I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead.
I believe it is imperative if one is going to provide commentary, it must be fair, it must be consistent, and they have to address the problematic subjects. African Americans continue to advance the argument that racism is a persistent problem in America. I believe there is room for debate as to the accuracy of such a supposition. I grant there is racism; there will always be racism because there will always be a sin. Yet, I do believe things are significantly better for African Americans. I am incredibly confident my grandson, Malachi, has a chance to do anything he seeks to do if he is willing to work hard. Much will depend upon the influence of his parents as well as his adorable grandparents.
If African Americans want to continue to make a case for systemic racism (if one can effectively make the case), then we cannot condone acts of blatant racism from within our camp. I was not aware of the statement that begins this blog post until very recently. Jordan Peele, director of blockbusters movies like Get Out & BlacKkKlansman, made the statement speaking to aspiring improv students. What would happen if a Caucasian director said, “I don’t see myself casting a black dude as the lead.” I know I would be outraged. I know I would be ready to boycott any future movie of this director.
I remember one of the prominent designers (can’t remember the person, but I am sure someone can quickly identify the person) allegedly made racist comments directed towards African Americans. The African American community called for a boycott of the designer’s clothing items. Now, I am sure, due to today’s racially charged climate, a lot of Caucasians are wary of interjecting their protest, so I will take the time to say what needs to be said. This is wrong on all levels, and African Americans of good-will must be the first to condemn such statements.
I became aware of the Peele comment just yesterday (July 25, 2020), so I felt the need to respond, but that is not the principal intent of this blog post. I intended to return to the issues I have with Evangelicals in 2020. The last post dealt with a look at the matter from a Caucasian Evangelicals perspective. As promised, I will now look at the subject through the African American Evangelical lens.
My dear, wise, late mother would always tell my brothers and me, “Charity starts at home and then spreads abroad.” I am sure this ubiquitous maxim has many applications. What I took from my mom’s wise counsel was to focus on my issues first, and then after satisfactory addressing my problems, I could then address other matters. I liken it to the Biblical admonition to consider the board in your own eyes before considering the smote in your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
I would submit there are a large number of African Americans Evangelicals who do not demonstrate any concern to be Biblically grounded in their thinking as we attempt to address real issues that continue to plague America.
Even as the Bible reveals, we are to bring every thought captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) I see an excessive number of professing Evangelicals express surprise that anyone would have any issue with anyone supporting the worldview of the Black Lives Matter organization. To my utter dismay just this week, when I took exception to African American Evangelicals supporting the BLM organization, I was called a Coon and a Buffon.
Why was this salacious and very demeaning charge leveled at me, you might ask? Well, according to the accuser, I have been brainwashed by the folks at Fox News (editor note: I don’t even watch Fox News nor any of the other news networks).
These recent weeks have seen numerous pastors, both AA, and Caucasians, naively and foolishly condone the actions of the rioters. We have seen the citizens of Seattle declare themselves sovereign from the United States of America with the support of the local officials, including the Mayor of Seattle.
We have witnessed AAs actually advocating the defunding of the police. I personally have a fraternity member with an advanced degree (which only illustrates it is never worldly wisdom that is needed or even desired) that openly espouses the defunding of the police. It is inconceivable that any mature Evangelical would ever support such an anti-biblical position. We have the clear teaching of Holy Scriptures that God ordains authorities (Roman 13). When we reject God’s appointed agents, we only do so by dismissing the sovereignty of God Himself.
We have AA making claims that are not supported by the facts. The common refrain is police brutality is an alarming and ever-increasing problem. Yet, there is no evidence whatsoever to support that contention. One such data point one can use is the data the FBI keeps. In 2019 there forty-two documented cases of police shooting an unarmed citizen. Of those forty-two cases, if police brutality is an alarming problem towards AA, you would expect the number to be exponentially higher for AAs. Yet, that is not the case, of the forty-two cases, twenty-one actions were against Caucasians, and eleven times AAs were the victims (the remaining ten cases were spread out among various other ethnicities). Let there no mistake, even one instance of police brutality against one American citizen, of any ethnicity, is one immoral police action too many. As Americans, we should demand, without exception, the police officials responsible are swiftly and decisively held criminally liable.
Yet, even with that caveat noted, we have many AAs ridiculing the actor, Terry Crews, for the audacious crime of positing that, “All white people are not bad people and all black people are not good people.” I happened to wake up one day and scrolled through my Facebook feed, and I kept seeing these mocking posts about Terry Crews. I confess I purposely do not follow the usual public banter about movie stars, so I asked someone what happened that Crews was facing so much backlash. Someone finally shared with me the source of Crew’s scorn.
Our society has really lost its moral mooring if we can vilify anyone for making the innocuous type statement that Mr. Crew made. I would submit the real source of the public scorn for Mr. Crew was his refusal to align himself with the Black Lives Matter organization.
