Inspired by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ successful “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” is a platform that is designed to report news from the perspective of Black people for Black people.
Last night’s (Aug. 13) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” episode “God’s Plan” addressed the role of the Black church during the pivotal points of the pandemic and the evolution of Gospel music. Host and executive producer Eboni K. Williams was joined by Kelly Price, Israel Houghton, Lecrae, Bun B, Stacy Ike, Jonathan McReynolds, and Radius Etc.
After acknowledging the impact of Kamala Harris becoming the first Black woman VP candidate of a major political party, Williams introduced the greater topic of conversation: the Black church. First up on the digital panels were Kelly Price and Lecrae to deconstruct the evolution of Gospel music and the Black community’s relationship with church. “We have to create from an authentic place and when everyone is contrived and forced, people don’t grow from that,” Lecrae said about the complicated, yet functioning coexisting relationship between hip hop and Gospel music. “People don’t grow from that. They don’t experience change [and] it becomes a ritual, a tradition.”
“If Coronavirus and this global pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s that we don’t need a church building to have a relationship with God,” Price said in response to Williams’ prompt regarding the significance of the Black church. “It’s an institution that’s more American than it is biblical [and] it’s more of a business,” Lecrae chimed in about the difference between a relationship with God and a church building. “You want people there on Sunday so you can keep the lights on and the bills paid, but that ain’t what you were created to do.”
Williams further challenged Lecrae to explain the relationship between Gospel and hip hop music as it stands today, and he broke down the correlation between the two genres and made the point that Gospel needs to further innovate its music. “Gospel has to do the same thing and Gospel hasn’t done that; that’s what puts it in danger,” Lecrae explained to Williams about how hip hop has served as an umbrella and major influence in the music industry by cultivating cultures and adapting with the times.
As the “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” host closed out her conversation with Price and Lecrae, she pivoted into conversation with Jonathan McReynolds about the historical context of Gospel music in relation to R&B and hip hop. McReynolds told Williams there is “a lot more disconnection than there used to be” when asked about the current state of R&B and its ability to pay musical homage to Black churches and Gospel music origins. “It’s just a different time,” he added. “Church and God is not so much a centerpiece anymore for a lot of Black culture. It’s more of an accessory that shows up in the music, but more importantly that shows up in the way we approach life and thinking.”
McReynolds referenced a bible verse about the difficulty of a rich man getting into heaven to segway into addressing the impact of wealth and belief during COVID-19. “At the end of the day, we are a very rich nation,” he said “and the problem is...sometimes that money makes us feel like we got this by ourselves. It really takes moments where this stuff is out of our hands [and] that’s when you start looking for something that’s in charge.”
Up next were last night’s “Headlines,” which led with Harris making history. “I am excited and I’m proud of all Black women. This is the result of generations worth of work. The result of all of us,” Williams praised. “This is a moment that we should all be celebrating, not be comfortable, but be excited and see it as an opportunity to continue the work.” Other news headlines included Trump’s executive order for additional unemployment benefit cuts and COVID-19 cases spiking by 90% in children.
Israel Houghton joined Williams for the following conversation on how the new movement of the Black church has been impacted by the pandemic. Though Williams expressed her concerns for the Black church not being the same “bedrock” that it used to be for our community, Houghton assured that “the Black church is still the epicenter of where the largest people groups gather,” especially prior to social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
“I want to correct the assumption that we are godless,” Houghton spoke of this younger generation. “I don’t think this generation has rejected God; I think this generation has rejected the god of their parents.”
Houghton and Williams continued the conversation by addressing how young people today receive religion and express individualism, and how COVID-19 has challenged religion and spirituality throughout the past few months. “I want us to really understand what having a relationship with God really looks like,” Houghton said to Williams on the importance of genuity in your faith.
Stacy Ike was up next for the “Black Excellence in Entertainment” segment of “REVOLT Black News” to discuss Jordan Peele’s “Lovecraft Country” premiere on HBO, the fourth season of “Fargo” starring Chris Rock, Nia DaCosta becoming the first Black woman to direct a Marvel movie (Captain Marvel 2), and Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s “WAP” music video as the biggest YouTube debut for a female collaboration with 26.5 million views in 24 hours. Ike told Williams that while the video was spot-on for the two rappers’ brands, the more impressive component was its ability to receive feedback and drive “conversation that came about two Black women and their sexuality in this way.”
“What’s beautiful about the conversation being had,” Ike explained “is people are understanding when women own their sexuality, it’s another way for you to remember you don’t own your sexuality whether it’s men, other women [or] society.”
Williams added, “I love that it is forcing us as a culture to confront our misogyny and our hypocrisy when it comes to Black women just [showing] up and own the conversation of our bodies, our sexual pleasure and our appetite for full satisfaction.”
For the last segment, Bun B and Radius Etc spoke on the food crisis during COVID-19. “We understand that these people need help and if we don’t help our community, then no one else will,” B said about the role of the church in inner city communities. Etc dove deeper into his inspiration behind The Love Fridge initiative in Chicago and how the numbers of people suffering from hunger were “already insane,” with approximately 30 million people not having regular access to meals. “That’s definitely going to double over the next six to 12 months as far as Chicago, our average communities that really face a lot of this food apartheid,” he said. “Food apartheid is really what it is: racial discrimination.”
Bun B circled back about the importance of giving back to the very communities that supported him. “Rather than be someone who takes from these communities, I wanted to make sure that I was part of the effort to give back to these communities,” he said about his philanthropic work. B continued to disclose to Williams that now those who would typically volunteer to help are now in need themselves due to the pandemic, the essential role of corporate partners in the Black community during these times, and the parallel between hip hop and religion. “It’s hip hop, it’s religion. No matter your faith walk, it is community,” Williams added to Bun B’s point about hip hop and religion providing a sense of community for Black culture.
As she tied together the closing remarks for last night’s show, Williams encouraged viewers to recognize that our churches are “extremely vulnerable” during the pandemic. “Although the church may not be the epicenter for our community that it used to be, we still have to take this opportunity to lift up those institutions that have lifted us,” she said. Williams added before signing off with her favorite Bible scripture (1 Peter 4:10): “There are several churches that need our help so they can continue helping others.”