Black LGBT Folk To Protest Rick Warren’s MLK Day Sermon at King’s Church

The layers of the following story are a mess. But let’s jump in:

One year ago this weekend, then-Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church where he very directly challenged the Black church and by extension the Black Community on its treatment of Black LGBT folks. He said:

For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system. And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.

The leadership at Ebeneezer Baptist Church, the church that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. was pastor, and which played a huge role in the Civil Rights Movement, paid that speech no mind, and President Barack Obama doesn’t seemed to have meant much by it, either. Why? Not only does Obama choose Rev. Rick Warren (Prop 8 supporter, evolution denier and anti-choice zealot) to give the invocation at his inauguration, but Ebenezer Baptist Church has chosen this white evangelical pastor to give the sermon at the MLK Day service!

Coretta Scott King and daughter Yolanda King (both deceased) were both allies to the LGBT community, and would have flat out disapproved of this choice, and so likely would have Martin. It’s hard not to think Sharpton’s speech one week before MLK Day in Atlanta wasn’t also given as an indirect scolding of Ebenezer choosing Rick Warren. But luckily, the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, being led by two friends/comrades of mine, Paris Hatcher & Craig Washington, are leading a protest of Ebenezer this weekend to express their outrage on this choice. Southern Voice (my favorite of all LGBT newspapers) writes:

“Warren not only compares women having an abortion to Nazis, and pro-choice supporters to holocaust deniers, but he also opposed the right of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer folk to marriage, as well as [admittance] to his church,” said Craig Washington, a founding member of the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, which is organizing the protest…These views, these words, are acts of oppression. They are incompatible with the dream of the beloved community Martin Luther King envisioned, and the spirit with which Coretta Scott King founded the King Center.”

Warren “preaches a message that is dated, harmful and dangerous about our bodies, our sexualities and our communities,” said Paris Hatcher, a lesbian activist with reproductive rights group Spark!, another protest organizer.“As members of King’s beloved community, we say that all communities are sacred,” Hatcher said. “And at times like these, Atlanta needs to hear a message of love and liberation that affirms everyone, not a narrow opinion that reinforces the dialogue of oppression and shame.”

The protest is scheduled for Monday, January 19th at 9am, at the corner of Jackson & Auburn Streets, across from Ebenezer.

The reality is that we’re going to have to continue to bring it to the rest of the Black community like this from here on in.

White Catholic Priest Gets Fox News Together

I enjoy nothing more than when I can step out of the way, and let the whites get other white people together. Case in point: A Fox News reporter thought they were going to sneak attack Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago-based Catholic priest, about his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Well, that reporter  was shut down. I have to say it is quite enjoyable when I don’t have to intervene, and I can put my feet up and let’s the white duke it out.  (If you missed Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s interview with Bill Moyers, it is definitely worth watching.) Enjoy!

New Orleans: Army Corps Washed Away Accountability

My good friend Davell Crawford (the Piano Prince of New Orleans) recently covered a classic Randy Newman song called Louisiana 1927 (you can hear it by going to his home page). The lyrics chronicle the Mississippi Flood of 1927, and in Newman’s lyrics, he declares “They tryin’ to wash us away.” Davell re-writes a lyric originally about President Calvin Coolidge, and replaces him with George W. Bush.

Maybe they really are trying to wash “us” away again. It’s interesting that yesterday, John Edwards chose New Orleans to announce the halting of his presidential bid, that a federal judge begrudgingly threw out a clas action suit by the people of New Orleans against the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Associated Press reported that “Judge Stanwood Duval said he was forced by law to hold the Corps immune even though the agency failed to ‘cast a blind eye’ in protecting New Orleans and ‘squandered millions of dollars in building a levee system … which was known to be inadequate by the Corps’ own calculations.’ But, Duval said, ‘it is not within the Court’s power to address the wrongs committed. It is hopefully within the citizens of the United States’ power to address the failures of our laws and agencies.'”

What’s so sinister is the ruling was based on a law written conspicuously after the 1927 flood–the Flood Control Act of 1928–which made the federal government immune from lawsuits when flood control projects like levees break.

* * *

I was in the 9th ward just a few weeks ago–the week leading into MLK Day. It was the first time I had been back since Spring of 2005, and I had lived in New Orleans for a year. The failures of the city, state and federal government are so egregious that it is difficult to imagine that they are in fact, failures, and not actually a contrived negligence. And the failure, conspiracy or negligence (you choose!) that caused the death and displacement in the aftermath of the hurricane Katrina, is not so much about the weather. It’s about the profound racism that forced hundreds of thousands of Black people into the conditions that would mean their certain demise just by virtue of being redlined for generations on the downside of a canal, or kept in substandard public housing. Or warehoused in Orleans Parish Prison.

I was accosted one night in the French Quarter during my trip 2 weeks ago by 2 unidentified plain clothes security officers who looked like professional wrestlers–and I know they were not the NOPD. I was accused of trying to rob my friends I was just a few feet behind on my bike. So for those of us who weren’t washed away in the storm, or carted off to destinations all across the nation–the prison and the jailer awaits.

They tryin to wash us away–and absolve themselves of the responsibility.

The Dirty Dozens: Race, Civil Rights and the Democrats

It’s gettin hot in herr! The gloves are coming off, and people are now being forced to take sides. Senator Hillary Clinton has been trying to spin herself out of a whole she dug when she, at an attempt to dig at Senator Barack Obama, said that while he likes to compare himself to MLK, it took a president–Lyndon B. Johnson–to pass the Civil Rights Act.

