Tag Archives: men
This is a very difficult blog for me to write because religion is the most personal aspect of one’s life and I never want to get into anyone’s religion. “I am not perfect,” but I do have an opinion based upon what I know. Let me share it, but before I continue, I hold no man above my higher power, who I chose to call God. I also know that “religion” is a business and sometimes leaders tend to lose sight of the mission. However, my spiritual compass teaches me that what is done in the dark will come to light. For this reason, I reluctantly, offer a few thoughts concerning this mess Bishop Eddie L. Long has gotten himself into.
He came to national prominence in 2006, when his New Missionary Baptist Church hosted four U.S. presidents for the funeral of Coretta Scott King. The church sits on a 240-acre campus and has satellite churches in other cities. It is one of the largest venues in the state of Georgia. The church boasts a roster of parishioners that includes athletes, entertainers, politicians and many who are considered prominent within the African American community. Only TD Jakes is larger in terms of stature and prominence among black ministries.
Sunday morning B-Long took to the pulpit of his sprawling mega-church to address his 25,000 member congregation defiantly and confidently. “Please hear this: I have been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know that I am not a perfect man but this thing I’m gon’ fight… I feel like David against Goliath but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”
Portraying himself as the Bible’s ultimate underdog, B-Long went before thousands of his faithful supporters and promised to fight accusations that he lured four young men into sexual relationships. However, it was significant to note that he stopped short of denying the allegations while implying he was wronged by them. Nor did B-Long address the allegations directly but spoke at length about enduring painful times. He used the word “painful” nearly 20 times and “difficult” came up seven times along with a lot of scripture.
Many lined up for hours before the start of service with some wearing t-shirts that said, “Love like him. Live like him. Lead like him”, while others stood in prayer circles, clutching Bibles and singing the hymn, “Wash Me White as Snow,” then as B-Long entered the cathedral, a group of people shouted, “We love you bishop!”
Some people in the church cried even before he took the stage to give his statement followed by a brief sermon on facing painful situations. His statement: “I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man but I am not the man that is being portrayed on the television. That’s not me. That is not me.” Members of the church appear to have closed ranks around B-Long. One member said as if he was on a war footing “The devil always tries to attack the Kingdom… We will fight it on our knees with prayer and fasting. He’s not a perfect man, but God will fight on his behalf”.
B-Long made it clear that he is determined to hold on to the religious empire he built and would the fight four lawsuits alleging he used his position to coerce young male members of his flock into sex acts. In their lawsuits, the young men, all over 16 at the time of the alleged incidents, say that B-Long instructed them to call him “Daddy” and moved to block their relationships with girls by “increased contact and spiritual talk as to the covenant between the Spiritual Son and himself.”
It has been rumored that some in B-Longs circle knew about his conduct but did nothing to warn the defendants. They allege that he “has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to the point of engaging in a sexual relationship.”
B-Long is a father of four, married, and has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and his church has counseled gay members to become straight. Two of the young men say he groomed them for sexual relationships while enrolled in the church’s LongFellows Youth Academy, a program that taught teens about sexual and financial discipline. According to its Web site, it has also held weekly “out of the wilderness” counseling sessions for the “discipleship of men and women struggling with homosexuality.” The other two young men, one of whom attended a satellite church in Charlotte, N.C., have made similar claims. The men say they were 17 or 18 when the relationships began. Federal and state authorities have declined to investigate because Georgia’s age of consent is 16.
These four men, in their civil lawsuits, tell remarkably similar stories. They say that Long took a special interest in some of the young men who attended his church in Atlanta and a satellite church in Charlotte. They say he took them separately on trips to such destinations as Kenya, South Africa and New Zealand when they were teenagers — but above the age of consent in Georgia, which is 16. David-Goliath, really, I think B-Long’s got that backward.
For years, B-Long has been either beloved or bemoaned for his glitzy lifestyle and politically connected mega-church. It has TV ministries, a fitness center, a school, and a program for the homeless and addicted. In 2004, Long and Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., led a march in downtown Atlanta calling for a “return to family values in the African American community” and opposing same-sex relationships, while demanding health-care and education reform. Long was a supporter of President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives.
B-Long became one of the country’s most powerful independent church leaders over the last 20 years, turning a suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 to a 25,000 member powerhouse with a $50 million cathedral. I’m sure as a result B-Long felt he, too, should be prosperous. In 2005, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published tax records from the church showing that, from 1997 to 2000; B-Long had accepted $3 million in salary, housing and other perks from a charity he controlled. He told the newspaper: “We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. . . . I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.”
