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”.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we no longer have to wonder what the Bible really says?
It is blasphemy for me to even say the words, “Biblical Do Over”. But yes we are in need of just that. There is nothing wrong with our current adaptations of the Christian Bible. I think the Bible is just fine. If it is not broken then why a do over?
What is broken is our interpretations. There are hundreds of Biblical interpretations as well as tens of thousands of Christian denominations and all with their distinct handling of certain scriptures.
History is littered with proof of interpretations gone bad. We have examples of people with bad intentions using good scriptures to commit bad deeds. Fueled by need to gather social, political, and/or financial influence and/or gain, these people use scripture to collect what they desire. Sometimes these people go unchallenged. How can you compete with, “The Bible says”?
In American history we have seen examples of social injustice committed with the disclaimer, “The Bible Says”. Lives have been and are disrupted and families have been/are even split in half based on whatsome thought “The Bible Says”.
Like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae of social injustice, “the Bible says” has been used to justify the slavery of black people, the almost annihilation of Native Americans, the murder of Mormons, the oppression of women, and now the oppression of LGBT people.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we no longer have to wonder what the Bible really says?
“How Gerald, how”, you ask?
“Simple”, I say.
A new edition of the Bible from the desk of God or better yet the audio book with Jesus narrating will end all of the confusion and all the manipulating of scripture to harm others. We can finally know what the authors of Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, or what ever passages that have been used to oppress others really meant.
Until then, we have what we have. We have hundreds of versions of the Bibles and thousands of Christian denominations. And we have this:
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Am I unrealistic to think that if we seek love and if we follow God’s perfection that we will be to busy seeking and following to harm others with our personal interpretations of scriptures?
Gerald is a Husband, Father, Ordained Minister, Social Worker, Educator, Social Commentator, Social Activist, LGBT Ally and all around Renaissance Man
I am black and I am a dad.
The current thought process (as of the 1960’s) is that I don’t exist. We don’t exist. To some the black dad is in the same magical land as the Easter Bunny who only shows up once a year and the tooth fairy who leaves money under a minus one tooth child’s pillow.
Tales of our non-existence have been so woven into American tapestry that sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure that we are real. We are real.
We go with our partners to well visits.
We wipe the runny noses of our little ones.
We sit in their bedrooms when they are afraid even though we have checked under their beds and in their closets for the boogey person.
We are present in their lives even if we are not living with them.
We kiss the foreheads of our sons and our daughters.
We strive to be their protectors.
We are not figments of your imagination.
We are not merely talking points to what’s wrong with black communities
We are not merely sermon fodder on Sunday Mornings when questions of, “Where are the black men?” illuminate from the pulpit.
We are real!
We are present!