Friday, June 25, 2010

I Agree With Her,Ask Me Why. Woman Sues Church For Performing Gay Unions

I posted this video under the same heading as this video is posted here. A conversation ensued and here is an excerpt of my comments.

It’s the bottom line of the financial transaction that I agree with. Whether or not its a place to fellowship and worship it is a place in which the good sister Williams has invested considerable time and money only to have her voice muted by the pastors of the church. I am not looking at the particular issue as much as I am looking at the principle. I think she's wrong about gay marriage but I think someone who invests as much time and money as she did deserves to have her voice heard and she deserves to have the pastor consider her voice in the shaping of her/his own theological interpretations (to use Mark's language) its not just about money its also about time and effort but you can't get either of those back. You can get money back.

This is a question for me of entitlement and empowerment in the Black Church. For me it is a question of gender equality and social justice in the Black church. For the most part women and gay men form the financial and logistical back bone of Black churches but the overwhelming majority of pastors, deacons and trustees are heterosexual (at least heterosexually identified) MEN. The voices of women and gay men tend to marginalized in Black churches even though they constitute a majority of the active and contributing members.

Here is the story of a Black woman, who may have been wrong about her reasons, but who stood up for the value of her voice in the decision making process within the church. If you paid attention to the clip you hear the co-pastorial husband and wife team say that THEY (the two of them) wrote the vision statement for the church. Now I have done a number of strategic planning sessions both as a participant and as a leader of the process and I can tell you that it is absolutely inappropriate for two people to write a vision statement for any organization, religious or otherwise, without input from a diverse group of stake-holders. This is why I believe that woman was right. Not because of money, not because of her beliefs about homosexuals but because of the way that they marginalized her voice in the running of the church after what seems to me to be considerable contributions of time and effort from her.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missionaries of Hate: Vanguard

Watching this video my reaction is in many ways conflicted and the only thing that is perfectly clear to me about my response is that I am disturbed greatly. My conflict comes from many places not the least of which is the fear that Africa's story at the mercy of white story-tellers has always been skewed by the arrogant/white supremacist western lens. My cursory glance at this series does little to discourage these feelings. Being carried through one of Uganda's market places upon the gaze of a white camera crew who at the moment that Black Ugandans speak about there spiritual and political believes decides to take us into a gathering of flies on various cuts of meat for sale reveals to me the sad truth that white people who do these kinds of "documentaries" about Africa always have as one of their key agenda items the advancement of white supremacist ideas/notions about Africa and African people.

Another source of conflict for me is that the Ugandan people who I hear speak about this horrific bill are actually responding less (as I hear it)to homosexuality and all the ick that it apparently carries for them and more to the very phenomenon that I describe above: White supremacy and imperialism. They are responding to white supremacy, imperialism and western influence in the same way that the people of one of Atlanta's poor neighborhoods (Kirkwood and East Atlanta) responded to gentrification in 1998. While the media brilliantly crafted the controversy into a Gay vs Black situation it was clearly poor Black people reacting to a threat to their way of life posed not by homosexuality but by the TAKE OVER of elitist white supremacy that Gays have been conflated with by our friends on the far right and in the conservative media.

Minister Simba declares that Homosexuality has been to Africa but Human Rights for Homosexuals have not... He goes on to talk about how the west is not going to "push it down our throat." The brilliance of the conservative propaganda machine is revealed here creating the same association with authenticity and anti-gay conservative Christianity for the Ugandans (showed in this film) that they have created for many "red blooded" Americans. So part of being a Red Blooded American and Part of Being an authentic African is the rejection of a value system take over that has also been invented by the conservative-Christian-propaganda machine.

While I am absolutely disturbed by Black people and the homophobia that we often perpetuate in our own communities I have to point out that I do not believe that African people are so committed to oppressing gay people as they are committed to an authenticity/pride that imperialism has left many grasping for desperately and that the conservative-Christian propaganda machine has successfully juxtapositioned against gayness. Homophobia in Africa and among Africans in the Diaspora is a by product of western imperialism and a critique of African homophobia in either location that fails to recognize this fact is, to me, white supremacist. Further the rejection of western values, whiteness, and elitism among the marginalized folk of the world is often articulated as a rejection of homosexuality. The sooner we recognize these truths the sooner our liberation and coalition building strategies will be crafted to respond appropriately.