I try to ignore the 45th President of the United States’ twitter feed, but I have been most troubled and I wanted to share my concerns with a larger audience. Let’s begin with his tweet about Don Lemon and LeBron James.
President Trump seems to directly attack men and women who either are fighting for underserved communities politically or using their resources to help underserved communities economically. He insulted the honorable Maxine Waters and the honorable John Lewis. He disdains Colin Kapernick and any professional player who has the audacity to kneel during the national anthem before their sporting event. He tweeted at Steph Curry when the Golden State Warriors chose not to visit the White House last year after winning the NBA championship. However, it is superficial to think that President Trump is just targeting people to randomly attack on Twitter or in the press. In fact it is not about the individuals being targeted at all. It is much broader than that.
Notice that LeBron James created a public school-not private or charter but public. This means it will be federally supported. This also means that IF the federal government wanted to duplicate LeBron’s efforts they very well could. But they don’t because the goal is to make public school a private endeavor so the billions of dollars that go into public education can be shifted to other places. This is why President Trump is so disgusted with LeBron James-not because LeBron called him a bum but because LeBron’s I Promise School will defy all of the talking heads who point to places like Chicago or Detroit and say public school is a failure. The reality is that most if not all public schools could be designed and structured the way LeBron and his team have structured the I Promise school but the successful outcomes that are bound to happen would eliminate the message that news outlets want to disseminate. It is fine for LeBron to switch NBA teams and battle for championships, but it is the wrong narrative for him to finance over 1000 children defying the odds that systematically and institutionally have been placed against them.
Secondly, President Trump sent this tweet on the same day that he was scheduled to make an appearance at a rally in the state of Ohio. Now, why would President Trump insult Ohio’s son, LeBron James, on the same day he is scheduled to attend a rally in Ohio? Because President Trump and his team are not concerned about uniting America. They are concerned about continuing to racially divide America. At the core of “Make America Great Again” is the seed of racial division that was planted and replanted and harvested in this country since its inception. From the annihilation of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the forced and secret sterilization of Latino and Black women around the nation, the internment of Japanese Americans, and border closings to Chinese immigrants, America has a race problem that is being fanned and flamed in the rhetoric and policies of our current administration.
This leads me to the other tweet that bothered me so deeply.
As notorious as President Trump is for lashing out at people that defy him or his ideas, he is just as gracious with those who support him or his ideas. I know that Pastor John Grey was not the pastor who made those incredible remarks about President Trump being “pro-black”, and President Trump knows that Pastor John Grey did not make the “pro-black” remarks. Why would President Trump, the creator of the phrase, “fake news” retweet a tweet misrepresenting Pastor John Grey? Because Pastor John Grey is the new face of televangelism. Pastor John Grey has a reality show on OWN and he is a social media mega personality. I should know. I am one of his many followers on Instagram. President Trump does not waste tweet space for small people. He targets those with the most impact-the most followers and those who are the most recognizable and goes after them. That way he can continue to expand his own platform and if President Trump can appear to have the support of the Black-attended Christian Church as he and his administration continue to undo and implement policies that will hit African Americans the hardest, he will take it in any shape or fashion. This is why I am so heavy.
The American people spoke with their vote and elected the first, non-politician to the highest office of the land. I think that is something we should all keep in mind. President Trump is not a politician. He is not beholden to any political party as he has been brutal and merciless with his own party, the Republican party. Moreover, much of his staff is not beholden to any party or anyone. This means that the current administration isn’t answering to anyone but themselves. They don’t have to be careful what they say or what types of policies they put in place because in their eyes they are self-made. Some people can ignore the current administration and find that their checkbooks won’t be impacted at all. In fact, they may find themselves collecting huge dividends from the economic gains that the wealthy and business owners are receiving in this current economy.
Yet, there is another group-the economically and socially disadvantaged-that stand to suffer tremendously as more and more money is being removed from public schools, private prisons are being expanded, minimum wage continues to stagnate, and healthcare costs increase while health insurance coverage decreases. And in the midst of all of these challenges, the Supreme Court is undergoing its own potential shift-a shift that could roll back affirmative action initiatives, voting rights, women’s productive rights, and immigration rights. Yet, with so much at stake, President Trump retweets that he is the most pro-black president ever. Interesting.
From the beginning, the Black-attended church and pastor have played pivotal roles in helping frame African American lives in America. Nat Turner was a preacher. Denmark Vesey helped start the A.M.E. church. Both of them led slave-rebellions. Sojurner Truth was not only an abolitionist. She was a preacher. Frederick Douglass also was both preacher and abolitionist. Keep in mind the title of ‘Reverend’ precedes the title of ‘Doctor’ as it relates to Martin Luther King. Malcolm X was a minister in the Nation of Islam and the son of a Baptist preacher. We certainly cannot overlook Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton. The alignment of social justice and pastoral ministry is intricately woven in the Black community. Quite frankly I am not sure how anyone can read the Gospel and not feel a need to speak out against injustice in any form. Dr. King wrote in one of his speeches that the reason the SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, came to fruition was to “save the soul of America.” He never lost sight of his calling or the fact that America by virtue of its willingness to enslave, lynch, disenfranchise, and segregate an entire group of people had lost sight of its calling.
I am praying that pastors and leaders of the faith community will not lose sight of their calling. Racial division in America has been problematic from the beginning and we now have a president and administration through its policies, and social media that have targeted Black and Brown bodies. Malcolm X, in 1964 said, “I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate.” We have come too far to sit at tables with empty plates. Create policy teams at your churches and allow them to be the eyes and ears of legislation initiatives and changes on the federal, state, and local level. Allow them to share their counsel and consider all the angles before taking meetings with public figures and politicians. We have the tools and abilities to create resource centers within our churches that can directly impact our communities. Let us take advantage of preparation and planning so we can be prepared both spiritually and politically to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). The stakes are high in the months and years to come. Arm yourself with truth and knowledge and know how those stakes will impact you and your bottom line.