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Knowing Your Role And Staying In Your Lane

Knowing Your Role And Staying In Your Lane

Yesterday I saw on the news where an African-American couple in Jackson, Mississippi was upset because a predominantly white church to which one of them belonged, refused to marry them. The church's minister stated that there was a small group of people that opposed the marriage and he didn't think he should upset them. In the church's 150 year history, there had never been an African-American couple married in the church and apparently, the parishioners plan to keep that tradition going.

As an African-American myself, the first thing that struck me about this whole situation, is why did this couple choose to be married there in the first place. The wife, I understand is a member at the church. This brings another question to mind. Weren't there any African-American churches that they could both have joined and used for their nuptials?
Now those of you who have followed history for the last fifty or sixty years, know very well the "distinguished" record of the great state of Mississippi in regards to race relations. This is the state that gave us Byron De La Beckwith, the murderer of Medgar Evers, the killing of the Civil Rights Workers Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney and also the savage beating and murder of 14 year old Emmett Till. Sadly the old adage that "the more things change, the more they stay the same" still applies in Mississippi.

If you want to find the most segregated time in America, particularly the south, It's any Sunday between the hours of 8AM and 11Am, the time set aside for Sunday worship. For all the strides we have made in race relations, this is still a hurdle that we as Americans, largely have failed to clear. In a perfect society, a black man and woman seeking to get married at a predominantly white church wouldn't be a big deal. Unfortunately, we have not arrived at that utopian mindset yet and probably never will.

There is a deeper problem here though. Forget about the racist white folks at that church. They were just doing what to some extent, might have been expected of them. Their prejudices have probably been passed on from a long line and I'm sure that most or all of them sincerely felt they were doing their "Christian duty," strange as that may seem..

That real problem though, is that many African-Americans have become so self-loathing that we feel that we can only achieve validation by acceptance into white society. Here we are almost 150 years removed from slavery and many of us are still looking for a pat on the head from "Massa."

Many of us rise above our circumstances and decide that those things that we went through on our way up are so painful to remember that they are tossed aside permanently. For some of us that means that choosing a black man or black woman as a mate is no longer good enough for us (remember O.J. Simpson?). For others, the friends that we grew up with are no longer "on our level" because they may not make as much money as us or may not have had the same educational opportunities we had.

I liken what happened to that couple to those former inhabitants of the black community that "make it" and then move to an "exclusive (predominantly white)" neighborhood and painstakingly go out of their way to avoid anyone or anything that reminds them of their past until one day they find their mailbox spray painted with the n-word or someone rides by, splashes mud on them and hurls a racial epithet out the window. Then these same folks want to cry foul and want sympathy from us.

Yet these are the same folks that when in the company of closet bigots, laugh along with their little off-color remarks, don't open their mouth when they denounce our culture, or what they perceive is the lack thereof and generally never take a stand for anything. They justify their cowardice by saying they are "looking at the big picture" and working from the inside to bring about changes subtly.

If the latter is true, then they need to work a lot harder. Very few social changes come about without taking chances and voicing opinions often very loudly and publicly.

Am I saying that people don't have a right to live and worship where they want? Certainly not. I am saying that there are consequences to every decision one makes, good or bad. Carefully consider those consequences and be prepared to deal with them when they occur.

To my African-American brothers and sisters, I implore you all to stop looking for "Massa" to give you the nod of approval. "Massa" is not the one that will be there to comfort you when your dreams are crushed like this couple's were.

One thing about the black community is that no matter how far you've strayed the other way, we are here to embrace you when you decide that you want to come back and cry on our shoulders. If history has taught us but one thing, it is to forgive. That forgiveness even extends to those who would betray and turn their backs on us.

Mississippi Goddamn-Nina Simone


faithbuilder23 from Pennsylvania on November 12, 2012:

Great Hub!!! Very interesting topic that I follow.

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