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The Lion King: More than a Movie—A Message to the Black Man and Woman

the-lion-kingI love movies. Not because they are so entertaining, but because they are layered with so much symbolism—and I love drawing parallels and meaning from movies and seeing what lessons I can learn from the stories and what truths I can apply to my life. Isn’t that the purpose of stories anyway?

I am a Black male Millennial living in America on a quest to discover earthly purpose and understand the spiritual significance of my life. This is the lens through which I watched The Lion King this time. And seeing it as an adult and as a live action remake helped me to see many things I didn’t clearly see before.

With you, I will share three (One race-related, one spiritual, and one romantic).

  1. Pumbaa and Timon are NOT Simba’s friends. Pumbaa and Timon are self-interested, fear-ridden characters who seek benefit from Simba’s guilt, pain, and ignorance. They mask their fear as friendliness and tell all the animals that he is not like other lions (but is one of the “good ones”) and train against his nature. Pumbaa and Timon encourage Simba to reject the Circle of Life Philosophy of harmony and balance in exchange for a “meaningless line of indifference” philosophy where one not only worries about nothing (Hakuna Matata) but also does nothing. They change his diet, converting him from a carnivore to an insectivore, and even poke fun of his spiritual beliefs about his ancestors. Simba’s mis-education goes so far and deep that his only enemy was another lion which he was willing to kill in order protect those who are using him and duping into believing they are his friends and not his natural prey.
  2. Mufasa represents Simba’s Higher Self. Mufasa is depicted on the surface as Simba’s father, but on another level of interpretation, Mufasa is Simba’s Higher Self. Remember when Rafiki tells Simba that he can show him where Mufasa is? The chase that ensues represents the spiritual journey we must all go on to find ourselves. At the end of this chase, Simba learns that Mufasa never died, but lives in him. Here, we can learn that the separation (of spirit and soul) that occurred after the “fall of man” is also an illusion, and that the higher principle of ourselves is still up there, rooting for us and cheering us on. This truth causes Simba to remember who he is and consequently return home to reclaim his position in the Circle of Life. On this other level of interpretation, Simba reconnects with his higher self and the truths he learned from his higher-self before the separation. On after this connection is he able to be the “mighty King” he dreamed of being when he was a cub. His fear disappears. His focus becomes more precise. His roar is more ferocious and powerful than ever before. Simba becomes a fully realized lion to such an extent that Scar thinks Simba is Mufasa; which I argue he is (John 10:30). In this state, Simba is able to defeat Scar and the hyenas and restore balance and bring back order to the home he was born to protect.
  3. The Black women should be exalted. In my opinion, Nala is the most important character in the movie. She represents unconditional love, balance, power and unity. is the catalyst that calls Simba home. She is grounded, self-aware, and consistent (Simba’s number one fan since they were children). She sees courage in him when no one else is able to and literally enCOURAGEs him to be all that she sees. She puts courage in him. She calls out what she sees in him. She brings out the best in him. She demands that he is his best and does what is best for the family and the home. This process, for men, can be embarrassing, difficult, and even painful—the same way it was for Simba who hasn’t fully dealt with the puffed-up view he had of himself or the unprocessed pain and guilt he had from childhood. But Simba MUST find himself if he is going to be a suitable mate for Nala or a “mighty king” for Pride Rock. But because he is not ready, they break up. Nala leaves Simba. As much as she loves him, she intuitively knows that he has to come to the knowledge of the truth for himself. Her leaving, is not in vain though. It prompts him to think about himself in such a way it initiates his quest for self-discovery. He finds himself, finds Nala, and finds his place back in the Circle of Life.

Without Nala, Simba would have died in the wilderness. Her love for him and her belief in him saves Pride Rock and preserves the family that otherwise would have perished under Scar’s reign. Nala represents the divine feminine when, once joined to the divine masculine creates an enduring love that sustains life in magical and majestic ways.

I recently read a Facebook post that said: “Please stop putting all the problems of the world on the shoulders of Black Women.” For some reason I was hurt when I read this. It pained me because the truth is, the Black woman is the only human being that can handle such pressure. But the other truth is that she cannot succeed alone, the same way Nala couldn’t over throw Scar alone or Rule Pride Rock alone. Once they came together, and only then, was balance was fully restored.