The blacks are giving her hell over that comment, and on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” she said that the Obama campaign was “deliberately distorting” her comments.

Well I saw the interview when it aired, and no, no one is distorting her comments. She said something really politically foolish trying to one-up Obama, and she got caught out there. I thought at the time that that statement was going to come back to haunt her.

But it doesn’t end there. Saturday, Bob Johnson, founder of BET had the unmitigated gall to stand up in front of a crowd and act as the authority on Black people, and defend Clinton’s record with Black people. Johnson said

“To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved.”

He later said he was not referring to Obama’s admitted drug use. As black as the Clintons think they are, they are white enought to not realize how many Black people actually despise Bob Johnson. Many of us blame him for cutting BET news programming (and firing Tavis Smiley), and turning the channel into a video channel replete with images of violent black masculinites, hypersexualized black women, with a hefy dash of homophobia. In fact, THE SAME NIGHT he made these comments, Black folks were protesting outside the taping of a BET Awards show in DC.

Johnson is also the sleaze bag who moved the show Comic View from Los Angeles to Atlanta, allegedly in order to avoid paying unionized rates to comics appearing on the show. Not that I care about that modern day minstrel show, but it was still a low blow.

To make matters even worse, I just saw a debate on PBS’ The New Hour between SCLC veteran Rev. Joseph C. Lowry (Team Obama) and Civil Rights vet Rep. John Lewis (Team Clinton). John Lewis had the nerve to defend Clinton on the basis that “The Clintons would never do anything to harm African-Americans.” I am not sure if that’s a direct quote, but it’s definitely not far off. He said it twice.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US?

I can definitely understand why black people may not necessarily be in 100% Barack’s camp, but I certainly cannot understand why some of us back Clinton over him–and completely uncritically.

But I said a few posts ago this election was going to help expose the tensions of the civil rights old guarde as they fall out of favor. Not because Black people are more conservative, but because they are now too entrenched in the machine to be effective as agitators. And their tacit support of the Clintons against a Black candidate generally more progressive than either Bill or Hillary, is quite telling. William Jelani Cobb has a great article in the Washington Post about this very issue.

AP Distorts Andrew Young’s Statements on Obama

The Associated Press published a story about Civil Rights veteran and Atlanta former Mayor Andrew Young going on an Atlanta show saying that he thought Barack should run for president in 2016, because he is too young to run for president and that he thought, essentially, the Clintons were as black as Barack. Here’s what they quoted from the Young interview:

“I want Barack Obama to be president,” Young said, pausing for effect, “in 2016.”

“It’s not a matter of being inexperienced. It’s a matter of being young,” Young said. “There’s a certain level of maturity … you’ve got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive).”

Young went on to say that Obama needs a protective network that he currently lacks — a quality that could hurt him if he were to be elected. He said Hillary Clinton already has that kind of network, including her husband to back her up.

“There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on,” Young said. “You cannot be president alone. … To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership.”

I watched the interview on NewsMakers Live. Young did say those things. A lot of the issues I have with Young’s interview was the sexism in which he couched his views–“Clinton has probably gone with more black women than Barack.” Why does ‘how many black women you fuck’ make you implicitly a black man? That’s disgusting about what it says about black manhood and black womanhood both. Ugh. By this logic, Black women’s bodies are the only relevant as avenues for defining masculinity. That’s offensive as hell! And I am over that “Clintons are black” bullshit. Can we just really have a moratorium on that nonsense? I don’t care if they can huck-a-buck or Soul Train-line with the best of them–they’re not Black and there are countless ways the Clinton Administration sold black people down the river to save his own political career–Welfare reform act, Rwanda, massive prison expansion– hello! Lets not get political amnesia.

But what is perhaps most useful about Young’s comments, the AP report chooses barely to report. Young goes on for most of the interview to talk about how he’s worried about Obama’s (and his family’s) safety–even going so far as to say he wants Obama’s daughters to be older to deal with the way people are going to attack them.

After living through the Civil Rights Movement and what happened to King, Young is saying Barack has yet to develop the kind of insular network of folks to really protect him from the worst of what is sure to come. Essentially, he’s actually saying white racism is so fierce that Obama needs to develop more of aggressive tactics to be able to go after the forces that are most likely to undo him were he to win the presidency. And Young is drawing on the Civil Rights Movement and MLK’s experiences with violence and surveillance as the prime example.  I question Young’s assertion that King sacrificed the most personally–what about Fannie Lou Hamer or Angela Davis, or a host of others who history has forgotten who lost life and limb fighting for freedom? That’s a hard thing to quantify, even if he knew King personally. He also has a silly analysis of why Barack would be great at foreign policy–because, as Young asserts, his experience with “the Chinese” and with “Islam” via his sister and childhood upbringing, will make him adept at dealing with China and the Middle East.

OK. That’s a stretch.

That aside, it’s a wonder how the AP reporter got away with filing this half-assed story that takes the most sensational things that Young said, and doesn’t comprehensively report Young’s concern and critique–which is really about Obama’s readiness to deal with the racist/violent backlash. The reporter only gets to at the end of the story when it is actually, in my book, THE story.

And journalists wonder why the public has lost trust in them.