Last week, musical legend Aretha Franklin was (finally) put to rest. Toward the end of the home-going celebration, Reverend Jasper Williams Jr. stood at the podium and gave the worst eulogy in the history of dead people. Most people, including myself, felt like this wasn’t the place or time for the Atlanta clergyman to chastise black Americans for a wide range of perceived failures: calling households without father figures “abortion after birth;” claiming, “Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter;” and declaring, “Black America has lost its soul.” For those of you who didn’t watch it live, feel free to click the link (eulogy) and see for yourselves. I was disgusted. As a culture, we’ve worked hard to clear the reputation and purpose of Black Lives Matter, as an organization and slogan. To have a black religious leader stand before the world and declare that black lives don’t matter was…. Heartbreaking. This man is supposed to be a community leader, he’s supposed to be one of “us”. To hear him perpetuate the myth of black on black crime and broken black families made my blood boil. I wasn’t alone. As I live tweeted along with the rest of Black Twitter, I noticed a commonality. “See, this is why I stopped going to church.”
As the daughter of a reverend, it hurts to see how much of my demographic feels alienated from the Black church. But I understood the expression. Early last year, I was at church on a Sunday morning waiting to receive a Word but instead I got a slap in the face. For whatever reason, the pastor had invited a state trooper to come to the pulpit and give the “younger members of the congregation” advice. And I do use the word advice loosely. Instead of directing us to community resources, or reminding us of our rights as citizens- this man stood before us and said literally told us to shut up and do as instructed by law enforcement.
Oh sis. WTF.
That was my last straw. Tons of Black millennials and gen Xers had their last straws a long time ago. It sucks.
For generations, the church has been a staple in our communities and neighborhoods. In 2018, many people feel un-welcomed. This isn’t anything new, but it’s cause for concern. Where do we go? I’m not a fan of the new, hipster, wear jeans on 1st Sunday, mega churches… but I also don’t want to go to church and feel like the usher-board is judging my pantsuit.
Where do we go?
I’ve been a member of Bedside Baptist for a little over six months now. I’m getting fed spiritually but the spirit of worshiping with others is missed. Reverend Jasper Williams Jr is a bitter reminder that I’m stuck in religious limbo (think ideology not belief- I’ll always be down with G.O.D., yea you know me!).
Aretha Franklin’s family has issued a statement regarding the eulogy and they are pissed. As they should be. Jasper Williams Jr responded with a half ass apology. Hopefully, younger worship leaders are taking note and making room for all of us in their congregation.