For some reason, I was moved to stay in the theatre until the very end. The first song during the closing credits was “Never too Late” which, to me, speaks of the truth that it’s never too late to remember who you are, return to your home and reclaim you land and place on the throne. Compound that with the fact that when you reconnect to your higher-self, you have all of nature fighting with you to help you restore balance and restore order to the circle of life, the message to me was clear: 1) Disconnect from your enemies (within and without). 2) Reconnect with your higher self. 3) Connect with your woman. 

BONUS

My key to the characters and what they concepts they represented. I was probably distracting a few people around me trying to take notes on my phone during the movie. Messages were being downloaded like crazy and I didn’t want to forget them. The more time I have, the more I will unpack them, but here is what I have so far. Consider these when you watch the movie. See if they resonate.

  • Simba represents the Black Man.
  • Mufasa represents Simba’s higher self (truth)
  • Nala represents the Black Woman (unconditional love, power)
  • Rafiki represents Spiritual Guide
  • Scar represents Simba’s lower self (deceit, fear, guilt, death)
  • Pumba and Timon represent Foreign culture superimposed through education and religion (Colonialists)
  • Hyenas represent (western) culture of greed and insatiable appetite
  • Zazu represents guardian angel, order and knowledge (all seeingness (bird’s eye view) and all knowingness (messenger/snitch to King)
  • Pride Rock represents Home/ Paradise
  • Pumbaa and Timon’s home represents the Wilderness

Why We Should KILL the Idea of “Die-Ins”

I told myself that I would not participate in them—especially after I learned what they were called. But I ran into one accidentally the other day. Had I known what was about to happen, I would have never stayed around to witness it, for I was not prepared. Someone was speaking to a group of young protesters when suddenly, a young man walked in the middle of the circle and fell to the ground as if dead. Then faster than a domino effect, each person in the circle fell to the ground to mock dead too. I assume they laid there for a designated amount of time while others who weren’t participating walked the other way or perhaps watched the demonstration until they hopped up to do some chanting and angry talking. I can only imagine because once I saw what was happening I walked away as quickly as I could.

I wonder how the participants felt after this demonstration. Did they feel a sense of accomplishment based on the number of people who participated? Based on the number of people who watched? I wonder whether or not they thought their actions prevented a police officer from shooting another innocent human being. Did their actions stop a future grand jury from not indicting a corrupt officer who will murder a black child in cold blood? Or were they just parroting what other people around the world were doing just to say they did something–claiming to spread awareness about the issue of police brutality and the systemic devaluing of Black life in America?

The whole notion to me is silly.

1. Make a sign that says Black Lives Matter.Protestors enact 'Die In' at Union Station in Washington

2. Play dead for a few minutes.

3. Get off the ground when ready

4. Dust yourself off

5. Run a personal errand

Beyond silly, the notion of a die-in is dangerous. As someone who believes in the power of suggestion, visualization, and other aspects of the law of attraction, playing dead is the first step to dying. It’s the same, if not worse, than rolling around in a wheel chair or playing cripple with someone’s crutches. We are encouraged not to do such things because going through the motions of walking with crutches or rolling in a wheelchair will attract a circumstance to your experience that will require you to need crutches or a wheelchair—in the same way carrying a fertility doll is believed to help a woman become pregnant. The reason why we need to kill the idea of the die-in is because the only thing it is attracting is people dying en mass.

What kind of energy is spreading with these demonstrations around the nation? What are we inadvertently creating?

Please stop it.


Fathers are Essential

Nonessential expressions in writing are words, phrases or clauses that are not necessary to the meaning or structure of the sentence.  It’s easy to determine whether an expression is nonessential by omitting the phrase from the sentence. If the meaning of the sentence is still conveyed and if proper sentence structure is preserved, the expression is nonessential.

Example: We reserved this section for their fathers, none of whom attended the program.

The bolded phrase is nonessential; but sometimes I wonder whether families today consider fathers as nonessential. This Father’s Day, in addition to celebrating fathers and father figures, I think we should spread the message that fathers are essential to the family unit.

