I must tell you that one of the saddest displays I have witnessed over the past week has been the debacle surrounding several members of the Black clergy and their political meeting that was touted as an endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
I have been one of the biggest proponents of telling Black people not to put all of their eggs in one basket and encouraging Black people to avoid voting straight-ticket in elections.
It has been my belief and stance that we, as Black people, should develop our own collective agenda and present that agenda to every candidate, regardless of political party.
According to Merriam-Webster, an agenda is a list or outline of things to be considered or done. An agenda lists the meeting activities in the order they’ll be presented from beginning to end.
An agenda should always be developed in order to effectively communicate to each participant that the meeting will be conducted in an orderly fashion and that productivity is the ultimate goal. An agenda can ensure that the meeting stays on track and that special projects and routine operations proceed as intended.
Having an agenda allows every participant to familiarize themselves with the purpose of the meeting and the topics being discussed, while determining what outcomes and deliverables every participant may expect from the meeting.
The difference between having a meeting, with or without an agenda, could spell the difference between success and chaos. Having a meeting with an agenda can lessen arguments, control emotional responses, increase productivity, build unity and respect the time of every participant.
An agenda can help a group of people function as an effective team.
By having all participants accept the agenda in advance of any meeting, a spirit of unity is thrust upon the participants that positively impacts the meeting flow and strategically directs what issues will be discussed. Having a real agenda in place challenges everyone in the meeting to have a greater sense of understanding and control of their emotions, so that everyone is in agreement with the overall goals and objectives being more important than selfish outcomes.
I don’t have a problem with any Black person, Black leader or Black minister meeting with candidates from any particular political party, however, when you have that meeting without having a plan of action or an agenda that is representative of something substantive and progressive, this is where I have a problem.
That is what we saw this week when a collection of Black ministers met Trump at his Trump Towers in New York. The rhetoric that was spewed by each of the Black ministers that spoke before the meeting and after the meeting, has been deeply disturbing to me.
When you consider the fact that these Black ministers are leading congregations of predominately Black people and are essentially unable to effectively communicate their reasoning and need to meet with Trump is problematic and should be concerning to us all – especially those who attend their churches.
As I watched an interview between TV One’s News One Now host and managing editor Roland Martin and Dr. Steve Parson, pastor of the Richmond Christian Center in Richmond, Virginia, I began to cringe as I witnessed a man who leads a congregation of thousands, unable to effectively communicate one thing that Trump discussed that would benefit the African American community over their two-hour meeting with him.
When asked about any specific public policy issues that were discussed in the meeting with Trump, Dr. Parson could not even cite anything of substance. The same thing was clear with all of the Black ministers who have spoken about the meeting. They have spouted off about Trump promising to bring jobs to the Black community and supporting financial literacy and encouraging entrepreneurship, but nothing of substance was discussed concerning some concrete plans to address unemployment, home ownership, small business lending disparity, education, mass incarceration, police brutality and other important issues in the Black community.
In all, it was just another meeting with no real agenda, held with Black people who have the ability to influence, but are not on the frontlines of many of these important issues. It is sad.
I love the way Pastor Jamal Bryant of The Empowerment Temple Church in Baltimore, MD, described his fellow Black ministers who met with Trump.
Pastor Bryant called them “prostitutes” who were simply seeking “their 15 minutes of fame” and he said “they are prostituting themselves and, in essence, the Black church.”
Pastor Bryant refused to attend the Trump meeting and went on social media to call out every Black minister whose name was listed on a flyer that promoted the meeting. He accused those who did go to meeting of “selling out” for a moment in the national spotlight.
Pastor Bryant also criticized the Black ministers who chastised him for working with Minister Louis Farrakhan and with the Black Lives Matter movement, yet chose to meet with Trump, who has publicly been disrespectful to Blacks, Hispanics, women, the disabled and many more.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that “our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
Black ministers have always provided leadership, encouraged education and focused on economic growth in the Black community, so in order for Black people to respect the Black church and consider it relevant to their lives, Black ministers must go beyond simply meeting with political candidates and must step up and use their voice, influence and resources to go beyond building fancy edifices. Black ministers need to be the voices that are respected again.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.