The first time I saw a naming ceremony in person was in Tallahassee. A young couple presented their first born son to a community of elders, peers, and children and charged us to be his collective guiding force, protector, and reminder…
I tell my kids to only correct an elder if they know they’re wrong and it makes a difference. This is one such occasion. Rev. Jasper Williams stood in our sacred sanctuary yesterday, postured himself over our queen, and spewed such senseless sophistry that it cannot go without disputation.
He based his arguments about the state of Black America and his claim that we’ve lost our souls on the following assertions, without critically analyzing the root causes and supplying context for each:
Premise 1: Black fathers are no longer in the home.
Premise 2: Black mothers cannot raise Black men.
Premise 3: There were more Black people killed by Black people than by the KKK.
Premise 4: Black lives won’t matter until they matter to Black people and we stop killing ourselves.
Every single premise lacks foundation and absolves the calculated design of systemic oppression that is the incipience of this country. His heresy gave voice to every bigoted and self- loathing doctrine that we espouse and its repetition throughout church chambers and pulpits can be cited as a direct factor in the absence of youthful Black bodies in our pews. Black men didn’t leave our homes simply because they tired of responsibility. Black women have been raising Black men successfully with the support of a village, but solely primarily for decades because in many cases, they had to do so. Queen Mother Aretha Franklin was one such Black woman. Comparing the documented actions of a subset of a group to the actions of an entire group is misleading and beguiling. And, we can look at history and see that our lives only mattered when the economic value of them was a benefit to White wealth. We weren’t killing ourselves in slavery, Reconstruction, etc., and yet, our blood still stained the streets. His arguments were unfounded and full of holes.
In short, his views were flawed at best and detrimental and disrespectful to our collective and our Queen Mother Aretha Franklin at its core. She didn’t deserve this, and neither did we.
And, if you are sitting in a congregation under the echo of such bile, it’s time to pick up thy pew and walk.