Let me start with this: I find great value in the ratchet of the world. I’m listening to my jam, Bad and Boujee, as I type this and trust me, it don’t get no more ratchet than that.
Judge if you please, I don’t care.
A major theme of my earlier blog posts was my love of all things ratchet.
As you can imagine, I was elated when my Pastor shared the theme of this Sunday’s Service: Love, Hip Hop and the Judgmental Black Church; complete with the Love & Hip Hop logo on his Facebook announcement.
There’s nothing I love more than some ratchet Love & Hip Hop and related reality TV shows so I set my alarm clock, prepared to wake up and arrive on time so I could enjoy the bombs I knew Doc would drop.
Of course, I was late – as always – but I made it in time for the message:
Matthew 7 ~ Judging Others
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I know you’ve watched at least one episode of Love and Hip Hop, Real Housewives, Basketball Wives, Bad Girls Club, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Flavor of Love, For the Love of Ray Jay, Preachers of LA… the list could go on.
Don’t front as if at least one of these shows aren’t on your DVR or like you never Netflix binged on one or more of the seasons.
Of course, we could go on a tangent and debate how Black Reality TV impacts the Black Community but let’s stay focused on the topic at hand: Judgment.
Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
As a society, we love to judge the cast members of reality TV but what about the plank in your own eye?
Whether it’s scripted, or not, the cast members of Black reality TV are sharing the stories of their lives. The only difference between a cast member of Love and Hip Hop and you is that you’re business ain’t displayed on VH1. No, you keep your ratchet ways to yourself, in secret, so that no one can judge you for doing the exact things (if not worse) they are doing for the world to see and critique.
We fear it.
We do it.
We can’t escape it.
We allow it to dictate our lives.
That must end today… No. It must end, like yesterday.
The Judgmental Church
As a young woman, coming into my own, striving to be my authentic self in a world that wants to put you in a box, I can’t help but notice the hypocrisy of the church.
- Come as you are… but don’t wear a skirt that goes above your knees or you’ll be handed a cloth to cover yourself.
- Come as you are… but don’t come in filling the pews with the stench of alcohol that’s sweating from your body as it cleanses itself from last night’s binge.
- Come as you are… but you better be wearing a three-piece suit, as if the Lord can’t penetrate your soul if you’re wearing your jersey and timbs.
- Come as you are… but keep that baby quiet and let’s not even talk about the fact that you had that baby out of wedlock.
The list could go on.
Yes, in theory, all people are welcomed in the House of the Lord. But let’s get one thing straight. They ain’t coming because they don’t want to deal with your judgment.
As my Pastor said, when it comes to Black reality TV, “You’ve got to be willing to dig a little deeper and not just look at all of the fights and all of the cussin’ and all of the drink throwing to realize that behind all of that which you see on TV is a story.”
As much as we judge the cast members of Black reality TV for the stories, of their real life struggles that they share with us, we must acknowledge that if people really knew our own stories they wouldn’t even want to sit next to us in the pew.
We all have a story. It’s just not shared on VH1, Bravo, Oxygen and all those other ratchet networks.
So why are we frontin’ like our ish don’t stink? Why are we frontin’ like our life isn’t Love and Hip Hop? Why are we frontin’ like we aren’t real people with real struggle?
Why are we focusing our attention outward – judging others- instead of focusing inward and addressing our own ratchet behaviors?
It’s time we stop reinforcing the oppressive idea that the church is only for those who are socially acceptable and righteous; Good Church Folk.
It’s time to grow up and get over ourselves.
It’s time we remove that big ol’ plank from our eye.
Socially acceptable? That ain’t for me.
I don’t strive to be accepted in society. As I shared in I’m a Bitch [p.s. #S4tlG] I am many things and “socially acceptable” ain’t one of them.
I’m complex, multi-dimensional and messy.
I can roll up to church blasting bad and boujee AND ALSO get lost in the beauty of Tab’s Music Ministry. However, I will always prefer the former.
