Black Racial Solidarity On Display At Michael Brown’s Funeral

If there was any doubt that blacks have chosen their racial and cultural expressions of black identity and racial solidarity over- and at the expense of- their religious identity, one needs to look no further than the televised funeral of Michael Brown.

The attendees of this funeral- some of which include Snoop Dog, P Diddy, Al Sharpton, TD Jakes, Spike Lee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several representatives from the White House- are speaking and acting in ways that are counter to the gospel of Christ. Not only were they performing (black expressions of religiosity like ‘catching the Holy Ghost’) and exaggerating for the cameras, but those chosen to speak at the funeral are continuing to repeat the lies and distortions about Brown the media helped perpetuated like Brown being a “gentle giant”; that he was simply, “walking down the street”; that he was shot while his “hands were up”- even though mounting evidence contradicts these disputed claims.  This canard was preached and cheered because for the funeral attendees, racial solidarity with one another for the cause of Michael Brown means more than, truth.

Speaking of lies, a friend of the Brown family stood in the pulpit and said with a straight face, that Michael Brown was a gentle guy, and on the day he died, Brown was out ‘spreading the word of Christ’. This was an absurd and embarrassing lie if there ever was one. Unfortunately for the speaker- and the speaker no doubt knows this- there’s video surveillance showing Brown using his height, weight and strength to bully a convenience store owner while he stole a box of cigarillos. Not sure if this qualifies as the peaceful evangelism, or ‘spreading the word of Christ’ normally associated with Christian missionaries.

The speakers are also continuing to talk about “justice” for Brown, even though some evidence suggests that Brown may have been culpable in his own death. I’m not suggesting that Brown deserved to die, but I am suggesting that if some of the hearsay turns out to be true- specifically that Brown did assault the police officer prior to his shooting, then it’s no surprise that he ended up shot, which resulted in his death. But this is of no matter for black supporters of Brown because black racial solidarity takes precedence.

But more to the point, what exactly does ‘justice’ mean when used in reference to- and demanded– for Brown? And what about ‘justice’ for officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown? Again, if the evidence confirms the justifiable use of force of Wilson, against Brown, what about ‘justice’ then? That this is never asked by people purporting to be Christian, is very problematic.

Justice, particularly biblical justice that’s connected to righteousness– the justice that is required of- and characterized- by God, is not and cannot be compartmentalized. Justice is a disposition that permeates the entire being and an entire way of life. It’s not characterized by deceit, slander or falsified information. Thus, by definition, there cannot be “justice for Brown” in the way it’s demanded from his supporters, while at the same time ensuring justice for officer Darren Wilson who may have been… justified… for using force. Or in other words, there can’t be ‘justice’ for Michael Brown apart from or at the expense of justice being meted out for the situation in its entirety. If these people, these so-called Christians, truly sought justice, they wouldn’t attempt to partition it, or pervert it, in the manner in which they have done and continue to do.

For example, one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) clearly says that one should not give false testimony against one’s neighbor, which is juxtaposed with Jesus’ warning in Matthew 12: 36 that everyone will have to account for what they’ve said come the day of reckoning. It seems that many of Brown’s supporters- because they repeat what increasingly appears to be untrue- are in direct and continued violation of this directive.

Further, Exodus 23: 1-3 and 7-8, shows that God clearly warns against spreading false reports in addition to resisting the pressure of following the crowd in doing wrong in perverting justice. This verse directly and immediately applies to all the rabble-rousers, “community activists/organizers,” “preachers,” celebrities and other Brown supporters in Ferguson and across the country. Every time the claim is repeated that Brown was “walking with his hands up,” when he was shot, which contradicts the autopsy report- until we have more detailed evidence, is false. Again, blacks standing pretentiously and sanctimoniously in racial solidarity is more important than truth. More specifically, for many blacks, racial solidarity is truth.

Lastly, Deuteronomy 16:19-20 teaches that people should not pervert justice by showing partiality; we are to follow justice and justice alone. In my opinion, based on the rhetoric heard during Brown’s funeral and the events that have taken place since Brown was shot, we’ve seen and heard nothing but partiality. This partiality is in favor of Brown, regardless of- and prior to- evidence released in relation to the investigation of Brown being killed. To be fair, many supporters of officer Wilson also show partiality in his favor, but it does not appear to be as transparent and egregious as what’s been witnessed from the sympathizers of Brown’s family.

To be blunt, it should be clear that the rhetoric from the Brown family supporters is proof that what they want isn’t justice; they want vengeance. Now one can argue that in some situations, vengeance is justice- or at the very least, justice and vengeance are two sides of the same coin. And one might have a point; but not here. These people want vengeance and from what has been said and demanded in the name of ‘justice’ (calling for Wilson’s firing and being indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with murder- regardless of evidence), is really not justice at all. It’s vengeance saturated with black racial solidarity.

The funeral attendees also heard Sharpton preach about ‘blackness’- what it is and what it’s not. His sermon aside- this is the schizophrenia which afflicts black Christians. This schizophrenia is characterized by attempting to personify dual identities held in tension with one another, that inevitably brings both identities into competition with one another. Once those identities come into conflict, the holder of these competing identities must chose which identity takes preference and which identity must be subjugated. Jesus taught that one cannot serve two masters. For the black Christian, his Christian identity is generally subjugated to his black identity, which goes against the admonition of Paul’s teaching- aside from not regarding anyone from a worldly point of view- that those who’re in Christ are new creations, with new perspectives.

