The Burning Bush of the U.S. Capitol Building: What is God Saying to Us Through the Presidency of Donald J. Trump?

Hello World,

I try, as much as I can, to stay away from politics because it is a such divisive topic. But after watching the U.S. Capitol Building under siege last Wednesday, I must address it here. My goal is to not share my opinions although I have strong ones. My goal is to share critical thoughts that I hope Christians can use to help us all to discern what God is saying to us.

From the moment President Trump then just reality TV star Donald J. Trump began running for office in 2015, he has caused  controversy. There were those who didn’t take him nor his campaign seriously because he was known as reality TV star with a penchant for creating publicity. Many thought he was simply running for president as a way to expand his brand. But as the presidential race continued, one by one each Republican was knocked out of the race. And what a race it was. Name calling was one of his favorite tools in his arsenal. He called Jeb Bush “Low Energy Jeb.” Ted Cruz was “Lyin’ Ted.” “Little Marco” was his choice for Marco Rubio. It was funny for some but others were appalled. Due to this behavior as well as others qualities, Republicans still didn’t take him seriously until he was actually selected as the Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential election. Still, there remained a faction who referred to “Never Trumpers” who were dedicated to not getting on the Trump Train no matter who jumped on it.

Surprisingly for some, evangelical Christians were among those who jumped on board. Despite the Two Corinthians situation and Access Hollywood tape, evangelical Christians, by and large, voted for him while many other Christians, namely black Christians, didn’t support him for a variety of reasons including his questioning the birth certificate of our nation’s first black president Barack H. Obama and other incidents in which some believe that Trump demonstrated racism. This is a chasm that continues until this very day although there have been many well-known black Christians such as Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., for example, who support the president.

So I’m not going to provide an exhaustive rundown of all the controversies that have transpired in Trump presidency, but I will discuss some of the controversies that come to my memory as I write this. Think of it as a controversy highlight reel if you will…

  • While our nation is analyzing the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol Building under  siege today, it wasn’t that long ago when our nation was in an uproar about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia in the summer of 2017, months after the president was inaugurated. Self-proclaimed white supremacists, holding their Nazi and Confederate flags and  tiki torches, took over a city in a “Unite the Right” rally.  Additionally, President Trump’s comment about “very fine people” at Charlottesville caused controversy.
  • While this was going on, the Russia investigation, in which Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was examined, unfolded like a soap opera with daily updates. The Mueller Report, as the investigation was led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, was released and became a bestselling book although it was free!
  • And while this going on, many people were still curious about Trump’s taxes which as far as I know he still hasn’t released although various news organizations have been able to acquire some information about his taxes.
  • And let me not leave out out the firings and resignations: Michael Cohen, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, John F. Kelly, Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Anthony Scaramucci, Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Omarosa and more…way more actually but these are just a few of the names that come to mind as I’m writing this morning.
  • What about the “perfect phone call” also known as the Trump-Ukraine scandal? The long and short of it is that Trump was impeached behind that…
  • The Coronavirus Crisis: I’ve never experienced anything like this…Have you?

Now after what happened on Wednesday, the president has been booted off of social media, he has stated that he’s skipping the inauguration of President-elect Biden and he may be impeached for a second time. Again, this is not even exhaustive list of all of the controversies that transpired during the Trump presidency…

Both those who support President Trump and those who do not have to agree that many of these controversies are unprecedented in a presidency. When the Lord wanted to get Moses’ attention in a unique way, he was presented with a burning bush in which an angel of the Lord spoke to Him from the bush. Aside from an angel being in the midst of a burning bush, it was also unique that even though it burned, it was not consumed. I’m desperately hoping that is the case for this country. We are on fire, Saints, but I pray we are not consumed. The U.S. Capitol Building under siege is a sign that no one can ignore, and I think what has happened since is an indication that many others feel this way as well. It seems like some Democrats and Republicans are coming together to figure this all out in addition to Christians in both parties, and I believe that is good. What is God saying to us through the presidency of Donald J. Trump? I have many, many, many thoughts about what I think, but I won’t reveal them right now…

What say you?

