GMO Urban Ministries is an offshoot of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church on Oklahoma City’s largely-black northeast side. They’ve scheduled five public forums through the next year in an effort to “reconnect and revitalize” the black community. The first of them was Saturday, at which OU Black Studies instructor Kevin McPherson laid it on the line:
Why would you expect the very people who made you slaves to save you?
Okay, there’s just a hint of Distrust Whitey in there, and it’s not like I’ve haven’t heard it before. Cue the Temptations’ single “Ball of Confusion,” as they rattle off sound bites from the incessant media blitz, and pick up on Eddie Kendricks: “Vote for me and I’ll set you free!”
But I don’t think Dr McPherson was baiting anyone, especially when you look at what he said in the context of, say, this:
Much of northeast Oklahoma City, formerly the geographic heart of the black community, is no longer owned by blacks, said John Pettis of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency.
“Until we go back to owning this community, we can’t determine its destination,” Pettis said.
Parents have to regain control of their families, discipline their children and instill character and morals, said Wayne Reid of the Eastside Capitol Gateway Main Street program.
“For so long, we’ve allowed the community to raise our children, then we wake up one morning, and we don’t know who that person is in the house,” Reid said.
So jump a couple years forward in the soundtrack of the city, to the point where James Brown says “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing / Open up the door, I’ll get it myself.” Abject declarations of white guilt, however well they may play on the nightly news, don’t mean a thing to the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. And I suspect Kevin McPherson doesn’t want to hear them either: there’s work to be done.