Blacks continued cultic practice of racial empathy and solidarity, worshiping at the altar of race, has had devastating consequences, many of which have been on display during the last two weeks in Ferguson Missouri. Any hope of spiritual redemption of black Americans must be predicated on their black identity being subjected to their Christian identity. They must eschew racial solidarity in favor of familial solidarity in Christ. Then and only then can blacks have a chance to overcome self-inflicted pathologies, which have negatively characterized their communities across the country for far too long.


Ferguson Riots and Black Stigma

Rather than waiting until the specific details concerning the #MichaelBrown case were released- like the specifics of the autopsy, the detailed officers report, the toxicology report or the result of an investigation into Brown’s death- Ferguson residents decided to act. Not having learned anything from the media circus that accompanied and manipulated the previously exploited racial cause celebre, Trayvon Martin, locals took to the streets with retread chants of “justice,” homemade signs of protest, and a willing media hoping to exploit Brown’s death at the hands of- at that time- an unknown but racist, white officer.

The ensuing nights brought out the worst- looted and burned businesses, vandalized property; so-called civic leaders looking to “organize” and protest- the most awful and self-serving of which are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Regardless of the feelings one may have about the case- the details of which are still forthcoming, we’re in need of some honest reflection about the behavior of people assembling in Ferguson.

The self-destructive, self-defeating behavior on display in Ferguson is inexcusable, unjustifiable and unbecoming of people who are obligated to comport themselves in a manner expected from their racial counterparts. We do a disservice to the residents of Ferguson by taking a sympathetic and accommodating view of these anti-social, regressive behaviors- the majority of which are committed by blacks. Sympathizing with these behaviors- the looting, vandalizing, personal violence, confronting and provoking law enforcement- is the equivalent of excusing them, which emboldens the participants. Further, these acts are committed at the expense of law-abiding residents whose lives have been disrupted by this turmoil – the majority of those lives being black.

This dysfunction- aside from being disgraceful- presents severe economic consequences for the residents of Ferguson. While these vandals have looted and destroyed property while reveling in their own self-created chaos, they proved to many why opening businesses in these areas simply isn’t worth the risk. The violent social disorder sends the message to would be proprietors that attempts to locate businesses in these neighborhoods isn’t worth it because the economic and physical risks are too great.

What the country has witnessed during these pathetic events stems from a moral decay. There is a noticeable absence of moral values and ethical virtues in the country as a whole, but this deficiency is concentrated in the inner cities/poor neighborhoods, which unfortunately are disproportionately populated by blacks. Here, American values are rejected and the church has flunked its mission. The optics are devastating; the stigma associated with these sorts of incidents and behaviors, characterized by a subculture represented by a certain and distinguishable element, are projected onto blacks as a whole, seemingly and unfairly defining an entire race by the negative behaviors and cultural influence of a relative few.

Whether the disruptive behaviors the country has witnessed in Ferguson are from Ferguson residents or are from self-seeking opportunists bussed in from other areas is really of no consequence. Yes, outside influences may have tarnished Ferguson’s reputation, but bad values – just like good values – are transported by the very individuals who embrace and personify them. People, regardless of race, shouldn’t hesitate to condemn and shun these behaviors out of fear of- or allegiance to- political correctness. I don’t expect many whites to publicly condemn this condemnable behavior, though many earnestly desire to do so. Whites have been culturally conditioned into silence- withholding honest commentary and astute observations on race, particularly when those commentaries include blacks, because such common sense has been labeled “racist,” by the racial gatekeepers/racial grievance industry, regardless of how benign- or true- the explanations may be.

But the realization is that the stigmas of these disgraceful activities and the inverted morality behind them, are projected onto blacks as a whole, and are extremely difficult to overcome.

The point is- to use a sports metaphor, blacks have swallowed their whistle. We’ve forfeited our obligation of self-policing our own community when it comes to condemning self-destructive behavior. We’re far too hesitant to publicly confront conduct that undermines our reputation and which stunts our socio-economic growth and progress. Blacks are guilty of engaging in the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ when we refuse to denounce disruptive behaviors of members of our own community. We don’t rightfully confront those who, in the words of Bill Cosby, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Instead, we excuse detrimental behavior. We’ve destigmatized behavior, minimizing the shame that used to accompany dysfunctional, destructive activity. We justify our excuses of counterproductive behavior- and the actual behaviors themselves- as a result of the “legacy of slavery and discrimination.” We believe we’re entitled to behave in ways that are above reproach. We act as if we have– or are– a standard unto ourselves, separate and apart from- and unaccountable to- the standard society expects- demands– from our racial counterparts. By continuing to excuse behavior that’s inexcusable for the rest of society, we’ve sullied our reputation, proving in the eyes of many that we’ve spent our currency as a moral, cultural and political force. The bar has been set so low that many don’t expect anything more than what’s on display in Ferguson (or Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Oakland…).

Yet when we are called out on this truth, we predictably and reflexively react, claiming that s/he that offers the critique, is “racist.”  As a result, the behaviors of a disproportionate few have come to define blacks as a whole in the eyes of wider society. In other words, blacks perpetuate the very stereotypes used against us.

People don’t do blacks any favors when the behavior we’ve seen in Ferguson and elsewhere are excused by white enablers or black defenders. Blacks must realize that racial solidarity and racial empathy is much less important than dealing with the Sisyphean task of overcoming the stigma associated with undistinguished behaviors.

Blacks have a moral obligation to reclaim the values and dignity that are worthy of respect and admiration.  It is incumbent upon blacks, particularly the black middle class, to forthrightly and aggressively condemn the attitudes and behaviors that thwart our progress and impugn our individual and collective character.

And it begins with condemnation of stigma-creating behaviors.