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Competing visions of racial justice

Anti-white and anti-Semitic statements spark debate over the meaning of “black lives matter”

Actor Terry Crews Associated Press/Photo by Richard Drew (file)

Competing visions of racial justice

A message of reconciliation from Terry Crews, an African American actor and Christian, didn’t sit well with left-leaning groups who attacked him for hurting progress toward racial justice. “If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister,” Crews tweeted on June 30. “I have family of every race, creed, and ideology. We must ensure #blacklivesmatter doesn’t morph into #blacklivesbetter.”

Critics accused Crews of naivety. In a July 6 interview, CNN host Don Lemon said Crews “stepped in it” and did not understand the Black Lives Matter movement. But Crews has remained committed to a message of unity. On July 15, he called out TV personality Nick Cannon, whose comments in a podcast seemed to confirm Crews’ fears about divisiveness.

In an earlier interview with rapper Richard Griffin, Cannon claimed humanity’s capacity for compassion was tied to having melanin, the pigment that darkens skin. Referring to white people, he said, “They’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of deficiency, so therefore the only way they can act is evil.” He called white people “true savages” and said they were “closer to animals.” Cannon and Griffin also said various Jewish families controlled the world and blacks were the real Semitic people.

Cannon’s bizarre ideas about history and race have their roots in the teachings of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who claims white people are a race of devils created by a black scientist 6,600 years ago. In spite of his racist teachings, Farrakhan has often enjoyed popular and political favor because of his association with well-known African American activists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

In a July 14 column for The Hollywood Reporter, former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar chastised black celebrities for promoting Farrakhan’s ideas. In recent weeks, rapper Ice Cube, NFL player DeSean Jackson, and former NBA player Stephen Jackson used anti-Semitic rhetoric in their promotion of racial justice. Abdul-Jabbar warned that Farrakhan’s anti-white ideology “is the kind of dehumanizing characterization of a people that causes the police abuses that killed … George Floyd.” Former NBA star Charles Barkley echoed Abdul-Jabbar’s sentiment, saying, “I don’t understand how you beat hatred with more hatred. That stuff should never come up in your vocabulary, and it should never come up in your heart.”

Last week, ViacomCBS fired Cannon for his comments, removing him from his successful hip-hop comedy show Wild ’N Out. Lionsgate postponed plans for him to host a daytime talk show, pushing back the project to fall 2021. Fox, on the other hand, decided to keep Cannon as the emcee for The Masked Singer after he publicly apologized to Jews and promised to host a rabbi on his next episode of Cannon’s Class. At the same time, he excoriated ViacomCBS in a Facebook post, claiming the corporation was looking for an excuse to rob him of his “billion-dollar Wild ’N Out brand.”

Cannon discovered that in the world of social media, you can’t please everyone. After the backlash over his comments, he experienced another wave of criticism for his apology. “I hurt an entire community and it pained me to my core, I thought it couldn’t get any worse,” Cannon tweeted. “Then I watched my own community turn on me and call me a sell-out for apologizing.”

Washington football team owner Dan Snyder

Washington football team owner Dan Snyder Associated Press/Photo by Patrick Semansky (file)

No more passes

Just when the NFL team formerly known as the Washington “Redskins” seemed to have turned the corner from controversy last week, 15 women accused several former employees of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

None of the accused men still work for the franchise. Last week, the club fired the director of player personnel, Alex Santos, and his assistant director, Richard Mann II. Larry Michael, the radio voice of the team for 16 years, announced his retirement on Wednesday. Other accused personnel had previously left. The allegations cover incidents from 2006 through 2019.

The Washington Post reported Thursday on the alleged inappropriate actions and remarks. They said Santos made unwelcome advances and comments and pinched a woman on the hip. Mann sent improper sexual text messages, the women said.

They also described Michael’s allegedly disparaging and sexual speech toward women, including once on a hot mic. Other accusations included a team executive telling women to wear revealing clothing and flirt with suite holders.

“We all tolerated it because we knew if we complained—and they reminded us of this—there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in a heartbeat,” said Emily Applegate, the only woman to speak on the record.

In a statement Friday, majority team owner Dan Snyder apologized on behalf of the team, decrying the behavior and vowing to set higher standards. He has hired a Washington firm to address the accusations and review team policies and culture.

Earlier in the week, the franchise announced it would drop the 87-year-old name “Redskins” and its Indian head logo, which many saw as a slur against Native Americans. Increasing pressure from corporate sponsors finally pushed Snyder to make the change after resisting for years. —Sharon Dierberger

Washington football team owner Dan Snyder

Washington football team owner Dan Snyder Associated Press/Photo by Patrick Semansky (file)

Children’s author changes his story

Bestselling author Matthew Paul Turner, known for his children’s books When I Pray for You and When God Made You, revealed a surprising new chapter in his life last week. He announced on Facebook and Instagram he is gay and divorcing his wife.

Turner previously edited CCM magazine and has written several books for adults critiquing Christian fundamentalism. “Though my own faith evolved long ago to become LGBTQ+ affirming, my journey toward recognizing, accepting and embracing myself took much longer,” he said. He plans to continue writing for kids.

His wife, Jessica Turner, also a writer, posted she felt this is the right move for the family: “We have worked for more than a year on trying to make our marriage work, even in light of Matthew’s truth, but it wasn’t healthy or fair to us or our children.” The Nashville-based couple has three children. —S.D.

Collin Garbarino

Collin is WORLD’s arts and culture editor. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University and resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas.



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