There are moments when certain words or phrases strike me as urgent. Today as I was reading through, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon, I was suspended in time by his words, “Hiding won’t protect us.” What does it mean to hide? Am I hiding in order to cower away from a threat or evil? Or, am I hiding to ambush a threat or evil? Nonetheless, hiding is only temporary solution; it is a liminal space.
One can never explore the freedom in vision while hiding. Creativity is stifled in hiding. Comparatively, hiding is a different space in than being alone. Baldwin surmises that the “primary distinction of the artist is that [they]must actively cultivate that state which most [people], necessarily, avoid: the state of being alone.” Creativity needs room which hiding doesn’t easily avail or lend itself towards. The creatives, artist, and those who understand freedom uses the banality of being alone as a space to exhume what humanity is afraid of being— simply an authentic, descent human. It the artist, as Baldwin declares, that affords us the opportunity to know “that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
Hiding forces one to compartmentalize to much of their beauty. It endorses the instability of chaos due to the lack of presence.
Hiding is a relentless appeal to avert dealing with reality.
“Hiding won’t protect us.” Were the words Laymon wrote to his mother.
I often find myself disheveled by the Black church, yet not surprised. An institution with such collective power but chooses to yield itself to antiquated ideologies that serve the oppressors. Yes, the Black church has become one the biggest purveyors of capitalism, but, attempts to shield itself with spiritual jargon. In the words of the Otis Moss III, “The church has become capitalism in drag.” It has lost its will and vision to produce a liberative theology for the captive, and, opted, for a seat at the table of capital gain. In the particular structure: truth, honesty, and integrity fails in comparison to popularity and maintenance of the status quo.
Salvation is a mere focus upon redemption of the soul with no concern for the freedom of the body. Therefore, preaching resembles messages that believe its God’s will to get your head beat in, by police, as long as you fervently pray for your enemies. But, there is nothing remotely sacred or Godly about protesting bodily harm. The church that we have inherited “is so damaged that at the moment it does not provide an effective rallying point.” Those parenthetical words are the words spoken Howard Thurman in 1965 but still speaks, vividly, today.
The threat of white evangelical theology is one of eminent danger. It introduces a god, a jesus that is pimping Black and brown people in these yet to be United States. (By pimping, I mean leading in a way that is unproductive for our systemic and structural growth.) It is not the Black Messiah, the revolutionary, Palestinian Jew who stood tall for his people. The one that stood for injustice in the face of death and held strong to his culture while disrupting the empire.
The Black Messiah is not what most Black churches represent today.
You can’t tell from this video but this song details a serious message about a mother catching hell raising 5 children on her own. She becomes a prostitute to make ends meet for her children and constantly wrestles with the decision. She is calling on the Lord on a daily basis but the devil consistently shows up asking her to dance the “cosmic slop.” The cosmic slop refers to how the mother is re-imagining prostitution as a means rather than a sin. George Clinton and Bernie Worrell combining of the cosmic and slop avails itself to unending ethics of speed, space and morality
Peep the second verse and chorus:
She was well known through the ghetto
Tricks would come and then they’d go
The neighbors would talk and call her Jezebel
But always with a smile, she was sure to try to hide
The fact from us that she was catching hell, hey!
Hear my mother call
I can hear my mother call
Late at night I hear her call
Oh lord, lord I hear her call
She says, “Father, father it’s for the kids
Any and every thing I did
Please, please don’t judge me too strong
Lord knows I meant no wrong
Then the devil sang
“Would you like to dance with me? We’re doin’ the cosmic slop”
4 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16 NRSV)
Roland Martin made and interesting comment, “Whoever is funding your freedom fighters is who those freedom fighters respond too.” As much as I would like to find a particular space of disagreement it is hard to disagree with that statement. The god of Capitalism proselytizes all. But, the call to justice is an armament of love centered upon producing equality and freedom. Even those that walked with the Messiah had a momentary lapse, and bowed to the god of Capitalism. But, the revolutionary and gangsta way that Jesus handled betrayal was to eat a meal.