Any thoughts?

Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage — My Review

Hello World,

Today marks a year that my debut novel Destination Wedding was released into the world! And God has been so good throughout this year in helping me to get the word out about my book to the world. Just this week, I discovered that the Detroit Public Library  chose my debut novel as one of the best works of fiction for 2019-2020!!! It was mentioned in its 2020 AFRICAN AMERICAN BOOKLIST!!! I’m on the list with the likes of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Victoria Christopher Murray, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Jacqueline Woodson & More!!! (Crazy, right?)

Below is the cover of the booklist, which has been published for 52 years, along with my book cover. According to the Detroit Public Library website,  “this bibliography provides a selected list of books by and/or about African Americans. The works of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and young adults were reviewed and recommended by librarians of the Detroit Public Library.” Click HERE if you want to see the entire list.

Along with celebrating my book release anniversary, I also wanted to help spread the word about another important book that validates why I wrote Destination Wedding in the first place. Destination Wedding is my response to a real ABC News Nightline piece “Single, Black, Female and — Plenty of Company” in which it was reported that 42 percent of black women have never been married, which is double the amount of white women who find themselves in that dire predicament.

Obviously, as my book is a novel, the women in my book are fictional; however, this statistic illustrates a very real dilemma. Dr. Dianne M. Stewart, an associate professor of religion and African American studies at Emory University here in Atlanta, writes about this dilemma in her sweeping treatise Black Women, Black Love America’s War on African American Marriage, which was recently released. Dr. Stewart actually interviewed me about my novel last year at my book launch at Auburn Avenue Research Library in downtown Atlanta. Through our discussion, we were able to identify how our works intersect. While I address personal solutions to this dilemma through the lives of my main characters in my novel, Dr. Stewart identifies systemic solutions for what she refers to as “our nation’s most unrecognized civil rights issue” in her nonfiction book.

Similarly, as the ABC News Nightline report was broadcast in December 2009, Dr. Stewart cites that in 2009, 71 percent of Black women in America were unmarried, according to the 2010 US Census. As the ABC News Nightline report was broadcast in 2009, that time period was explored in my novel, but Dr. Stewart starts at slavery. She writes that “endless studies examine racial slavery in America as a reverberating assault upon Black people’s historic and contemporary liberties in perhaps every arena of life but one: romantic love and marriage.” Further down, she writes, “yet from its very beginnings, the transatlantic trade in human cargo, which set the American institution of African bondage in motion, required the disruption of intimate relationships and marriages.”

In Chapter 1 “Jumping the Broom: Racial Slavery and America’s Roots of Forbidden Black Love,” Dr. Stewart writes about a 19-year-old slave Celia who was hanged to death after killing her owner, who repeatedly raped her. Her true love was her boyfriend George, but she was unable to “freely choose a Black man as her lover and life partner.” Additionally, she writes that “less than 1 percent of slaveholders in the South held more than 100 persons in bondage, and by 1860 enslaved persons in the South, on average, lived in groups of 10. For this reason, enslaved women such as Celia were fortunate if they found romantic partners residing on the same properties with them.”

In the next chapter “Slow Violence and White America’s Reign of Terror,” Dr. Stewart writes about how Black love continued to be under assault even after slavery ended. Although they had been married for 22 years,  Atlanta, Georgia resident Carolyn Gilbert’s husband, 42-year-old Henry, was lynched in 1947. Through sharecropping, the  couple had saved enough to buy a 111-acre farm. But reportedly, he was shot and killed for allowing a “young black troublemaker” to hide on their farm. Additionally, a police officer shot Henry claiming the “deacon and treasurer at his small Baptist church ‘drew a chair on me.'”

