Inviting the GOP presidential candidate into a black space only cheapens the significance of the black church.
Growing up in Detroit, I remember Bishop Wayne T. Jackson for two things: Gators and holy water. And he made a profit off both.
Jackson is what my Alabama-raised late great-grandmother would call a “jackleg” preacher, someone who’s in the pulpit but not of the pulpit, if you get what I mean. Far be it for me to disrespect a man of the cloth, but sometimes you have to call it what you see it. I’ve never gotten a good feeling from the Bishop.
More opportunistic than missionary, it’s no surprise that when rumors of (*sigh*) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was planning a visit to a black church in Detroit last week, Jackson bubbled up as the preacher he’d visit. (I had other guesses, but I decided to keep them to myself.) In a post on his website, Jackson explains why he’s welcoming Trump:
On September 3, 2016 the Republican Candidate Donald J. Trump will be interviewed by myself Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, President, Impact Network, on the issues that directly affect the heart of many areas within the African American community. This interview will premier during an exclusive Impact Network special presentation called, “Voice of the People.”
Similar to media outlets around the country, Impact Network sent a formal letter inviting the Democratic and Republication candidate an opportunity to be interviewed. Mr. Trump will be allowed to outline his policies followed by a frank on-air conversation with Bishop Jackson. We hope that Candidate Hillary Clinton will accept our offer so we can give her the same opportunity. During this televised event we will address real issues facing our communities such as law and order, police and black citizens, black lives matter, racism in 2016, economic empowerment, education, and incarceration just to name a few.
This interview is NOT a rally or an endorsement for Mr. Trump. This is an opportunity as a community to get answers to questions that seriously impact our daily lives and future. Our community is diverse and not all issues relate to all black people, but our goal is to address those issues which our most pressing to parts of our community in these times. As the only African American Christian Television Network, we believe that both candidates understand the importance of reaching our viewers.
Let’s be clear on one thing: This is not “an opportunity as a community to get answers.” This is a ratings grab, pure and simple.
It’s shock value. It’s entertainment. It’s getting people to tune into a Christian television network to see what kind of operation Jackson is running in the hopes that viewers will keep tuning in after Trump leaves. It’s an exercise in vanity for a man who literally takes bottles of water, says a prayer over them and sells them. You could walk to your nearest party store, buy a bottle of water yourself and read a few holy verses over it.
It’s disrespectful to the black church in Detroit. It sends the message to non-Detroiters that Black Christians are cheaply and easily bought. Just show up on Sunday, and you’ve got our vote. It is true that political candidates absolutely must stump in the church to cozy up to Black voters. But there is such a thing as discretion. You wouldn’t just let anyone come up to the pulpit (or in this case, the interview chair), would you?
Jackson is fully aware of this discretion, and he’s not choosing to ignore it. He’s just out for the viewers. He wants to get your reaction to a pompous white man entering into a – quote-un-quote – holy, safe space for black folks.
Here’s what you can do: Ignore it.
Don’t tune in. Find literally anything else to do on September 3. Don’t share the links from our local media. We’re not covering it at BLAC, but you already know the politics reporters at the dailies will be tuned in, albeit begrudgingly. They don’t want to write this story, but they know your curiosity translates into site traffic.
It’s OK to ignore Trump in Detroit. I mean, it’s not like you’re voting for him anyway! Your life will go on. Everything will be fine. Promise.