ImageAs I thought about the purpose of Father’s Day and creative ways to thank and celebrate my father for being present in my life, I began to reflect on his influence on me. That thought snowballed into my thinking about the significance of a father’s contribution to his children (generally speaking) which then led, for some reason, into thoughts about famous African Americans and their fathers. I thought about Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and even Oprah. Each of these people has dominated their field. They have risen to the top and succeeded beyond ordinary success. But each of them also credit their fathers as essential to their success. In fact, if you omit their fathers from the sentences of their lives, meaning and structure would not only be lost, we probably wouldn’t even know their names.

We can learn a few lessons from the practices of these African American fathers.

  1. They insisted upon their child’s excellence.
  2. They demanded discipline and practice.
  3. They were unwaveringly dedicated to their child’s success.
  4. They held their children to high standards and expectations.
  5. They also, in most cases, did not ask their children what they wanted to be when they grew up; they told them. 

Because of these essential fathers, the above-mentioned celebrities will be known for what their fathers dreamed they could be, as they are forever etched on the pages of Black, American and World History.

As we acknowledge fathers and father figures today, let us make sure we do our part to raise a generation of boys who will be fathers that will dream dreams for their children and gift the world with someone who will impact it in a significant and meaningful way.

Happy Father’s Day.    


To Vote or Not To Vote: Dilemma November 2012

It never fails. Every day since the Republican National Convention, my Facebook newsfeed has someone talking about the election in some capacity. Whether it’s a link to Samuel L. Jackson’s controversial ad for Obama encouraging everyone to wake up and vote, or a picture of Mr. Obama’s backside and a caption reading, “I’ve got my president’s back,” or some word of praise about Michelle Obama’s sophistication, or even a witty picture/quote pointing out an example of Mitt Romney’s so-called ill-qualifications, more than several of my Facebook friends are expressing their ideas about the upcoming election. As you may imagine, the majority of them will vote. Interestingly, someone’s status update recently provoked me to write my thoughts about voting. It said something like: “If I ever hear a pastor encourage people not to vote from a platform, that would be my last time at that church.” And while I understand and respect her sentiment, I don’t understand or respect dismissing people who choose not to vote without exploring their opinions. Since I have had such thoughts before, and am leaning toward not voting myself, l decided to explore them a little more fully.

Before I share them, however, I will share with you my understanding of the reasons people vote. I hear two the most:

1.     Have your voice heard

If you want your voice heard in a political setting, voting is the way to do it. Instead of complaining to people who have no power to address your issues, every four years or every two years, you can express you contentment or discontentment with elected officials by voting for them into office or voting them out of office. The vote is one of the main ways everyday citizens can be heard.

2.     Because people died for our right 

Especially relevant to African Americans whose history includes people being denied their basic rights of citizenship, voting becomes a moral responsibility—a way to express gratitude for the sacrifices of our forebears and ancestors. Many put their lives on the line for the right to vote and were rewarded with death. The least we could do is register and go to the polls.

A study was recently released documenting how the number of registered voters in Chicago has drastically plummeted since 2008. Although Chicago (and an overwhelming majority of Americans) were excited about Obama’s historic run, I don’t believe the aforementioned reasons are sufficient enough to keep people enthusiastic about voting in this upcoming election.  And though I don’t profess to know why people are not voting, I can imagine they feel similar to me: disenchanted because of the reasons I will mention below, or because the affect of the Obama Kool-Aid has worn off (probably a combination of both).

No. I haven’t completely made up my mind about not voting, but here are a few of the reasons why I am leaning toward not voting.

 1.     My vote doesn’t count

“He who votes counts for nothing. He who counts the votes, counts for everything.” – Joseph Stalin

When I first heard this quote sometime in graduate school, I had to read it a couple of times before it really clicked. But when it did, I was changed. Putting aside your personal feelings about Stalin and his philosophies, it is difficult to deny the truth of his quotation. There is, indeed, a veil between the voters and the declaration of the outcome of the election. That buffer is the counting process. It seems pretty flawless. If people can be persuaded to vote and then agitate the outcome to the favor of a predetermined candidate, the voters will have no idea of the corruption. They will go along with results because they have faith in the system. It’s interesting, people suspect cheating via counting in elections in high school, civic organizations, American Idol, and even churches who vote their pastors in and out, but the same suspicion appears to be absent in the people’s mind concerning the election of President of the United States and other local and national political offices.