I can eat a filthy greasy cheesesteak from a hood corner store AND ALSO enjoy a five-course meal complete with an unnecessary amount of silverware. However, I will always prefer the former.
I can engage in intellectually stimulating conversations with the “Black Elite,” using only five or more syllable words AND ALSO bus’ it up with the niggas on the block. However, I will always prefer the former.
Quick sidebar: I know the word “nigga” offends many; Black and White. But I don’t care. As I wrote in To Knicker or Not to Knicker: That is the Question, “nigga,” is my word and I will use it as I please. Therefore, I won’t be issuing a p.s. Sorry for the Language, Grammy.
I don’t want to be “socially acceptable.”
I want to be me.
Don’t get it twisted, though. I’m not saying that I don’t want to be the best human God wants me to be.
I’m saying I’m not gunna front while God is still working on me.
I’m one of those “former or present ratchet people,” as Doc says, that God still uses, even in the middle of my ratchetness.
Tabernacle: Where I can come as I am
Today, Doc said, “Thank God for a place in Tabernacle, where you can still come, even though you don’t have it all together.”
I know that’s the truth.
I stopped going to church a long time ago because I didn’t want to deal with the hypocrisy and judgment of Good Church Folk (see Transformation: The Wayne Wonder Theorem where I reflect more on this idea of “Good Church Folk”).
I may have left the church a long time ago but now I’m back like I never left and God is using me in ways I could never imagine.
I owe that all to God for bringing me to Tabernacle, a place where I can go, even though I don’t have it all together.
Maybe it’s the fact that my Pastor loves “nigga” as much as I do.
Or maybe it’s because the Mothers embrace me– wet hair and all as I run into church late- with a warm smile, complete with a hug and kiss on the cheek.
Maybe it’s because I can wear what I want or because I can challenge a comment made during service or Bible study; safely analyzing the scripture with my Womanist Theology.
Or maybe it’s because my Pastor just keeps it trill, acknowledging that he too is human.
Whatever it is, Tab is my home and I always feel free from judgment when I walk through the doors.
Dealing with Judgment
I’m fortunate to have a space I identify as a judgment-free zone.
That’s not happenstance.
It’s the direct result of individuals committing to removing the plank from their own eyes.
How do we create a judgment-free zone? Doc had four suggestions:
- Investigate- do your own research before casting a stone. Avoid relying on another person’s perception because it likely isn’t reality. Prime example. Someone told me not to go to Tab. In typical Alisia fashion, I went to Tab. I did my own investigation and came to the conclusion that my Pastor is that nigga and anyone who says otherwise is simply a hater. I’m thankful I did my own investigation and decided for myself because, if I didn’t, I may not have found my home.
- Be an Individual – celebrate your wholeness. You are a multi-dimensional being. Don’t fake the funk; be authentic. When people see you doing that it makes them feel safe to do the same. It creates a space where you can love God and still be who you are: Tupac lovin’, N-Bomb dropping, ratchet and all.
- Challenge Your Identity- Again, humans are multi-dimensional. Some of our identities are authentic, others are fraudulent. We put on a mask and act out a part in a play, behaving in a way that we believe is socially acceptable, until we can safely remove that mask and go back to our ratchet or more authentic ways. If you’re authentically righteous, that is great for you but if you’re not, there’s no need to fake the funk. Don’t be a hypocrite playing a game.
And number four:
To be fair, he didn’t say “mind your daaaaamn motherfucking business bitch,” but I wouldn’t be my authentic self if I didn’t throw in some ratchetness! [p.s. Sorry for repeating the foul-mouthed language of Kevin Hart, Grammy].
Plain and simple. If you’re not willing to put in the work to investigate someone before making a decision about who that person is, MIND YOU BUSINESS, or as one of my favorite Love and Hip Hop cast members would say: MIND YOUR BIZZNYEE!
If I could leave you with one thing, it would be this:
First, take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly.