It was sad to hear about the passing of a very prominent black pastor earlier this week, after he succumbed to his battle with cancer. Anytime someone dies, even if it is someone famous, we feel for their families and reflect on the impact he or she had on our lives (directly or indirectly).
One thing that surprised me about this news, though, was the response of some black people on social media. Of course, there were a number of #RIP posts, and people sharing photos, as well as memories and the lessons they learned from this man. And then, as the news got older and more widespread, I started seeing these types of posts:
“Regardless of how he lived his life, he was still a great man…”
Or, “He might not have been perfect, but he was still a great man…”
Or, “He was a man of God, so how dare you talk about his sins…because he was a great man…”
ICYMI: This pastor had been accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with boys and then (once they were of age) carrying on with them in a sexual manner (even though he vehemently opposed homosexuality). So, yeah, his “imperfection” wasn’t that he let the f-word fly during a sermon or that he stole millions from his congregation. This involved the alleged molestation and rape of people who trusted him.
Just when I thought black people were making progress when it came to talking about sexual abuse in our community.
Regardless of whether or not these allegations are true, why do we do this? Why do we constantly disregard the idea that the people we put on pedestals can do despicable things, too? Why do we treat one’s ability to partake in sexual abuse as a personality flaw and not as the downright disgusting crime that it is?
It doesn’t matter if pastor preached a good word if he’s messing with little boys.
It doesn’t matter if a singer’s music is bomb if giving little girls golden showers gets him off.
It doesn’t matter if granddaddy or daddy or uncle or boyfriend is paying the bills if he’s sneaking into your kid’s room every night.
Black people (some of us, at least) need to stop thinking that people’s works outweigh their transgressions, especially when those transgressions have ruined other people’s lives in the process. We’ve got a lot of hurt and dismayed people out here whose mamas or daddies or grannies or society didn’t believe them, shushed and shunned and shamed them, denied them justice when they made their abuse known. This is one conversation we need to have. This is one thing we need to address and hold people accountable for. We’ve got a lot of issues that we have to deal with and overcome, but let’s not forget about this one and the other seemingly unimportant ones that we tend to sweep under the rug because it makes us uncomfortable. We’re always talking about society or the justice system not having our backs, but in a lot of instances, we don’t even have our own.
We don’t know what exactly went on in this pastor’s (or anybody else’s) “bedroom,” but the last thing we need to be doing is condoning anybody’s actions by defending them, regardless of their position in society. We have got to do better in supporting those who have been abused and in holding the offenders accountable for their actions, however that looks.