These are crucial times in the Black community. It is as though the community is broken into numerous pieces with scant opportunities for genuine collaboration and, therefore, unity. If the community does not unify, there will be no real success.
Unfortunately, it appears that there are forces outside of the community that are exacerbating the chaos. One of the major sources for this is a certain type of disinformation that comes from social media, especially platforms like Twitter and Facebook. What seems to be happening is the generation of memes that encourage a certain type of UNNECESSARY mean-spiritedness. It’s not clear if there is an elevation of this kind of thinking, or that the availability of social media makes it visible. What is certain is that Black people are being encouraged to be recalcitrant and downright mean to each other.
One of the bones of contention is the R. Kelly saga. Recently, Gayle King, a prominent television host, interviewed R. Kelly about the issues surrounding the allegations that have popped up since the Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, aired. There has been a firestorm of vitriol spewing back and forth between people who believe that R. Kelly is guilty of pedophilia and possibly that he is running a sex cult, and those who believe he is innocent, or who just don’t care if he is or not. During the interview R. Kelly had somewhat of a meltdown on camera, crying and ranting about how he is the victim, and that people are lying on him, etc. Basically, he came across poorly. There are, no doubt, people who previously supported him, or who had given him the benefit of the doubt, who are now looking upon him with renewed skepticism. In short, the interview was a disaster. Surprisingly, the blame for the fiasco has fallen squarely on Gayle King, who is well known as Oprah Winfrey’s best friend. People are trying to make it seem as though King is in cahoots with the white “powers that be” in order to bring down a successful Black man merely because she conducted the interview.
In a similar vein, and in a fortuitous turn of events, another interview took place with Oprah Winfrey and the young men who are accusing the late pop star, Michael Jackson, of sexual molestation when they were boys. The two had previously been called to testify about charges when Michael was alive, and they supported him. Actually, if the truth be told, they lied under oath. Now, as a result of a new highly-acclaimed documentary, Leaving Neverland, people are looking at Michael Jackson with fresh eyes. The documentary apparently has damning information with details that had not been publicly presented before now, and some elements of the Black community are going berserk. Once again, there is a giant rift, with diehard supporters refusing to believe that Michael Jackson committed the acts that are being attributed to him. And once again, incredibly, the main culprit being blamed for the controversy is – wait for it – Oprah Winfrey!!! People are saying that she is helping to bring down the Black community and destroy the Black man because she agreed to interview the two accusers who were featured in the film. Now, all of a sudden, photos of Oprah hugging Harvey Weinstein are re-surfacing, and are held up as proof that she embraces white people who are accused of sexual misconduct, but she is helping to destroy Michael Jackson’s legacy because he is Black. These assertions are ridiculous on the face of it. The photos of Oprah and Weinstein are old. But more important, it is ludicrous to blame Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King for the trials and tribulations that are bubbling up in the lives of R. Kelly and the late Michael Jackson.
These issues are symptoms of a greater fissure that is evident in the Black community. What is becoming evident is that there is a whole group of Black people who are thinking with their emotions to such an extent that they refuse to accept any wrongdoing on the part of African Americans if they can point to similar transgressions committed by white people. This is counterproductive and short-sighted. If our community is going to heal, we must first acknowledge the chinks in the armor in those among us in order to repair them. Also, we must stop attacking successful Black people for doing what their jobs demand as public figures, and that is to report what they see. We must stop this deflection! A Luta Continua.