R. KELLY, JUSSIE SMOLLETT, AND THE BIG PICTURE

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Black History Month 2019 was very eventful. In the space of less than a month some very high profile scandals emerged. First, Jussie Smollett, one of the key actors on the Fox television program Empire, was involved in a mystery of mammoth proportions. On January 29, Smollett reported that he had been attacked by two white men who hurled homophobic and racial slurs while dousing him with a liquid and placing a rope around his neck. After considerable investigation by the Chicago Police Department, the story emerged that no white males were involved; that, in fact, two American brothers of Nigerian descent were allegedly paid by Smollett to rough him up. One of the reasons offered was that Smollett was unhappy with his salary on Empire. Smollett was subsequently arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct” for filing a false report. He was released on $100,000 bond.

Another significant event was connected with R. Kelly, the beleaguered R&B singer who has been accused, for decades, of having improper relationships with underage girls. Recently, Michael Avenatti, the infamous attorney whose profile rose dramatically when he represented Stormy Daniels in a case connected with President Donald Trump, has revealed two new videotapes, apparently very clear, allegedly with one showing R. Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Kelly was subsequently arrested and charged with sexual abuse. His bond was set at $1 million, which his lawyer allegedly said that he didn’t have.

These situations have created a firestorm of controversy, especially among Black people. A great number of folks have pounced on Smollett, and a lot of them are also gleeful about the R. Kelly arrest. Both of these situations are in the early stages of development, and it remains to be seen what will ultimately happen with them. One thing is certain, these issues have garnered the lion’s share of attention from the Black community. And therein lies the rub!

While the Black community is lamenting and pontificating regarding those two events, the world is in a state of chaos, especially America. At press time, the American population is waiting for the culmination of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that will determine whether or not there was collusion with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election. While this is happening, President Trump has placed the country in a state of National Emergency for the purpose of having his way about erecting an illogical wall placed on the southern border. He has gotten his way; this non-Emergency emergency has resulted in a shifting of funds, and the border wall is in the process of being built. We are, in fact, facing a Constitutional crisis. In other words, Donald Trump has proven to be able to do whatever he has wanted to do. He is showing signs of fascist leanings, even though his administration is like a revolving door when you count the number of people that have been fired or arrested. His Republican party, which resembles more of a cult rather than a traditional one, seemingly has no backbone when it comes to dealing with him. America is in chaos, but we are not alone.

Years ago, during the George H.W. Bush presidential administration, he spoke of A New World Order. The notion had been bandied around on the conspiracy theory circuit for a long time. Basically, while the Black community is continually stuck on the “fighting racism merry-go-round,” the world is being transformed. The conspiracy theorists seem to be on point, with fascism rearing its ugly head in many places. We are faced with the very real threat of climate change, which is being denied by the President of the United States and some others, and France, Europe, Venezuela, Israel, Syria, and other places all over the globe are experiencing their own versions of chaos.

It is important, therefore, that African Americans not lose sight of the BIG picture, i.e., of the things that are happening all around us that will render the fight for equality null and void if we don’t pay attention. After all, what good will it be if we find ourselves fighting for equality in a world that has been politically and environmentally terraformed? We must find the will to be vigilant on multiple fronts. Not only should we learn to address issues in our community from a unified standpoint; we must take that momentum to the global stage. A Luta Continua.

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