Nation Building or Sunday School?
Taking a break from multiple projects I needed to write this. Last saturday night/ Sunday morning I watched The State of Black America on C-SPAN which was hosted by Tavis Smiley and featured a number of prominent and well known black folks such as Al Sharpton, Cornel West and Louis Farrakhan.
While much of the discussion featured Stuff We've Heard Before (tm). I was bothered by the centrality that religion, specifically Christianity, played in the discussion. This centrality was highlighted by two things that happened:
a) Cornell West suggested that as a Christian he had a right to critique a [Christian] leader "In the name of Jesus." and
b) Farrakha's "suggestion" that 'we" sit down with the Bible and learn how to learn from it (or teach from it) "properly."
Now on the first issue, I had to ask, why is it that a critique can only come from another Christian "in the name of Jesus"? If we are discussing Black issues then anyone with a vested interest in, and bonafides in struggle should be able to level any researched and fact based critique at any figure, be they Christian, Muslim or whatever. On the second point: I am all for "correctly teaching the Bible." So long as that correct teaching starts with the Khemetic texts from which it is based. However, it would be foolish and indeed destructive to black culture to make the Bible the basis of some kind of political movement in the Black community. In fact I would say it would be a mistake for any religious text to be the basis of mobilization. We have ample evidence of what irrational "God told me so", leadership can do when taken to it's extreme.
Malcolm X pointed out that the best means for us to organize is on the basis of what we have in common. And that what we have in common is being victimized by White Supremacists. He correctly pointed out that leaving our religion 'in our closets" would prevent belief based disagreements from occuring. Already we see how Conservative Christians are using their "common ground" with Black Christians in order to splinter them off on issues that have next to nothing to do with the black communities. For example, There are black ministers who rail against homosexuality and use that as a reason to support Bush and others, Yet they have churches full of homosexual men and women. They also have people who are known fornicators and adulterers and yet they don't have shit to say about that. I know of many churches with such persons in leadership positions, where the dirt of thier leaders and members of the flock are known and tolerated. Fact is, if you can't keep your house in order, you have no business trying to sell us on your show.
But perhaps this only bothers me as a non-Christian and non-Muslim (which in black communities are almost the same thing). I'm sorry that Tavis, decided to play to his audiences prejudices and let the whole religion thing slide. I would not have done so, but who am I?