In the third chapter, “Love and Welfare: Johnnie Tillmon and the Struggle to Preserve Poor Black Families,” Dr. Stewart interweaves pop culture examples in addition to more poignant real life cases of how Black love has been disrupted throughout the decades. I loved the 1974 movie Claudine. Dr. Stewart wrote that the movie “depicted the structural obstacles welfare posed to Black love and marriage and the stark reality that for millions of Black women in America at the time, choosing marital fulfillment (as the main character Claudine eventually does) meant loosing welfare benefits.”

Due to my age, I’m most familiar with the examples presented in the next chapter “Black Love in Captivity: Mass Incarceration and the Depletion of the African American Marriage Market.” And the first sentence in this chapter is particularly arresting. Pun intended. “No other institution has perfected America’s project of forbidding black love better than the contemporary prison industrial complex.” Further down, she writes, “Black men are incarcerated at much higher rates than any other group in the United States, even when convicted for the same crimes.” Did you know that former President Obama was the “first sitting president to actually tour a federal prison in 2015?” Additionally, former President Obama, “actually commuted the sentences of more inmates than his twelve predecessors combined.”

Speaking of Obama, Dr. Stewart writes about the former First Lady Michelle Obama in the chapter “Will Black Women Ever Have it All? Michelle Obama, Kheris Rogers and African Americans’ Shifting Landscapes of Love.” Dr. Stewart cites an article “Dark and Lovely, Michelle” by Vanessa Williams. Williams wrote, “A lot of Black women fell for Barack Obama the moment they saw his wife.” Let me raise my hand because that is true for me as well. While Dr. Stewart provides example after example of how Black love has been under assault by exterior forces, in this chapter, she presents an interior force that has its beginnings in slavery. In slavery, lighter-skinned Black people were treated better than their brothers and sisters of darker hues. And unfortunately, due to colorism, light-skinned Black women have more of a chance of getting married than medium-skinned and dark-skinned Black women, according to Dr. Stewart. Within this chapter, Dr. Stewart presents many solutions that I won’t reveal here because you have to read the book. However, one solution that I will share from her book is addressing colorism in the Black community.

Recently, actress Gabourey Sidibe shared that she got engaged to Brandon Frankel, who also works in entertainment. Sidibe, who is a dark-skinned black woman, has apparently received some criticism from Black men for being engaged to a White man. One YouTube blogger points out that in the past, many Black men have criticized Sidibe for her complexion and deemed her as undesirable and therefore have no standing to critique her coupling choice now. See the commentary HERE. Dr. Stewart writes that “Black women not only confront a shortage of Black men but also wrestle with internalized and interpersonal color consciousness.”

You have to read the book to experience the full breadth of Dr. Stewart’s exhaustive examination of this dilemma, but I hope I’ve provided enough information to make you buy your own copy of Black Women, Black Love America’s War on African American Marriage. It is a must-have resource if you care about Black love. I think employing personal solutions while addressing systemic solutions is the most comprehensive way to win the war on African American marriage.

What say you?

For more information about Dr. Stewart, see her website: DianneMStewart.com.

Any thoughts?

 

Bishop T.D. Jakes Says We Should Pray for President Trump as He Battles Coronavirus, But Should We?

Hello World,

Even if you’re not a fan of President Trump, we all have to admit The Apprentice reality star turned politician knows how to get headlines and change the topic of the national conversation when he sees fit. A week ago Sunday, The New York Times reported that the president only paid $750 in taxes during 2016, the year he was elected president. Of course, that revelation caused a flurry of conversation. Although some may have thought the president won the presidential debate on Tuesday, others criticized his approach to debating and his directive to the white supremacist group Proud Boys. But by Friday, he managed to trump both of those conversations by announcing in the wee hours via Twitter that he and the First Lady have been diagnosed with the scourge of 2020 – COVID-19. And just like that, there has been very little talk of his taxes, debate performance and Proud Boys directive since.

In fact, because of his ability to get headlines and shift the national conversation AND penchant for being less than truthful, some are questioning if his diagnosis is even real. In The New York Times article, “Liberals Ask: Why Should We Believe Trump Has the Virus?” reporter Davey Alba included tweets from The New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb and actor Susan Sutton.