Now my questions: What if it ends up being true? Has it tarnished the good work it is said that he has done? Or does this scandal, such as the cases of child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church and the revelations that Ted Haggard, the former leader of the National Evangelical Association, allegedly engaged in sex acts with a male prostitute, prove that he is a hypocrite. I was disappointed for this reason, from what I saw I did not see a man that was innocent.
He said this is not him. Well who is Eddie Long? The upstanding father of four who came to the pulpit hand-in-hand with his wife and denounced but did not deny the allegations against him? Or the manipulative sexual con artist who, according to his four accusers, does not remotely practice what he preaches? Saint or sinner, preacher or hustler, or maybe he’s just on the “Down Low”.
Nonetheless, there were almost no sign Sunday that his flock wanted to turn him away. However, it was reported that one young man during the second service in a blue shirt stood up and shouted: “We want to know the truth, man!” He was quickly escorted out and did not return. As for B-Long he said, “I love you, New Birth… I’m not leaving you if you don’t leave me.” When he finished, the sanctuary roared with applause as B-Long dropped the microphone, took his wife Vanessa’s hand and left the stage. I hope that we will believe in God and not the goods, as that is where our salvation comes.
A few years ago I taught a college course called the Psychology of the Black Family. Recently, I was looking through some of the term papers from that class to which I became enthralled by the content. The assignment: each student was asked to write a term paper on “The Breakdown of the African American Family”. As I read through some of the thirty or so papers I found several very significant points and a common theme throughout the papers. I decided to capture some of the key points from those research papers to share with you.
I know this “Thought Provoking Perspective” may cause some controversy and maybe some hate mail. Nonetheless, my intent is to, maybe, create some dialog within our consciousness as to why the black family, our community, and black people are the least likely to work together as a solid unit to the benefit of each other as other ethnic groups do.
During slavery, and from the 1800’s through the 1980’s, the concept of family was tight knit, strongly woven, and the envy of most cultures. The African American family unit survived in spite of unimaginable cruelty and adversity. It is only recently, during the last thirty years, that the African American family became dysfunctional and lost its direction. One has to think for some twisted reason we do not feel whole because in many cases we allow others define us.
One of the students expressed that she thinks the different social pressures on black men and women have contributed to the weak traditional family structure. Black women have been able to achieve more economic and educational success than black men, leading to them being higher wage earners. This inequality has eroded black women’s reliance on men and their willingness to compromise on their needs or expectations, which in turn has led to resentment and disappointment on both sides.
Black women raise children, too often alone, and the bitterness that difficult task creates causes some women to make derogatory complaints against men in general, tainting their daughters and shaming their sons. Also, it seems that black women do not often hold their sons to as high a standard as their daughters, making them further vulnerable. If proper behavior is not modeled for young people, they have difficulty fulfilling those expectations. This creates the perfect ingredients for the dismal situations to occur in our community. She went on to add that a lot of that has to do with our values, and the lack of knowing the importance of loving our communities, our families, and ourselves.
These are 12 key factors expressed from the student’s outstanding research papers:
1. The Vietnam War: Hundreds of thousands of strong, intelligent, hardworking black men were shipped abroad to be murdered, returned home shell shocked, severely damaged, or addicted. Many of which were unable to get back on track after returning from war because the government abandoned them.
2. COINTELPRO: The covert actions of J. Edgar Hoover in the wake of the Civil Rights Era and the Black Power Movements all but insured that anyone speaking out against the governments wrong doings would receive either long prison sentences or bullets. This fear silenced our forward progression, fueling distrust, and removing many of our leaders as well as potential future leaders.
3. The Assassinations of the 1960’s: Left a huge void in leadership that has yet to be filled, particularly within the Civil Rights Movement to include within the community. Instead, a universal acceptance of the pimp/hustler image in popular culture that presented alternative heroes to black youth, which resonant in the form of Gangster Rap. This genre leads to the glorification of the criminal element amidst immature minds that lack familial structure. In addition to black on black crime and staying silent while black youth are murdered by other black youth.
4. The Feminist Movement: Backed by liberal white women to fight for the equal rights of women; the same rights most black men had yet to fully be granted. A lot of black women got lost in the rhetoric of how men were keeping them down, losing sight of the fact that black men were down there with them. To this day, the power exchange and infighting among black men and women, is sadly considered the norm, a tool enumerated by Willie Lynch.