Funny clip. But there is a message above that should not be overlooked. Electronic voting machines, though said to be more proficient, have the capability to swing elections. But don’t take my word for it; listen to a public testimony from a programmer who created a program that could fix an election.  In his testimony, he talked about the importance of receiving a receipt upon voting on an electronic voting machine. When I voted in 2008 on one of these machines in Indiana, I asked for a receipt and was told they didn’t give any out. I was encouraged to trust the accuracy of these machines that “nullify” the human error factor.  Knowing that the digital gas pumps are rigged, digital thermometers have been inaccurate, and digital scales just plain wrong (according to some women I know), I just shook my head and left wearing my “I voted” sticker.

2. It doesn’t matter who the president is, he is just a puppet

Since 1913 politics and politicians have been compromised. As we should know, The Federal Reserve is not federal at all. It is a privately owned corporation that operates independently of the government. As you research the Federal Reserve System, you will find that the bank creates our currency (Federal Reserve Notes) and that your and my income taxes go to the owners of the bank. This is relevant because the Federal Reserve loans money to the American government and the American people pay back the loans with interest (unconstitutional income tax).

“Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws” (Baron Mayer Amschel Rothschild).

In summary, the president serves the Federal Reserve. As I see it, that drastically conflicts with serving the people. The Federal Reserve has controlled every president since 1913. And the ones who have gone against the directives of the banking elite have been assassinated.

 “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by its system of credit. We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominate men” – Woodrow Wilson (1919)

So when I hear all of the many things “Obama has done” in his first four years touted as reasons he should be reelected, I get annoyed. Regardless, however, of the laundry list of successes or failures we attribute to Obama’s administration, I think acknowledging Obama with the credit is superficial. I sincerely believe that Obama (and any other president for that matter) makes no real decisions. The president is a parrot—repeating what he is told to say, and a puppet—doing what he is told to do. Whether the puppet tricks or treats, kisses or kicks, intelligent people direct their response of the puppet’s action to the puppet master. Don’t be confused, however. Puppets can puppet. In such a complex society, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that puppets themselves can occupy the second and third tiers of the show. If you want to see the mind that facilitates the action, follow the strings—all of them.

 3.     Campaign issues are different from real everyday life issues

In my opinion, coverage of campaigns before a major election is huge distractions. The debates, news commentary, and commercials play on the emotional aspect of voters, getting them excited about irrelevant issues that have little to do with real decisions that affect citizens. In every election, issues related to Christianity (religion), abortion, homosexuality, gas prices, education, rights of illegal immigrants, etc. come up. The politicians give their usual campaign rhetoric about the matter, then the people who feel affiliated with a particular perspective vote en masse to support the candidate who professes to support the cause they are most passionate about.

This bothers me because it makes me feel like I am being played with. Many promises are made. Few are kept. I feel that the politician is fully aware of his impotence related to keeping promises. He is told to do or say whatever necessary to appeal to the masses. That way, whatever story is spun, the people will believe it. I am uninterested in being toyed with. I also uninterested in being promised something by someone who has no intentions on keeping the promise and/or no power to deliver it.

4.     Voting is NOT the only way to voice one’s concern/ express one’s voice

The main reason I voted in 2008 was because I was advised not to complain about the state of the union if I didn’t vote. You may have heard the argument that if you don’t vote, you essentially subscribe to whatever the outcome is, and therefore can’t complain. As a former complainer who wanted the space and place to complain, I decided to vote. After I voted, however, I thought about how I still couldn’t complain if my candidate didn’t win. If you vote, and your candidate doesn’t win, you can’t complain either because the process is such that your candidate may not win. He or she did not get enough support… the system works…so try again next time.

The way I see it, this cannot be the only way to express one’s discontentment with political matters. There have to be ways, in the meantime, to have one’s voice heard. Unfortunately, this is where Black people, in my view, have been stuck for the past number of years. We have participated in the system and have patiently endured the suffering that ensued from a decision we didn’t support or legislation handed down by a candidate we didn’t vote for. And we have also waited another four years to see which of several candidates would be the “least evil” to replace the one with which we are currently dissatisfied. Why are we so content with voting for the poison that will kill us the slowest? This is one of the reasons I supported the recent teacher’s strike in Chicago. They had been lied to for years and years and finally acted in a spirit of unity to express their frustration with being false hope and empty promises.

