The Price of Bud—or Foe—Has Indeed Risen

“I rather have a John Brown than a Clarence Thomas.”

So said the preacher.

Yep, a preacher.

He said it publicly.

As part of his sermon today (Sunday, March 3).

Okay, it was the Reverend Raphael G. Warnock.

He of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Yes–that Ebenezer.

Yes—that King’s church.

So, yes, it’s expected to hear his sermons employing religion for the public good.

I’ve heard his predecessor, Rev. Roberts, do the same. And we all know Dr. King, using his papa’s illustrative example, wasn’t scared to use the pulpit to take (the right, as in the correct) political side.

I was still surprised though that such a custom would include calling out Uncle Toms, or Collaborators, by name.

That’s what Warnock did when calling out Uncle Clarence, saying he’d prefer the white guy with the right ideology, like freedom fighter John Brown, when going into battle. Enough of this first black this and first black that, when the ideology was wrong, Warnock said. It recalled something that was said back in the turbulent day—“Black Visibility Is Not Black Power.”

The sermon took a passage from the Book of Esther. I read the Bible as a kid—the entire book, I mean. Don’t recall what I’ve read much though. I read it again some five or six years ago. Recall being shocked at how violent the Old Testament was but still not a thing about Esther. I learned (relearned?) Sunday she was part of the despised group, the Jewish people in this case, who “entered the palace” when a Persian despot who oppressed her people married her. Even today, Warnock added, a few of the despised are allowed entrance into the metaphorical palace, with too many forgetting the plight of their own people. It’s a long biblical story that he didn’t get to the end of, but it turns out that Esther, after some prodding from her own, did not sell her people down the river.

It’s my understanding that Warnock is close to the White House, was even included in the last inauguration. Warnock included the first black president among the few who’ve been allowed to enter the palace. Warnock said that like every other escapee, even the president (and Warnock wasn’t saying Obama wasn’t doing this) should look back and help his own.

I was at the church, visiting, my third week in a row. The other sermons, preachments by guest preachers, were righteously political too. (Wouldn’t be a bad church to join. I just hate that part about coming up front after the sermon. Must be another way to officially hook up.)

Warnock and Clarence are both technically homeboys, by the way, they too being from Savannah, Clarence, around my age, in his sixties, and Warnock, who must be in his mid-forties since that is the age range of a niece and nephew he went to a Savannah high school with.

Warnock was upset because he knows, as does anyone following the latest high profile Supreme Court case, that Clarence will be voting along with the other court “conservatives” to strip Section Five from the Voting Rights Act, thereby making it more likely that the disenfranchisement of black voters, particularly in the South, will be restarted in some areas and escalated in others. Warnock was particularly pissed by the conservatives’ leader, Justice Scalia, who called an act ensuring black voting rights an entitlement despite all the evidence of racial tampering through gerrymandering and such. (Oh, by the way, Scalia is a straight up racist. You’re just not supposed to call him that because he’s so brilliant and everything—the evidence for which, incidentally, I still wait.)

But yeah.

We are gonna have to do something about these Uncle Toms, you know.

Toms are dangerous whether they’re stopping rebellions on plantations for no more than an extra pork chop or providing cover for racist laws that directly impact our quality of life.

Plus, America’s making collaborating too profitable.

You can get on Fox, or something. Now look at this Dr. Ben Carson. I mean, he’s obviously a great doctor, but what are his political credentials? (Oh, he’s black and he’s against Obama. My bad.)

I can’t think of one successful revolution that didn’t focus on removing its traitors from legitimacy. That’s sort of its first move. I too am concerned about this business of hurting your own. But then, let’s be honest, their very actions have removed them from the status of being anyone’s except their masters and there is a proximity factor that makes turning to them sort of safer.

So am I suggesting we actually harm the Tom? As I said in the piece about the “killer cop” in LA (and have you noticed how they’ve stopped talking about Christopher Dorner?), I’m non violent. Also, as I said then, I wouldn’t be that stupid to advocate such a thing in such a public space. I resorted to the saying: “My Mama didn’t raise no fool.”

But we must make it harder for them to sell us out so. The ostracizing must be comprehensive and focused—as in raising a stink wherever they go to work or to make speeches, flooding their emails or the emails of their sponsors, boycotting businesses that prop them up. Hey, maybe making life miserable for relatives who support them. (I’m open to suggestions.)

All nasty biz, I agree, but this is no game here, folks. I too can get upset with Obama but I guess more often than not that there’s not that much he can do against a united reactionary front—which would include a media that’s pretending the tussle is normal politics or that both sides share equal blame. Who needs folks who should be on our team blocking for those who would do us harm?

Kwame Ture, when he was Stokely Carmichael, said something once that has stuck with me. He was talking about denying access to those who stood with blacks at times but then at other times joined the chorus in condemning them. “The price of being the black man’s friend has gone up,” he said. Deservedly celebrated as those times often were, they could also be troublingly sexist, so I’ll add, “The price of being the black man’s —or black woman’s—friend has gone up.”

So has being his—or her—enemy.