5. Oliver North & the Contras: The volume of drugs, mainly crack cocaine that flooded the black community during the 80 to which most of the drugs came in on U.S. ships with the support of the Government. The CRACK era escalated death and incarceration rates, unwanted pregnancies, neighborhood prostitution and a culture of violence. Folks were selling their kids to hit the pipe, and selling their souls to sell what went in that pipe. This epidemic destroyed our community in ways slavery could never have done. This form of contemporary was the cruelest type of slavery imposed upon our communities.
6. Mass media brainwashing & mind control: The influences of propaganda and distorted images of beauty and male/female roles. Shows like Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, Dynasty, Different Strokes, and the Jeffersons for example. The American conscious during the 80’s was money driven. Materialism became the idea that stuff defines you and others.
7. Education: The lack of proper education, financing support, and knowledge being taught by African American professionals. In addition our leaders and academics failed us as they fled the hood in droves for the suburbs during those crazy 80’s. Prior to this period, kids saw on a daily basis married couples that looked like them, even if they didn’t live in their households. Yet the great migration to greener pastures left a void in the community leaving it to be filled by the image of the hustler-pimp-thug, ruthlessness, and violence.
8. Communication: This speaks to education of self and listening to the wrong messengers. The communication of values – parents became unavailable to hand down family legacies, traditions and value systems. We’re like POW’s locked in the same building for 20 years, unable to converse thru cement walls confined by our personas, egos, insecurities, isms etc.
9. The Black Church: Many churches have lost their way. The business of religion is bankrupting our communities. Many churches are not touching the lives of those outside of the church most in need. Just like back in the day when it was the design of slave masters, who did so much wickedness to use this as a tactic by offering a bible and in most instances nothing more than pain and a promise of a better life to keep us in line. This is not the same as faith which was necessary to survive our struggles.
10. Urbanization – work and home were once connected. Parents were near their families and children understood work as a way of life. Urbanization helped create “latch key” kids and images of hard work disappeared while replacing it with material objects.
11. Social Services: The advent of the system of welfare that demanded the absence of the influence of the black man in the home. Before Claudine during the early 50’s welfare was a Midwestern farmer hook up and back then you HAD to be a complete family to apply. So the laws for welfare changed in the inner-city while many in the farm lands of Mid America started to change in culture to fit the application for welfare. For decades to follow, trillions of dollars in government spending on ineffective social programs in our cities have not by enlarge benefited the mobility of the family.
12. Segregation: Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes that prevented legal marriages, dehumanized people, and discriminatory practices in work/education left many African Americans unable to access resources necessary to build strong family bases causing disillusioned men/husbands/fathers to abandonment rather than face daily reminder of their “failure”.
In the next post I will provide my “Thought Provoking Perspective” concerning the topic. Don’t miss it. You are welcome to add your comments, views, and perspectives.
TO BE CONTINUED…
This is a topic that I have long wanted to discuss. I know it is a very polarizing and controversial subject – but it is a crucial piece of the African American Diaspora. I think I can speak to this issue because I was not unlike many African Americans who have been touched by the consequences or aftermath of it.
My father abandoned me in the worm while my teenage mother carried me. I did not meet him until I was ten and have only been in his presence for maybe two hours in my entire life. However, my grandfather was the man in my life who taught me how to be a man. His teachings resonate profoundly within my every waking moment, which I used to raise my son and teach my grandson to include sharing the same knowledge with others, as I navigate the troubled waters of life.
We are, as a community, in crisis in terms of Black Empowered Men. These are men who give of themselves to the benefit of others, raising children, empowering the community, carry themselves with dignity and respect, but most of all “they represent”. So I believe, it may not or does not have to be your man but there has to be a man present in the lives of these children. If this was being done with vigor it would have a ripple effect. The home would be held together, the community would be greater, there would be development in the minds of our youth, and maybe the carnage that is taking place would cease.
Images are and have been projected of black men falsely, most often, glorifying our role in society as thugs, gangstas, criminals, buffoons, clowns, being worthless, and hopeless have permeated far too long. I know that many of you know that is not the case by enlarge. However, when you open your newspaper or watch TV that is how we are represented. I argue that this assassination of character should now be removed or at least diminished because the most powerful man in the world today looks like us, an African American. Adding to this, he leads a proud dignified family that is positively on display for the whole world to bare witness too, which says all things are possible.