I feel that it is past time that we, as an American people, found other ways to make our voices heard in this society. Voting is NOT, despite popular opinion, the only way to express one’s voice. I lean toward not voting because voting makes us more likely to accept the status quo and go along with whatever happens during an administration. The vote has put us in a position of passivity. We are not complaining as much. We are not complaining loud enough… we are too compliant. Smh.

5.     Our ancestors fought for our right to choose.

I may get in trouble for this one, but people who say that our ancestors died that we may have the right to vote, or the right to sit in the front of the bus, or the right to eat in a segregated restaurant or sit beside white people in a waiting room are only partially right. As I see it, our ancestors died that we may have the right to CHOOSE to vote or not to vote, to sit in the front of the bus or the back, etc. They fought to have the restrictions that limited the Black man and woman’s right to determine for themselves. Our ancestors fought for true freedom and independence (as evidenced in the right to choose) and I think it is misleading to superimpose manipulative thoughts like these on our youth. I think our ancestors want us to do what is best for us in this day and in this time, not attempting to repeat what they did in their day and in their time.

Ultimately, I feel that the political system is corrupt—very corrupt. I believe that it’s a huge illusion designed to make people believe their concerns matter when, in fact, the government will almost always carry out their agenda despite what the people want or need. It is structured in such a way that gives people a sense of hope during times they would express themselves in rebellious and even violent ways because of feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.  The way I see it, American democracy, American justice, and American politics are just ideas paraded around as realities until the government becomes so powerful, nothing can be done to stop it. In an ideal society, I would vote. It would be a legitimate way to voice one’s concerns about the state of the union and the issues that are important and relevant to elections. It would be fair and honest. Everybody’s vote would count. But sense we are not living in an ideal society, I have a dilemma: to vote or not to vote. Help me decide.

Thanks,

Tim Lee


Addressing Black-on-Black Violence

Black-on-Black violence is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. I have been personally frustrated for some time concerning this matter because I feel that we, as a people, are waiting around for someone else to pass a law or install a camera that will end it once and for all. Though they are easier to do, and may even seem like good things to do, the aforementioned suggestions will do little to solve the problem. This piece will explore the problem, the source of the problem, and suggest solutions toward addressing Black-on-Black violence.

 

The Problem

Over the last 15 years, the statistics concerning Black-on-Black violence have gotten worse. And in these years, efforts to stop the violence have not worked. Curfews have failed. More police patrolling the streets of high-risk neighborhoods have failed. Metal detectors in the schools have failed. Surveillance cameras, with their flashing blue lights, mounted atop telephone poles have failed.

Despite the fact that these attempts to solve the problem have not worked, our communities are still flooded with police and cameras. Public schools have security guards, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, mandatory student uniforms, and transparent book bags. Every year there is a new idea that supposedly will be the one to stop the violence — but just like the radical ideas from all the other years, they fail.

Two years ago in Chicago, there was an idea to call in the National Guard to help the police stem the rising tide of urban violence. Is the only way to stop violence in Black communities to infringe on the privacy of all community members and intimidate them with a military-like presence?

The truth of the matter is that the aforementioned efforts have not worked and are not the best answers to the violence problem. The surveillance cameras do little to deter or solve crimes, and the police seem to occupy our neighborhoods rather than protect them. These efforts only add to the hostility, tension, and frustration that serve as a spark for much of the violence in the first place. If we really want to prevent the violence, we have to attack the cause. If my shoulder is bleeding, a Band-Aid on my forearm will not help. Neither will a Band-Aid on my hand or leg. But that is what seems to be happening in the case of violence in our communities. Much of the attention to curb violence has been misdirected and does not address the source of the problem.

The Source

Not long ago, I picked up a used social psychology textbook. After reading the first chapter, I was reminded that violent behavior has long been a topic of interest among scholars. The various theories that have been tested over the years have revealed that the problem of violence is not one of inherent delinquency. What follows is a short excerpt from the textbook. As you read, consider the solutions being offered up by today’s politicians and so-called experts. Do blue-light cameras, more policemen, metal detectors, etc. address what this book identifies as the source of the problem?

