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.