The absence of the strong responsible black man holding it down, in the family and community, is destroying us as a people. Having said that, the purpose we live is to continue the species. I was taught a very significant lesson early in life, and reinforced every day of my life, by my Grandfather who said, “I raised you to be a man and as a man you don’t know what you might have to do but when the time comes you do it”. We don’t know what challenges are ahead of us. Therefore, my interpretation of that daily message was preparation plus opportunity equals SUCCESS and that the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he learns.
These platitudes are essential to the survival of our children and, frankly, our existence. There needs to be a man in the lives of these boys, and girls, because a father’s roll is to be an example, a role model, to guide, direct, and pass on the wisdom he’s gained. For example, how can you expect your little girl to chose a man if she has no model to base a relationship on? In addition, ladies please stop thinking that you can make your boy a man – you can’t. You can raise, teach and nurture him – but you cannot make him a man because you are not one. Now, to the ladies that are holding it down, I applaud you, I know what that enormous job is like – my mother did it and I was no walk in the park. If it had not been for Granddaddy I would be lost – dead or in jail.
I recently became involved with a group of MEN who shared my vision and passion concerning the issues that face our community. Hence, I became one of the hosts of the BLACK EMPOWERED MEN Radio show (Show link). Where our mission is designed to focused on empowering Black Men to step up to success in their Family, Spiritual, Business, and in their Communities. Join your hosts: Walt Laurel, John T. Wills, Victor Henry, Clay Williams, and James Price – EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT at 8 PM (EST).
We have also formed a Facebook group BLACK EMPOWERED MEN (Group link) where you are personally invited to join. We want to use this group as a vehicle to communicate with our listeners to provide us with feedback, suggestions, ideas, and issues you may like us to explore. In addition, please do your part to reach on teach one and get involved. Mentor someone and by all means Black Men – Stand Up in 2010…
As we travel through the journey of our lives we must endure enormous challenges. The puppet masters have devised a system designed to divide and conquer in order to maintain control over our lives. It’s worked very well for over four hundred years. I think we are now wise enough, or should be, to see this and overcome the devastating impact it has had upon us. Particularly, as it relates to our families and relationships at a time when our children are lost and dying. We need this message more than ever.
A few days ago, I received an enormously powerful message from a fellow author, Cassandra Mack, who I consider a friend. Her message was so profound and meaningful that I was actually shocked – not shocked in a negative sense. Rather, extremely impressed by her heartfelt words. The message spoke to a truth many African American’s know but fail to acknowledge or admit. It is a concern, or maybe an issue, that speaks to the fabric of our connection to one another. I firmly believe you can change the world but first you must change yourself and that means you’re prospective.
Cassandra articulated so eloquently what, dare I say, few would openly admit – let alone publish. I was so proud of her for writing this impassionate call for honest introspective thought that I felt the need to share it with you (with her permission of course):
“Brothers…We Need You Even When We Claim That We Don’t” by Cassandra Mack
There are so many scars inside of black men and women that sometimes without realizing it we tear each other down when we should be building each other up. With all that we are struggling with and against, it’s no wonder that sometimes we struggle to love ourselves and each other. But despite all of our struggles there is one thing that remains constant: My beloved brothers…My Black Kings….My Visionary men of honor and integrity…WE NEED YOU. We need you with every fiber of our being and every inch of our soul. Trust and believe…WE NEED YOU!
No matter what things look like externally or how much it seems like black women have arrived, we need you. We need you irrespective of our circumstances. We need you whether we’re living in million dollar homes with luxury cars or pinching our pennies together to make ends meet. Contrary to popular belief, our need for you doesn’t change with our income or education level, because our need for you is internal.
Do you understand this? I mean do you really understand how deep our need for you goes? Our need for you goes so deep that it scares us silly, so much so, that we say things like, “I don’t need a man,” in an attempt to downplay this need and diminish your importance in our lives. We somehow believe that if we say the words, “I don’t need a man,” we can remove the pain, sense of loss and vulnerability that we feel when you are missing from our lives, our homes, our families and our beds.
But here’s the funny thing about needs – they extend both ways. If we need you, then it would stand to reason that you need us too, so please don’t give up on us and whatever you do, don’t allow us to give up on you. WE NEED YOU.
This note was excerpted from Cassandra Mack’s book,
“The Black Man’s Little Book of Encouragement”
Copyright © 2009 by Cassandra Mack