“… frustrating situations make people angry and increase their tendency to act aggressively. This is called the frustration-aggression hypothesis. It predicts that when people are blocked from achieving a desired goal, they feel frustrated and angry and are more likely to lash out…. The frustration-aggression hypothesis can also explain how large-scale economic and societal factors CREATE [emphasis mine] situations that lead to violence and crime. For instance, people who are poor and crowded into urban slums are frustrated. They cannot get good jobs, find affordable housing, provide a safe environment for their children, and so on. This frustration may produce anger, which can be the direct cause of violent crime” (Social Psychology, Prentice Hall, Eleventh Edition, 2006).

In our cities, people often commit crimes because they are frustrated, because they are poor, because they feel there’s no other option. People do not commit crimes, violent or non-violent, based on the absence of a surveillance camera or law-enforcement officer. People don’t steal because they want to be cool. People don’t join gangs because they don’t have a family. People don’t sell drugs to pass the time. People do these things because they’re hungry — both physically and spiritually. They do these things because they’re poor, because their angry, because they’re afraid.

This vantage point is important because, as I said before, if you don’t address the right source of the problem you will never arrive at the right solution to the problem.

To be honest, I am no longer convinced that the attempts of the government are well thought out or even submitted with the expectation to truly solve the problem. More often than not, the “solutions” are offered as quick fixes to keep voters placated or to keep certain public officials gainfully employed.

So, what do we do now? What can we do to rebuild, strengthen, and protect our own communities?

The Solution

We have to do something. We cannot let news reports cause us to feel overwhelmed and powerless. We cannot push aside our responsibility to the youth in our community because we think someone in a high place is working on a solution. We have to do something. Here are a few suggestions for actions we can take ourselves:

1. We must seek help from higher sources. Seeking wisdom through faithful and consistent spiritual practices help to discipline people and to provide them with a healthy outlet for venting frustration. Additionally, many problems are spiritual in nature. Everything that happens on the visible (physical) plane was birthed on an invisible (mental, emotional, spiritual) plane. We must ask ourselves and the Most High God/ Creator of universes known and unknown to reveal what needs to be addressed in higher spheres so that we can see a shift in the material sphere where we perceive reality.

2. We must educate ourselves. We cannot respond to our problems with frustration. We must learn more than what the media is telling us about these problems. We must also learn our history so we can see what methods were effective under similar circumstances in the past. We can use this knowledge to think creatively about how to address current and, in many cases, worsening conditions.

3. We must downsize. We cannot get sidetracked by American consumerism, teaching our children and younger people to purchase expensive materials and possessions to the point of going into debt, or robbing and killing to get what they want.

4. We must respect each other. Unity and community are not a thing of the past. In fact, African Americans coined the phrase “unity in the community.” We have to make a concerted effort to instill in our youth (whether we know them personally or not) that there is certain behavior that is unacceptable — and that killing your brother or sister is an extreme example of this unacceptable behavior.

5. We must fight poverty and we must fight any system that allows poverty. This is one of the chief causes of crime and violence. We cannot passively accept, or participate in, unjust economic systems that thrive on keeping a certain segment of society below the poverty line.

6. We must focus on better parenting. Many of our youth have little to no idea of what is right vs. wrong because they do not have responsible adults guiding them. As younger children they are taught that mischievous behavior is “cute” or worthy of being overlooked or handled lightly. This only perpetuates the misbehavior and adversely affects the structures/rules set by schools and greater society. This inevitably leads to trouble and the aforementioned frustration. We must learn to reprimand our children fairly and effectively and not be “scared” of DCFS or police intervention for being an active parent. Remember who the adult is and who the child is.

7. We must stop making excuses. The fact that we have multiple jobs, or work at night or on the weekends, does not exonerate us from being active parents to our children. In fact, it requires us to work even harder to be present and involved with our youth. The connection to our children, now more than ever, is of grand importance.

School is starting. Let’s pray that it’s a safe and positive one for our youth. And let each of us ask ourselves: Will I be a part of the solution or the problem?

 

An earlier version of this post appeared on UrbanFaith.com.


