Pastor Jamal Bryant apparently can’t keep it in his pants, evidenced by a new paternity test showing him to be the father of a new child out of wedlock. But that’s really not the issue here. The reality is that Bryant’s platform for activism, television appearances and even political efforts stem from his position as a pastor. Unfortunately, powerful black institutions outside of the church are scarce to non-existent; because the church provides a realistic shot at prominence in the black community, people like Jamal Bryant latch onto it and if they should happen to choose a lifestyle outside of the Christian bounds, their voices are lost. It’s time for the black church to step back and for blacks to embrace leadership from people who don’t hold up Bibles as an accessory to their activism.
George Zimmerman’s gun auction should make clear what value America places on black life. It isn’t just that we don’t value it but that we place monetary value on ending it. This has been true for a long time. It was true in 1955 when Emmitt Till’s killers were paid $4,000 for telling their tale of cold-blooded murder to Look magazine just four months after their acquittal. That acquittal by an all-white jury took only 67 minutes; one juror even said, “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop, it wouldn’t have taken that long.” George Zimmerman’s trial at least had the appearance of legitimacy but the aftermath is eerily similar and every bit as painful as the Emmitt Till ordeal. Zimmerman is set to make hundreds of thousands from the sell of the gun he used to kill Martin, much like Till’s killers were paid for their story. Different decades, similar results– that should terrify us enough to act.
President Obama was in Flint this week to address the terrorism- yes, terrorism- the city is still suffering from. After a full two years the President finally made it there. Why? Because we are a nation of cowards. We show courage when confronting crises and acts of terror committed by others but when we are the perpetrators, we rarely face the music we orchestrated. Beyond the obvious factors of race and class, this inability to own our transgressions helps explain why eleven days after 9/11 Congress created a $7 billion fund to compensate family members of the 2,700 victims. It also explains why two years into Flint’s crisis the 100,000 residents of Flint have only a proposal in the Senate; a mere $220 million aid package, tucked into a larger bill for water-related projects around the country.
Saturday night was Barack Obama’s last White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It is customary for participants to tell jokes; however, Larry Wilmore went a bit too far. Attempting to praise Obama’s legacy, Wilmore ended by saying, “Yo Barry, you did it my n—a.” As a black man, I’m enraged. But I understand that some black people disagree with me–their vote counts in this matter. As a black man, I’m equally enraged that non-black people are attempting to police the word–their vote doesn’t count. Other groups are allowed to own their own wounds within their communities and treat them as they wish. But for some reason reason, the “N-word” is a cluster.