchintabaraden, Niger, a remote West African village on the edge of the Sahara Desert where his missionary parents worked with a nomadic tribe. He lived there until 2006, when his family returned to the United States. They settled at a retreat for returning missionaries in Jefferson Township, about 16 miles east of Scranton.
Shortly after moving to America, Walton left Pennsylvania to study music at a small Christian college in Ohio. He later returned to the area to study at the Bible Baptist College in Clarks Summit and graduated in 2011.
When he's not wood working, he spends a lot of time with local startup Restored Church, where he leads a weekly Bible discussion and Sunday worship services.
Despite his involvement with an organized church, Walton explained how he sees himself more of a follower of Jesus than a Christian, and how that motivated him to move to Sherman Hills.
"I look at what Jesus did, and the way Jesus lived, and I try to copy that," Walton said. "I think if Jesus was walking around today, he'd be somewhere around here."
While many recent college graduates busy themselves with careers and social lives, Walton said that lifestyle doesn't interest him. He said he wants to focus on helping others in need and "spreading the love of Jesus."
"If you want to help people and to be effective with working with a certain people, you have to relocate. You have to move in with them so you can understand them, so you can relate with them," Walton said. "As I continued hearing about (Sherman Hills), I realized this is the worst part of town â¦ I started thinking, I should move there."
While some members of his church have recently hosted a children's summer camp at Sherman Hills, Walton isn't involved with any structured programs at the complex. He said he intends to help his new neighbors by simply getting to know them.
"Honestly, I don't really have any plans because there's really nothing I can do," Walton said. "I think Jesus would live here, and because of that, I'm here."
Walton said he's slowly getting to know people in his building. But at times, he feels like an outsider, and he's learning why the complex has a spotty reputation.
Drugs are everywhere, he said, and residents have explained to him the common practice of people walking into "The Pit," a grassy area below his apartment, and firing guns into the air.
But Walton said he's used to this feeling. In Africa, he said he always felt like he stuck out, and Christians have been targeted by kidnappers. The danger has intensified so much that the governor of his former home recently asked his parents not to return.
The Rev. Dan Nichols, a pastor at Restored Church, said he was initially concerned when he heard about his close friend's plan to move into Sherman Hills. But after some thought, he told him to "go for it."
"I'm just so proud of him," the Rev. Nichols said. "I've never met a guy with such genuine love. He brings everything back to loving people."________________
It is interesting that Walton no longer need venture as far away as the nation of Niger to find swaths unruly blacks to evangelize (or civilize?). In any case, the reality is that these blacks are slowly turning Wilkes-Barre into Africa/Haiti or anywhere else where large numbers of blacks live. Does Walton stand a chance of changing them?
The main factor which relegates blacks to a low status is their low population IQ. When the world offers no opportunities other than menial manual labor to such persons, a life of crime and welfareism seems a preferable alternative. Crime requires only a daring, cold-blooded spirit, and the ancestral tribal warfare and cannibalism of West Africa bred blacks to have aptitude in this area. Since the dawn of history Europeans and Asians developed complex systems of etiquette and societal organization while "the black man vegetated in savage obscurity, his habitat being well named the Dark Continent." While whites and Asians built vast empires, blacks seldom organized beyond the tribal level.
Many individual blacks who possess a high enough IQ to hold a lucrative job (often due to having a significant portion of higher IQ white blood) are able to break free from the ghetto, but most average blacks find themselves morally and intellectually incapable of doing so.
While mental weakness may doom blacks to a life of poverty, many blame the welfare state for causing the black family to fall apart since the family unit was no longer necessary for survival under it. Economist Thomas Sowell has written annals arguing this. But rejection of Christian morality seems to be at the very least an equal culprit. When blacks all had Christian names, 70% of black children were born in wedlock, as opposed to the reverse of 30% born in wedlock today. When the names started changing in the mid to late '70s to African or Muslim names, black crime continued to skyrocket and the number of single parent homes increased rapidly.
White people who reject Christianity can fall back pursuits of wealth powered by an intellect and work ethic suitable for survival in a highly advanced technological society. This option is not available to most blacks. The manual labor jobs which they could do in the first half of the 20th century are largely gone. Even if there were a free market and no welfare state, blacks would still be impoverished.
Music has also played a role in the destruction of the black family. As popular music incorporated into its body more and more voodoo, blacks and whites alike began behaving less and less Christian, but the impact fell more heavily on blacks because they have less power to produce material wealth and more powerful inclinations to violence and fornication.
What do I mean by "voodoo"? Consider the history of American popular music its voodoo influences. Musicologists denote that blacks in New Orleans who still practiced voodoo influcenced the creation of Jazz and the Blues. The blues morphed into rock and roll, which was far more manaical than the jazz music which was an earlier ancestor of the bluse. Rock and roll spawned numerous offspring including rock music, funk, and later all the variants of popular music today. Even moden country music is essentially rock music with airhorns, being otherwise entirely reasonant of syncopated beats used in voodoo.
In the late 70s and early 80s, Afrika Bambaataa developed rap, the most beat-oriented music yet, and perhaps the closest to voodoo. Countless ancestors of blacks danced to the beats of voodoo, and the extent to which they indulge in rap and other beat-driven music today is the extent to which they awaken the cruel atavisms of their distant pagan ancestors over and above the morally upright ways of their more recent Christian progenitors. Christian blacks of the 18th and 19th centuries sang negro spirituals which were more conducive to soulful virtues than the beats of voodoo. Some of this soulful music survives in a bastardized form in R&B music but it might as well be entirely lost among the black peoples of the US.
The sad fact is that most contemporary Christian music being indistiguishable from pop music, is closer to voodoo than to negro spirituals.
In spite of such sonic hanicaps, Walton may be able to push his black neighbors closer to a Christian way of life and away from drugs and violence. By sacrificing economic opportunities to live in meek poverty, Walton may influence his black neighbors to give up their pursuits in making money selling drugs and to live like him.
But regardless of Walton's efforts, the blacks' low population IQ--the delimiter of their wealth potential--will remain unchanged. Thus even if Walton changes all of Wilkes-Barre's blacks to be righteous, the potential for a Sherman Hills environment to break will always be close by.
Another phenomenon which will likely remain unchanged will be a high black birthrate and declining white birthrate, making the darkening city of Wilkes-Barre a microcosm of the world at large.
Extending white man's moral burden to blacks is a noble endeavor, but doing so offers no solutions to the increasing population of low income blacks. How do we address the low birthrate among college-educated women--black and white alike--who abstain from passing on their intelligence genes to future generations? Christianity cannot answer these questions. But unless we want Wilkes-Barre to have the potential to turn into one giant Sherman Hills, we must answer them.