Chick-Fil-A Protestors: Please Stop Acting Like Morons

by: Aaron P. Taylor

…Okay, so I didn’t want to write a note about this. In fact, my goal was just to stay out of it altogether. But then I started reading more and more stupid comments from people about this issue, and felt the need to make my opinion on the subject heard.

There’s been a recent bru-ha-ha about comments the President of Chick-fil-a made during an interview with the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina (later reprinted by the Baptist Press). Prior to reading the actual comments made, the only thing I heard that could be gathered from it was that Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-a company were against gay marriage. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at this – Chick-fil-a’s been a company running on Christian values since it opened. What, you think their “closed on Sunday’s” policy is just to give the chicken an extra day to marinate?

What I couldn’t understand was why someone would come out and blatantly state this, knowing full well that gay people may actually go to their restaurants.  So, rather than listen to what everyone else was saying, I decided to find the actual article that started this whole thing.

And, as it turns out, my suspicions were correct: that’s NOT exactly what was said.

For those of you who don’t care to hear second-hand info, here’s a snippet from the article as it was written (click here to read the entire article):

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.

“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Let’s get a few things out the way here: first of all, nowhere in the ENTIRE ARTICLE do the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” or “bisexual” appear. So, anyone who’s been saying that Mr. Cathy stated he was against gay marriage has been misquoting him.

Mr. Cathy’s statement was made when he was being interviewed by the Biblical Recorder, which one can assume is a CHRISTIAN organization. The website that posted the article, the Baptist Press, is also a CHRISTIAN organization who’s motto is “News With a Christian Perspective.” The Christian view of gay marriage is that it’s wrong. Therefore, companies built by Christians are going to have the same viewpoint.

Furthermore, nowhere in his answer did he say he hated or had any animosity towards the gay community. In fact, he didn’t even go into discussion about his company’s position on marriage – one that’s been well-known for YEARS – until he was asked about it. And even then, it wasn’t as if whatever answer he gave was going to be that shocking. Can all of you who are now suddenly against Chick-fil-a seriously tell me, based upon how they’ve operated all these years, that you’re really, REALLY all that shocked that Chick-fil-a would support what they consider to be the biblical definition of a “family unit?”

I’ll just come out and say it: gay people take comments WAY too seriously sometimes.

They assume Mr. Cathy’s comment is just about their community. It’s not. Look at the way it’s worded: “traditional family.” Their stance is not about NOT supporting gay marriage (though I’m sure it’s not exactly something they’re looking to throw money at to support either). It’s about supporting the things and values they feel make for the healthiest family environment.

Their statement, if delved into more deeply, means they’re also against the following:

*Kids growing up in single-parented households

*Parents wanting to get divorced

*Families that constantly abuse themselves, each other, or others

*Incest relationships

*Families where the parents live together but aren’t married to each other

*Devil-worshipping families

It would be against the mission statement of the company – not to mention their image – if they decided to say “screw it” and show support for any and everything that goes against the nature of what their actual values are. If they are claiming to be a company based upon Christian values, supporting certain things – like the list above, as well as gay marriage – would be more harmful to them in the long run.

This is not to say these types of elements are not allowed to enter their restaurantsHowever, if their vision of what a “healthy family unit” is consists of households with a mom, a dad, a few kids and some grandparents, they have the right to support that vision.  They’re not discriminating against other types of families who come into their restaurant, but at the same time they shouldn’t have to feel the need to bend and/or change their views of what they feel a healthy family unit is just to make one group of people happy. In fact, if they DID do that now, it would be worse.

Before I finish this article up, I feel I should add something: I know someone is going to read this and want to comment with the response: “But Aaron, you’re Black! You should empathize with how gays would feel about this issue! How would you feel if they said they only support the idea of White marriages?”

First off, please stop comparing the gay struggle to the civil rights struggle. It’s not the same thing: Blacks were taken from their homeland, sold into slavery, separated from their loved ones, whipped, demoralized, pit against each other, and had to fight to get even an ounce of freedom and recognition as citizens. Tommy having to “struggle” about whether to tell his friends he likes boys is NOT a comparable situation.

More importantly: a company’s opinion about what they view a true marriage to be doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is how they treat me when I go into their establishment. Reality check: many, MANY businesses in this country were started and/or still ran by people who have views on things that are against my viewpoint. If I stopped supporting each one who had an “opinion” different from mine, I’d be walking around butt naked with no electronic devices or apartment to speak of.

