To recap, Gospel singer Kim Burrell was this close to cashing in on crossover success when this happened. Now fellow Gospel artist, actually Gospel legend Shirley Caesar joined in when she spoke about the Burrell incident this week.
You can watch the video below, but let me give you a script of what it would have been thinking if I was in that audience on 1/4/2017.
Caesar: “We’re living in critical times now, The Lord dropped this in my spirit.”
Me: “Preach Mother Caesar”
Caesar: “Anytime you wanna say something to your church, to your members, collect the cell phones at the door”
Me: “Huh what?”
Caesar: “Everybody in here over 4,000 people in here one phone is about a million people by itself. …If there’s something that you wanna say in house, you better have the ushers get their phones and the other people’s phones, too – the ushers, the deacons, get all of their phones. Say amen, somebody.”
Me: “Oh so nobody can record you saying something that can cost or embarrass you?” Ok
Caesar: “Alot of us have made a whole lot of mistakes, if doors can talk, if hotel beds could talk,”
Me: “Okay, we have all sinned, not sure where you are going?”
Caesar: “So if you were going to say something you should’ve said it four years ago when our President made that stuff all right,”
Me: “Oh that’s where you are going, oh no.”
(she says something else but I am still stuck on the, “President made that stuff all right”, part)
Caesar: “..but now I’m learning to process it, Bishops before I speak. I’m learning to not speak too fast because once its out there its gone”
Me: “What prophetic words and not in a positive way. Yes, they are out there now Mother Caesar. You may have felt that you were called to protect your fellow pastors from undergoing the public shaming that Kim Burrell has received for her homophobic comments. But Mother Caesar, who will protect their LGBTQI members from them and you?”
Rev. Gerald Palmer is a Husband,Father,Ordainded Reverend, Social Worker, Preacher, Teacher, Activist, Believer in Social Justice, and a Believer in Jesus Christ
Unless you have been under a rock hiding from 2016, you have heard about a course being offered during Spring 2017 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison titled The Problem with Whiteness. This groundbreaking course is taught by Dr. Damon Sajnani, Assistant Professor.
There are multiple stories regarding this course and how it represents racism; so many that I wanted to get to the truth. Is this course racist?
Let’s start with the actual description of the course found on the University of Wisconsin-Madison website. It reads:
The Problem of Whiteness
Professor Damon Sajnani
“There is no Negro problem in the United States,
There’s only a white problem.”
“How does it feel to be a problem?”
Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “no.” But here is your chance! In Frantz Fanon’s famous Black Skin, White Masks (1952), his chapter “Look, a Negro!” interrogated the meaning and experience of coming to know oneself as Black under the constant scrutiny of the white gaze. It is an experience concomitant with W.E.B. Du Bois’s observation that under systemic racism, even well-meaning whites are constantly asking, in one way or another, “what is it like to be a problem?” But, Like Richard Wright’s quote above, philosopher George Yancy’s book, Look, a White! (2010), turns the question around, and rightly returns “the problem of whiteness” to white people. After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it? Our class begins here. We will come together with our socially ascribed identities of Black, white, mixed and other and, with the problem properly in its place we will ask ourselves and our allies, what are we going to do with it?
Critical Whiteness Studies aims to understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy. Our class will break away from the standard US-centric frame, and consider how whiteness is constructed globally, with particular attention to paradigmatic cases like South Africa. Whereas disciplines such as Latino/a, African, and Asian American studies focus on race as experienced by non-whites, whiteness studies considers how race is experienced by white people. It explores how they consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism and how this not only devastates communities of color but also perpetuates the oppression of most white folks along the lines of class and gender. In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, “treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.”
Readings will include:
W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920. “The Souls of White Folks” in Dark Water
George Yancy, 2010. Look, a White!
Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2015. Between the World and Me
Damon Sajnani, 2015. “Rachel/Racial Theory: Reverse Passing in the Curious Case of Rachel Dolezal”
Tim Wise, 2016. White Lies Matter: Race, Crime, and the Politics of Fear in America
I found the following sentence from the course description as a great starting point for discussion:
” After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it?”
One Summer not too long ago, I was teaching Introduction to Social Work at a local community college and approached it like I always had before, with challenging and thought provoking discussion.
We were discussing race and racism when I wrote the formula for institutional racism as Racism= Prejudice + Power. Like I had done semesters before, I asked. “According to this formula what race has benefited from racism, institutional racism and how?”.
Before I could add my usual, “What does this mean to you”.. a white student stood up and he stated, “This is bullshit, why am I blamed for something that I didn’t do?” I assured him that this was a great question as I tried to guide him into a rational and calm discussion. It did not work, he stormed out of class and went straight to the Dean’s office declaring how racist I was. While in the Dean’s office it was reported to me that he mentioned my race numerous times and how he felt attacked because he was white.
Concerned with the thought of mistreating a student, I had a discussion with other faculty members about their experience with discussing the same subject matter and none of them had ever had my experience. One professor who teaches courses on race and racism broke my naivety when she stated, “Gerald, you know that you can’t teach about white privilege while black”. She was joking and yet she was on point. Every other professor in my department besides three of us are white.
