The Great Pretender ‘Reverends’

Black Clergy

Someone please tell me this is not a serious news story: “Al Sharpton calls for emergency meeting to address ‘appalling’ all-white Oscar nominees.”

My first reaction was laughter, as I was sure it was a media joke of sorts. “An emergency meeting by civil rights leaders” to discuss the Oscars? C’mon, man! But then I Googled it and, sure enough, there was a multitude of entries relating to the “reverend” calling for an emergency meeting to enforce real-world politics on the make-believe world of film making. Somebody correct me, but last time I checked, Hollywood was 98 percent about make-believe.

Apparently “Reverend” Al Sharpton, et al, have so completely resolved the less serious problems in the black community that they can now focus their attention on the real problems in the make-believe world of Hollywood. Well, I guess the good news is, if we can now focus our attention on the home of Cinderella, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, then we must have arrived in Neverland.

The real-world problems of race in America have obviously been resolved if our “civil rights” leadership can now focus on a lack of black people being acknowledged for being really good at pretending to be something or someone. If no black people are acknowledged as being good at pretending, doesn’t that immediately bring us to the question of the rights of green people not being respected by Hollywood’s treatment of the Hulk? I obviously need help here.

Growing up as the son of a school teacher who was also a Sunday school teacher, church pianist and wife of “Reverend” Kinchlow, I have a different perspective on the duties and focus of “reverends.” First and foremost, they focused on “preaching the Gospel.” They taught us life was about how we lived here to get there. It was about biblical morality, “loving thy neighbor,” “doing unto others” and living “Christ like.” “Reverends” were who we looked to for standards of behavior to live lives pleasing to God while on earth. We were taught and encouraged to live moral lives. “Reverends” taught moral standards and godly principles.

Young black men and women were taught to “keep your pants up and your dresses down.” Unfortunately, that “old-fashioned nonsense” has apparently been thrown aside by the “Reverend” Sharpton types of today, as evidenced by the facts that more than 72 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock and, according to the 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders.

Were there some who used their “Reverend-ship” for personal gain? Yes there were, among them Daddy Grace, Father Divine and a number of “bishops.” Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority taught moral precepts taken from the Bible. The black community, despite the best efforts of racists, held together, prayed together and adhered to biblical principles that were the foundation stones of our nuclear families.

We also looked to these “reverends” for civil rights leadership in our community. We prayed to the God of Israel and sang, “We shall overcome someday.” Revs. Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Wyatt T. Walker, Joseph Lowery and Jesse Jackson were the men who led us up the paths to civil rights. They were men who seemed to embody the teachings of “turning the other cheek” and the practice of “nonviolent” protests against real, not virtual, racism. Some of us, less inclined to “turn the other cheek,” followed the oratory of people like Malcolm X, “Obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

Racism policies that were common “back in the day” would not be even remotely tolerated today. Black people’s problem wasn’t not being recognized for pretending, butfor not being acknowledged for pretending. Hey, on second thought, maybe “Reverend” Sharpton is right: Perhaps black people should be nominated for Oscars for “Pretense.”

We have come a long way, baby, when a “civil rights leader” can make headlines for complaints about people of color not receiving accolades for pretending. Back in the day, our reward for “pretense” was not an Oscar nomination, but often another day of life.

I pretended – “acted” – like I was not insulted when, as a member of the U.S. Air Force returning from the Middle East, I smiled when I was called “boy” and sent to a colored restroom or water fountain. We looked for colored motels and colored restaurants when we traveled. (Just as a point of information, while we paid the same price for gas, the service stations usually had three restrooms – white men, white women and colored; colored men and women used the same room.) We smiled and said “Sir” to people younger than ourselves and grinned and pretended we were not angry at being turned away from public places and being called the “N” word.

I am confident his next sermon on racist killings will be at a demonstration he will doubtless lead in Chicago, home of another “reverend,” Jesse Jackson. Why do I think this? Well, since he was so exercised about the death of Michael Brown, he has got to be even more outraged by the fact that during the days since Brown’s death, more than 250 teens have been killed in Chicago, most of them black males. I know we can all rest assured that these two “crusaders for the cause” will not be deterred from demonstrating and demanding justice just because the overwhelming majority of these black teens were killed by other blacks.

In honor of his unbiased, non-racist, apolitical stance for human rights for all, I think it would be appropriate to nominate the “reverend” for the Academy Honorary Award. After all, who has done a better job of pretending his primary concern is for black folks and not “Reverend Al”?

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