Bottom line: if you liked Chick-fil-a before, don’t let Mr. Cathy’s sudden “shocking” statement about his company’s views on marriage stop you from eating there. You were eating there the day before you heard about him making the statement, but the company’s opinion has been public knowledge for YEARS. Suck it up, get your eat on, and make sure you order their lemonade when you do.

Aaron P. Taylor is a graduate of Hampton University. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, where he works as a film editor, creative consultant and writer. You can read more of his articles at www.1001ThingsToBeThankfulFor.com


Normalizing Homosexuality (pt 3)

Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 2000s

When Rosie O’Donnell came out in 2002 and became a spokesman for gay rights, public opinion shifted again. More people felt liberated by the caliber of celebrities coming out and the people started coming out of closets everywhere. The philosophical discussion around homosexuality also shifted. Do gay people have rights? Should they be allowed to marry? Should they be allowed to adopt children? Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of the new millennium? Interestingly, can you see how such questions subtly imply the acceptability of homosexuality generally, but the specifics within the “lifestyle” are up for debate?

We can’t forget JL King’s book, On the Downlow in 2004. “Down low” was no longer associated with the R. Kelly 1996 hit song talking about a secret (heterosexual) affair, but became a new term used to describe the anomaly of “straight” Black men who secretly had sex with other men, but didn’t classify themselves as gay. Society considered him as an authority because he was a Black man living the secret life he wrote about. As a consequence, the level of suspicion rose among different sects of the Black community against Black men.

Perhaps as a response the heightened suspicions, during this time period phrases like “pause” and “no homo” became very popular. “No homo” was used to preface a statement that may sound or be interpreted as homosexual, but is not. “No homo” is like a disclaimer people used so they would not be mis-taken as homosexual based on their comment. Soon after “no homo” came on the scene, “pause” was erected…no homo. LOL! If a man said something to another man that sounded homosexual in nature, the man hearing the message would have to say, “pause” to encourage the speaking man to think about what he said and say it another way to remove the homosexual suggestion. They not only showed a concerted effort of people attempting to distance themselves from being associated with homosexual before making a statement, it also indicated how homosexuality colored and influenced the mentalities of the masses.  Language and definitions changed. Symbols changed. The general sense of humor changed. Popular culture changed. Advertisements changed. Everything, in a real sense, has been affected by homosexuality.

In 2006, I distinctly remember controversy surrounding the book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland. An elementary school teacher read the book to her class in Lexington, MA when talking about weddings. There was an uproar around the fact that parents were not notified and that children were being influenced to accept homosexuality as normal. But parents would not be able to stop the other forms of media as it injected ideas of homosexuality to an impressionable generation of children.

From the middle of the first decade in the 21st century, to now, so much has happened. I don’t know everything, but here is a short list of things that I remember. Feel free to comment and add what you remember and I have left out.

In 2004 Governor (New Jersey) James McGreevey resigns over gay affair.

In 2006, pastor and spokesman against homosexuality, Ted Haggard, is involved in a mega-scandal where he is accused of sexual relationships with a male prostitute.

In 2007, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Brittney Spears and Madonna. Also in 2007, John Amaechi made history as being the first (former) NBA player to be an admitted homosexual.

In 2008, Wanda Sykes came out of the closet (rather loudly) at a rally in Las Vagas protesting Proposition 8. Katy Perry, A preacher’s kid, became an overnight sensation with her hit “I Kissed A Girl.” Clay Aiken came out later in the year.

In 2010, there was a lot of talk about My Princess Boy—a book inspired by real events about a 4-year-old Black boy who enjoys dressing up like a princess (to see more books similar to this, click here)

Late in 2010 and into 2011, Eddie Long, mega pastor and outspoken preacher against homosexuality faces accusations of sexual immorality with teenage boys.

In 2012, GLADD demands that CNN fire Roland Martin over controversial tweet that “encouraged violence against gay men.”

In May, President Barak Obama made headlines when he openly affirmed his support for same sex marriages and more recently Josh Dixon trying to make gay history by becoming the first out male gymnast on the US men’s Olympic gymnastic team, and the coming out of Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean.

Next post: Formula to Normalize Homoxexuality