Here is Jelani’s tweet below:

Here is Susan’s tweet below:

And my husband is also skeptical. I do, however, believe he is sick and others do as well. And because that is the case, there are those who are praying for his recovery and asking others to join them. Below is Bishop T.J. Jakes Instagram post about praying for him:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This morning, Americans awoke to the sad and deeply troubling news that President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. Please join me in praying for the first family. These are challenging days for our nation and the world.⁣ ⁣ Please don’t turn this into a political issue. ⁣ ⁣ We must be more humane toward one another. Compassion has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with being a Christian and a human being. While we’re on our knees, take this opportunity to pray for the millions suffering during this pandemic. These are dire times, and we must be “our brother’s keeper.” I urge skeptics and those who have grown lax about exercising the necessary safety precautions to take this pandemic seriously. As a pastor who has buried many, I can assure you that this virus is a-political and definitely not a hoax. Let’s work together to defeat it!

A post shared by T.D. Jakes (@bishopjakes) on

And Bishop has received quite a few critical responses to this post. Below are a few:

With all due respect Bishop. Donald J. Trump was the one who turned this into a political issue.

With all due respect we should have been praying that the lord changed his heart and wicked ways. You reap what you sow.

More humane? Did you hear what he said about Joe’s son the other night?? Donald isn’t humane.

In a Facebook group that I’m a member of, one member posted this statement:

Praying🙏🙏🙏🙏 for our president and country as he flies off to Walter Reed Medical Center “out of an abundance of caution” for the next several days. I do not agree with many of the policies and personality, but as children of God, we MUST pray for him and his family.🙏🙏🙏🙏

And below are some of the responses to this post:

I saw this and had to double check and see if I was in a Trump support group. As others said, I wish no ill will towards him but the fact remains that he and his Trumpicans downplayed this pandemic the entire time. God has a way of humbling us. This situation should be his wake up call.

I’m not calling the fire department because the plantations on fire.

211,000 people are dead because of his lack and failure to protect this country naw then he tried to disrespect RBG wishes not to fill her seat until after the election nope the fool was asking for karma it comes back 10 fold strong.

So let’s dig a little deeper into what was said. One of the reasons why people are having a hard time praying for the president is because since the news of this pandemic broke, the president has been playing it down and even said as much to Bob Woodward.

Additionally, he has eschewed methods of curtailing the virus such as social distancing. When public health experts warned about holding large rallies and leaders responded such as North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, rather than try to work within the guidelines, the president responded by moving the GOP convention to Florida before ultimately bringing it to the White House. Although it’s not clear where businessman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain contracted COVID-19, Cain attended a Trump rally in Tulsa and according to a photo he tweeted, he was not practicing social distancing. Unfortunately, Cain died not long afterward due to COVID-19 complications.

Also, Trump has rarely been seen in public in a mask and in Tuesday’s debate, the president made fun of former vice president Biden for wearing his mask AND on top of that, according to Chris Wallace, the moderator for the debate, no one other than Wallace, Trump and Biden were supposed to be free of masks according to the official rules. But Trump’s family did not wear masks and when they were presented with masks to wear, they did not accept them.

And speaking of those around him, Trump is not the only one in his circle to have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19. According to USA Today, at least 11 in his circle have come up positive with coronavirus. It is believed that many of them contracted it while attending the announcement of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Rose Garden last Saturday. Some believe this twist of events is a case of divine distribution or the last case that the notorious RBG tried as an attorney before THE JUDGE of all judges, the Lord! Reportedly, before she died, she requested that her place on the Supreme Court not be filled before the election, but within days of her death, her dying wish was ignored by the president and the Mitch McConnell who refused to even entertain President Obama’s nominee of Merrick Garland during 216 when Justice Antonin Scalia died February of that election year.

See the meme below:

Now in Scripture, we are advised to:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:12

However, in the Word, it also says:

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

So given all that has been presented here, what are you opting to do? Will you or have you been praying for the president?

Any thoughts?