I would submit just as it is racist that Jordan Peele can openly state he would not hire a “white dude” it is just as racial and patently ignorance of having an issue with the belief that not all white people are bad people. What happened to charity where we think the best of people unless they give us due warrant to believe otherwise. What happened to Dr. King’s eloquent wish that we judge people based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. What happened to it is impossible to love a God you have never seen but hate your brother (1 John 4:20)? What happened to Jesus’ teaching in response to the question of “who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:25-37).
Anyone that professes Jesus Christ as both Savior & Lord and displays fruits worthy of repentance is my dear, dear Brother or Sister in Christ. I want to draw special attention to the displaying fruit worthy of repentance part of my last statement. It comes from the mouth of John the Baptist (JTB) (Matthew 3:8). Frankly, we have loads of people claiming the name of Christ, but not speaking like Christ speaks, acting like Christ would act or holding positions that Jesus Christ would never hold.
This week has been startling on so many levels. I have someone who posits she is a believer openly declares she does not see any problem whatsoever with Evangelicals supporting the BLM organization. Mind you; this is not the same thing as saying the slogan “Black Lives Matter” is organically true. This professing believer acknowledges she is aware the BLM organization is grounded in Marxist ideology. She is someone conscious of the BLM organization’s desire to upend Western patriarchy.
The desire to upend Western patriarchy statement alone, all by itself, should be enough for any committed Evangelical to flee the BLM organization without hesitation. Yet, I am the one who is accused of a lack of critical thinking skills. I am one who is the naïve victim of brainwashing because I get my news from Fox News. I was even informed I am not as Evangelical as I might think. I received my notice of inadequacy from a former church member of the church I attended while living in Illinois. I received this criticism about my lack of critical thinking from an old comrade in the US Army. I received this condemnation from a fellow fraternity member.
While I understand criticism comes with the territory. I criticize as well, that is how the world goes round and round. My problem is when I have a fraternity brother tell me I am a liar because I categorize BLM as a Marxist organization. My angst is when my former church member informs me my thinking is inadequacy because by my former church member’s logic espousing BLM is Marxist because the worldview of its founders is like someone being gay and working on a COVID task force (this logic is pure lunacy. The supposition is not whether they are Marxist members of the BLM. The relevant argument is the founders of the organization are Marxists. Thus, there is a tremendous difference between what the founders of an organization believe as opposed to what a member of the organization may think).
I close with a bold accusation. Most African Americans are guilty of groupthink. One only needs to look at the data. Is police brutality a significant problem in America? Curiously most African Americans would boldly and passionately proclaim by answering in the affirmative. There is only a pretty significant problem with that conclusion. Where is the data to support that hypothesis? When you look, there is none? If I am wrong, please educate me with data.
African American Evangelicals will vote for Joseph Biden to the tune of 85% or higher. Please note I am not referencing African Americans in general but for African American Evangelicals. The individuals who posit the Bible is their sole authority that binds their conscience. The men and women who pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ as both Lord & Savior.
I challenge African Americans, especially African American Evangelicals, let us return to our prideful roots. It is not widely known but immediately after the end of slavery, and for many years afterward, the African American family was a stable and prosperous nuclear family. We took pride when the banks wouldn’t give us a loan; we started our own banks. When we could not get insurance, we started our own insurance companies. When we were not allowed to participate in mainstream entertainment, we started our own vaudeville retinues.
It was only after the poverty programs of the 1960’s that we started to notice a precipitous fall of the presence of the male in the AA home. Now, over 75% of African American homes have no male. Even during the most ardent times of Jim Crow, the African American incarceration rate was 25% lower than it is today.
Can anyone adequately explain how racism is to account for the disappearance of the black male in the home? No one forced me to father the three children God has blessed me to raise. I grew up in one of the tougher neighborhoods on the Southside of Chicago. Yet, all things considered, my three brothers and I made it to adulthood relatively unscathed.
Of course, I give all praises to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for this good fortune. He is the ultimate fountainhead of all good and perfect gifts. Yet Christ does not work through osmosis. There is a part we have to play as humans. There were real choices my brothers and I had to make as young African American males. Much of the credit, humanly speaking, goes to the best parents in time and space for Ronnie, Rodney, Renaldo, and me. We would not be the men we are today, not for their dogged determination that we have a better life than they had. I say in their painful absence: Well done, Mom & Dad! Mission Accomplished!!!
My African American brethren, I plead with you. Be consistent in your cries against racism. Repudiate in the strongest terms the racist statements of Jordan Peele. Repudiate most persuasively the ideology of the Black Lives Matter organization while emphatically and unapologetically standing up for all Black lives, especially those in the womb who are the most vulnerable among us.
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16). This is our only hope for today and evermore.
As always, I write with much trembling and fear. To the degree, I am accurately representing God in what I write and say then to Him be the glory. To the degree I am off-base, then I plead His mercy and forgiveness.
Either way, let me know what you think. I only ask that you reply to what I have actually said, not what you believe me to be saying. Gladly make your counter-argument, but please be ready to be challenged to support your thesis with facts. That is what I have tried to do though I know I am yet clay in a wooden jar.
Until the next time, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.