‘Denzel Washington and the TRUTH’
By Pastor Rasheed Z Baaith
“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
Denzel Washington has always been one of my favorite personalities and my favorite actor. It has never been just his great talent I’ve admired, but the fact he was always thoughtful in how he spoke about Black people and our experience in America. I have always believed he loves Black people and I still believe that despite what is presently being said about him by some of us.
Recently in an interview he gave about his new picture “Roman J Israel, Esq.,” in which he plays a lawyer, the genre is drama. He was asked if the movie has given him any thoughts about the criminal justice system and African Americans.
He responded by saying “It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure…so you know I can’t blame the system…it’s unfortunate we make such work easy for them.”
A lot of folks are upset because he said he couldn’t “blame the system.” I think that as is often the case when making statements about profound realities, he is both right and wrong, and I think, too, it depends on what “system” we are speaking of. One thing he is correct about is the fact we need fathers more than we need baby daddies and even more we need Black men who accept that fact to speak up more and more about the absence of fathers and men in our homes and of their willingness to step in where need-ed.
In the generation preceding mine, Black men even older teen age Black males would help socialize, develop, direct and discipline Black boys. The saw it as their responsibility to do so and they were unhesitant about it. With a few notable exceptions among us that no longer is the case. If our people are going to survive and go from survival to success to significance as Bishop Christopher Lewis says, then Black men are going to have to be men in every since of the word.
But the sisters have a great role to play and it is this: the fact that sex is pleasurable is a mercy from God. The objective of sex is procreation and the more it is done the greater the chance of pregnancy. Every sister needs to ask herself “What kind of father will this man be that I am being intimate with if I get pregnant.” If he does not pass the father test, he is not worthy of touching you. So don’t let him.
Denzel also said this, “Our prison system needs reform at a fundamental level. We have the highest incarceration rate in the Western world…it’s not racially equal, it’s not socio-economically equal.”
That’s not the statement of someone who is unaware of the part the system plays in the mostly racial based, pernicious imprisonment of our people.
Denzel may not have said what he said in a way a lot of people did not find palatable but hard truth can leave a bitter taste.