Seeing black people, conservative religious leaders in particular, fawn over Donald J. Trump at a recent prison reform meeting at the White House makes me balk. An adulterer and philanderer who is under investigation for treason shouldn’t be praised by anyone, least of all black clergy.
As Trump may go down in history as the man who successful dismantled the First Amendment without altering the Constitution, I’m reminded of the history of this phenomenon.
As much as we like to think otherwise, it is literally impossible to separate the past from the present.
“This is probably the most pro-active administration regarding urban America and the faith-based community in my lifetime,” Rev. Darryl Scott told the group, adding, “This is probably going to be … the most pro-black president that we’ve had in our lifetime.”
It is with a considerable amount of care and trepidation that I stain a white page with these words. Because I am so sick and tired of seeing the black church played for a fool. To be fair, the black church is not some multi-headed monolith that responds to the beck and call of me or anyone of my ilk.
Why such adulation and praise from so-called leaders of the Black community for a man who coddles white nationalism and consistently plays to white fragility? Short of mind-reading, it’s really impossible to discern their motives. But history bears witness to this being nothing new.
Oftentimes, whenever this phenomenon occurs, individuals cite conservative values gleaned from the Bible as reasons for their actions. Then, as it becomes apparent that the man who they voted was running a con, they’ll say ‘It’s God’s will’, as was the case when Rev. Walter Humphrey spoke of George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004.
However, it goes back even further than that.
It is a historical fact that the Bible and Christianity were used to conquer indigenous people and to control slaves. How can you overthrow a master if his image and your God’s image are dissimilar from your own? Psychological warfare by any other name is still the same.
Many slaves took to the Bible willingly as its passages are filled with stories of triumph over would be conquerors, justification for the poor, and freedom for the enslaved. Though it may have helped make the harsh rigors of slavery a bit more bearable with promises of an afterlife for the devout, the overwhelming majority of them died in bondage.
Several weeks ago, while searching for interesting authors of African descent at BookExpo of America at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York, I came across a kindly older Black gentleman wearing a uniform that appeared to be of the same type worn by Confederate officers during the War of Southern Insurrection, more commonly known as the Civil War.
Many of them could not read, not even the preacher in some instances, but the rich tradition of storytelling griots that originated on their continent of origin would follow them to America. The call and response between the Pastor and congregation, as well as the mournful wales of black field calls that were converted into the first black gospel songs, are all African in origin as well.
Today, there are millions of black Christians in America who are productive citizens of contemporary society. However, issues such as abortion, gay marriage and women’s rights keep many of them cemented to conservative doctrine as if the words falling from the mouths of bigots and homophobes are somehow divine incantations. Especially so when they’re spoken by white males in positions of power.
So when I see individuals of African descent lining up to shine Donald Trump’s proverbial shoes, I’m immediately reminded of the historical context in which it exists, and that context is an awful one, quite frankly. I understand the thinking behind it, though.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.– James 1:6
There are dozens of passages that speak for the need to be resolute in faith and the Bible itself casts dispersions on those who question “the word of God” or his messengers.
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin. As a journalist, a Black man, and a lover of Baldwin’s work, that quote has become chiseled into my version of the truth; I say my version in admission that there are other truths.
So, if you’re a black conservative Christian and you believe your pastor is ordained by God, then every screwed up thing he does or agrees with is considered ordained as well. An extreme instance of this paradigm was when convicted child molester Bishop Eddie Long was protected by his congregation and allowed to continue in his role as pastor prior to his death.
Mind you, this was the same guy that railed against gay marriage and upholding the institution of marriage as solely between a man and a woman. Yet, he was protected.
Oh, but as my long-gone Aunt Mary used to quip in her signature Carolina twang, “If you see one roach, there’s a thousand more that you don’t see.”
That is to say, our awareness of one instance of a particular circumstance means there are more that are unnoticed, unreported or unrecognized as being a problem.
Back in 2017, the Root published a very controversial article titled Straight Black Men Are The White Man of The Black Community. I was repulsed by that thesis, wholeheartedly so.
My contention is that straight black men as a whole don’t control anything in America, least of all any means of feeding, clothing, housing and educating others in mass numbers.
Historically, the only institution that black men have ever held long-term sway over has been the Black Church, which was still so sexist during the ’60s that women weren’t allowed among Martin Luther King Jr’s inner circle of top advisers.
Perhaps the name of that article should have been Black Pastors Are The White Men of the Black Community, instead.
Despite what you see on TV, it ain’t much better today. According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, roughly 10 percent of congregations have a woman in senior or solo leadership.
Some who are reading these words will readily banish my soul to Hell for even saying such things. But as I age, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that black conservatives are the hapless anchors to black upliftment.
And, with every election season, they prove my point over and over again.