Two good columns to catch
Over at PageOneQ, National Black Justice Coalition board member Jasmyne Cannick has a great piece up, Much Ado Over Outing, that covers the reaction she and Keith Boykin had over their Outing Black Pastors campaign a few weeks ago, which exposed the bigotry toward the black gay community by calling attention to high-profile pastors responsible for creating a climate of sadness and fear. [I covered this series on the Blend.]
The outline of the campaign was straightforward. Each day for one week Keith and I profiled a Black pastor highlighting his relationship with the Bush Administration, recent homophobic gay comments, and ending with the question, is this pastor gay? Starting with mega church pastors Bishop Eddie Long and T.D. Jakes, we included profiles of other prominent pastors including Los Angeles’ Noel Jones and Bishop Charles Blake, D.C.’s Reverend Willie Wilson, Chicago’s Reverend Gregory Daniels, New Orleans’ Bishop Paul Morton, Georgia’s Creflo Dollar, and ended with a joint profile of ex-gay gospel singer Donnie Mclurkin.
For the record, there is nothing wrong with asking a question. My experience has shown that the people who are the most adamant on certain issues also tend to be dealing with their own issues. People who are comfortable with who they are usually don’t care as much about what other people are doing. Which lead me to an obvious question, are these pastor’s gay?
…To date, I have received over 1,000 emails regarding this campaign and they still continue to come in. While a good number of the responses that I have received regarding this campaign are positive, I will say that I have received many threats against my life for “bringing harm to a man of God.” And if the email wasn’t a threat against my life I was blasted for speaking badly about men of God, not notifying the pastors ahead of time and put on notice that I was going to be on a direct path to hell, as opposed to a more scenic view.
Do I have remind you that anyone can claim to be a man of God? Jim Jones said he was a man of God and because of him 913 people, many of whom were Black are dead. President Bush claims he is a man of God and was called upon by God to lead this country and look at where we are today. Reverend Craig Ward of the Brookins African Methodist Episcopal Church considers himself to be a man of God, but he was still arrested in Oakland for trying to negotiate a 20-dollar oral sex act.
So you see, claiming that you are a man or woman of God does not automatically elevate you to sainthood, at least not in my book.
Over at Raw Story, fellow B3 contributor Nancy Goldstein reveals the effects of our criminal justice system on children of the incarcerated that are covered in journalist Nell Bernstein’s book, All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated.
The oftentimes harrowing accounts of her interview subjects not only foreground the trauma children are exposed to through the current system, but offer glimpses of where it has gone wrong — and could go right. The police who came for nine-year-old Ricky’s mom were in such a hurry that they left him alone in the apartment with his infant brother. For two weeks, Ricky cooked for himself and his brother, and changed his diapers, until neighbors noticed and called Child Protective Services. Antonia was five when she saw her mother arrested on the street for prostitution — handcuffed and put into the back of a police car. At home, she and her ten-year-old brother were on their own for a week until their mother returned.
Witnessing a parent being seized and handcuffed at gunpoint and then being left alone in the house to fend for oneself — and this routinely happens to children during an arrest — isn’t just a bad situation for the child, or one that could easily be redressed by something as simple as an officer taking the child into the next room and asking the parent if there’s someone who can take care of him. It also creates early, deep mistrust towards the law and its enforcers — and, as one officer reminds Bernstein, encouraging children to see police as the enemy does not enhance public or police safety.
Through careful documentation and statistical evidence illustrated by first-hand accounts, Bernstein argues that the well-being of both prisoners and their children is better insured through drug treatment, regular family visits, and parenting classes than it is through simply locking prisoners up, forcing them to communicate with their children by phone or through glass, or farming a child out to a foster home “for their own good” — i.e., to remove them from the “criminal element” in their lives. The latter may satisfy the current American bloodlust for retribution, but the policies that Bernstein recommends produce far lower rates of recidivism among inmates and decrease the chance that their children will later wind up in trouble with the law themselves.