In my classroom I guide students through extremely controversial subjects and never allow my personal views to hijack the learning environment, (some my find that hard to believe but yes it is true). I allow students who disagree with the course material and myself the opportunity to object but you better have empirical evidence and be able to debate in a rational and professional manner. My classroom is a safe space for ideas and conversation relating to Social Work, Social Justice, and Social Issues and problems.
So back to the upset student… He returned to class the next time our class met and behaved in a passive aggressive manner until he eventually stopped coming to class.
The second student a white female, believed that since CEOs, millionaires, the President of the United States and Senators were black that power in America is not in the hands of whites any longer. So as a class we went through the list and pictures of Fortune 500 CEOs, we went through the list and pictures of the richest people in America, and we went through the list and pictures of U.S. Senators. I asked, “What do most of these people have in coming besides their wealth?” The answers were that they are mainly White and male.
To hammer home the impact of imagery we googled “beauty” and “American Patriot” or “Patriotic American” and explored what was missing? We talked about how whiteness is the scale on which beauty is measured globally. This is proven by the epidemic of those in Asia who seek plastic surgery to widen their eyes or the epidemic of black Africans who seek to bleach their skin via painful treatments.
We also discussed that when people hear America or American they think white.
The female student with tears in her eyes stated, “I never knew this, I feel ashamed”. We talked about moving pass the shame and guilt and how to move forward.
I see courses like the Problem with Whiteness as tools to help us move forward. In the course description it goes on to say:
” It explores how they (white people) consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism and how this not only devastates communities of color but also perpetuates the oppression of most white folks along the lines of class and gender.”
The truth is that this is not only a white problem or a black problem, this is an us, an US, an U.S.A. problem. We will not solve this until white people take the lead in ending institutional racism. For example, ending sexism in the workplace and beyond has to be led by men, do you see the commonalities?
So, yes I will be deemed a race baiter and a racist for having the audacity to discuss this issue while black. I wouldn’t haven’t any other way. Our children (America’s children) are needing us to solve this problem or get out of the way for those who are willing to, so that they can have a tomorrow free of the bigotry and hate.
“It is never going to go away”, some may say. My response to them is, “Hell, at least try”.
Unless you have done the smart thing and disconnected from all social media and both morning and evening news, you know about the current attack by the Conservative Christian vocal majority on transgender people. The first target was Target and the next, public school accommodations for transgender students.
With their rally cry of, “Keep our women and girls safe from men in bathrooms”this movement of propaganda and fear is making its presence felt in the very places charged to protect all students. An example of this was seen in Medford, Oregon where parents and students protested Transgender accommodation at their schools.
This fear of “boys in girl’s bathrooms” a message pushed by many Conservative Christian talking heads and groups, seems to be carrying some Christians to the point of break as seen in the message below from a concerned parent expressed on social media:
“The best solution is for mass removal of students, no students, no federal money. The problem is between the high number of single parent homes, dual income homes that usually have one parent working during the school hours an order to barely survive, and many other social problems that society has already grabbed onto as normal, most homes are not capable of doing Home School for their children. Then add in the rules and regulations certain states have for being allowed to do so and you have a nightmare on your hands. Of course there is the option of computer schools for those who don’t want to be personally responsible for their child’s education, while still removing them from these kinds of detrimental situations, but they have an enrollment limit for each sate, and many are already at their capacity- and the remainder would fill up practically overnight in the case of mass removal. This leaves the option of Christian parents of forming a teaching co-op, where they each take a subject they are good at and a time slot that works for them, and work together to educate their children. This plan of course works best if you all live near each other, and there would still be all kinds of rules to follow in certain sates about what education materials would need to be used, and possible testing. BASICALLY THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO MAKE IT AS IMPROBABLE AS POSSIBLE FOR THE KIND OF MASS REMOVAL OF CHILDREN THAT WOULD NEED TO HAPPEN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! Let’s not forget that they can arrest a parent for their child’s absentees in many states, so a straight up boycott would result in many parental arrests, removal of children, and they would be not only back in the schools you don’t want hem in, but also being raised by strangers.”
Yes, she too has been whipped into a “boys in girls showers and restrooms” frenzy. Conservative Christian leaders like Eric Metaxas are advocating this fear mongering spirit by advising parents to “seriously consider alternative educational options”. For Metaxas’ and his conservative Christian organization BreakPoint this seems to be an opportunity to make some coin.
Not to be outdone, conservative commentator David Limbaugh is calling for a country upheaval in response to Transgender accommodations in public schools. In an article titled Resisting Obama’s Transgender Directive: A Hill to Die On, David stated,
“This is a hill to die on, and if the sane states don’t fight back on this one, we might as well just completely surrender the republic today. It’s either that or eventually seeing the people rise up in a way we haven’t witnessed for many years.”
As I read and listen to the current storm of anti-Transgender hysteria propagated from my Christian brothers and sisters, I hear the voice of Jesus calling from John 13:33-35
33Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. KJV
How will all men know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ if all they see is fear and propaganda? Will the Hill of Transphobia be the hill that the credibility of Christianity as a religion of love die on? I pray not.