Preaching a ‘Black Genocide’ Parable | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Preaching a ‘Black Genocide’ Parable

Speaking in Jackson recently, Pastor James Manning of Harlem said black abortion would be the end of Beyoncé, Jay Z, McDonald’s, Nike and Essence Magazine. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Speaking in Jackson recently, Pastor James Manning of Harlem said black abortion would be the end of Beyoncé, Jay Z, McDonald’s, Nike and Essence Magazine. Figuratively speaking, of course. Photo by Trip Burns.

It wasn't a large crowd that gathered to hear a group of infamous clergymen share their prophecy at the last abortion clinic in the state last week. Their message: Abortion is "black genocide."

The four black preachers stood at a pulpit near the edge of the Jackson Women's Health Organization property, next to a fence decorated with signs reading "Don't Be A Dicktator" and "You Won't Defetus." Near the entrance of the bright pink building, women and men wearing eccentric clothing chanted "women's lives matter" and "my abortion saved my life."

Only one or two black protesters were in attendance.

The preachers, some called "outrageous provocateurs" by local clergyman C.J. Rhodes, were there as part of a demonstration by Operation Save America, a controversial Texas-based organization aimed at abolishing abortion in the United States.

Police cars lined the opposite side of the road. A group of policemen huddled around one of the black preachers wearing a "USA" T-shirt. It was the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny and Fox News contributor, and he had just been accused of shoving Michelle Colon, a JWHO escort who eventually pressed charges against the preacher.

Peterson, who calls himself a friend of Fox News' Sean Hannity, took the pulpit shortly after. "They're trying to get me arrested over there, but that's OK. I'll go to jail for the unborn child," he said.

From Parable to Prophecy

The preachers speaking in Jackson consisted of Peterson, Pastor James Manning, the Rev. Mychal Massie and Bishop Otis Kenner, all provocative and all opponents of abortion.

Manning told Operation Save America National Director Rusty Thomas that he was there to give the eulogy for JWHO and to say "it's over," Thomas told the JFP later. Unfortunately for Manning, a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that a law designed to close the clinic was unconstitutional in July, suggesting that it is not, in fact, over.

The preacher, who is from Harlem, N.Y., used most of his 14 minutes on the pulpit outside JWHO to tell a fictional story about how Beyonce, Jay Z, representatives from McDonald's, Nike and Essence Magazine and other businesspeople expressed concern to him about the decreasing marketplace of black people due to abortion.

Even though he eventually admitted that his story was a parable and that he was never told these things, he said the facts are true—that record labels and magazines that cater to black communities are losing customers due to abortion.

"In their secret board rooms, that's what they're talking about; they just don't invite me to come to hear it," Manning said. "But it's the truth, and it's the truth from almighty God."

When asked about the myths spread at the press conference, like the fact that McDonald's will cease to operate in three to seven years because of a shrinking black population, Thomas said that Manning's claims were prophecy, not necessarily based in fact.

'Plantation Preachers'

Framing abortion in the context of genocide—defined as the intentional killing of a large group of people of a specific ethnic group or nationality—is not a new strategy in the anti-abortion movement. Those dedicated to abolishing abortion often compare abortion to the Holocaust and the KKK.

The delivery of the message lacked uniqueness as well. The four preachers were brought to Jackson by Thomas, a white anti-abortion organization leader, to speak to a group of mostly white abortion protesters.

"There have always been plantation preachers who have had to preach the truncated gospel that appeased white supremacy and sought to ameliorate the liberatory imagination of black folks," said Rev. C.J. Rhodes, Oakland Memorial Chapel clergyman and the Alcorn State University director of student religious life.

Thomas responded by saying: “It’s important that black people see black pastors make that connection and to get this message out ... I’m a white man. In other words, I have limited credibility when it comes to our black brothers and sisters simply because of my race. … I’m trying to get a specific message out to a specific people.”

But, Rhodes argues, these are not the voices that represent the majority of the black community, and they do more to hinder the dialogue than to promote it.

"That's not the way to get a message across to black folks. You don't call on some buffoon to come out and showboat and do this clown show for 15 minutes to get the attention of black women and men," Rhodes said.

'Uncle Ruckus'

One fact anti-abortion activists like to call upon is that Margaret Sanger—birth-control pioneer and founder of American Birth Control League, which became Planned Parenthood—recruited black preachers to spread the message of birth control in 1939.

Rhodes questions this similarity. "I wonder if there's a group of white conservatives who have, in essence, hired these particular preachers to be the conservative versions of a Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton," Rhodes said.

"So, they have to dance to the puppet strings of Sean Hannity. ... When you pull back, what you recognize is that this conversation is predominately had by Peterson, by Manning, in contexts of very, very white conservative audience or black audiences that one would argue are self-hating."

Manning, Rhodes points out, has gone on record saying blacks have done nothing of note in history except with the help of white people. Manning has called Obama the son of Satan, the ultimate evil.

"I wonder if he's doing this as a real sincere sense of call, or is this a propaganda thing for him?" Rhodes said. "They almost sound like Uncle Ruckus," Rhodes said, referring to a self-hating African American character on the cartoon "Boondocks."

Even Massie, the creator of the Daily Rant blog, downplayed civil-rights concerns at the press conference.

"We have people saying, 'Oh it's so horrible,'" Massie said in his most exaggerated, mocking voice. "'Black children, black people are so mistreated. Black people can't get a break. Black people are disenfranchised. Back people can't get an education. Black people can't get a job. Black people can't get food.'"

"You can go without food. You cannot go without life," Massie said.

These seemingly deceptive preachers still speak the truth on the issue of abortion, Thomas said. “Obviously, no man is perfect. and I’m probably not going to agree with everything that everybody says,” Thomas said, but when it comes to abortion, these conservative talking heads have got it right—Roe v. Wade is a ‘demonic order’ and pro-abortion activists are possessed by the Devil.

'Womb to Tomb'

The preachers and many protesters wanted desperately to share their knowledge of Planned Parenthood's history. The reproductive health-care provider has ties to Sanger, who joined a shocking number of progressives, conservatives and early-20th-century intellectuals to support eugenics (forced sterilization) for poor women, as well the ability to choose contraception and abortion. Anti-abortion activists use this fact to claim that abortion providers are racist and target black families.

They do not tend to acknowledge the fact that eugenics (a forced procedure) and abortion (a chosen procedure) are two very different issues, even if the same woman supported both.

Colon, a "Pink House Defender" (the clinic is hot pink), said that Planned Parenthood and Jackson Women's Health Organization are not only unaffiliated—they're competitors. Planned Parenthood does not contribute funds to JWHO because JWHO is an independent provider. "It's like McDonald's and Burger King," Colon said.

At one point during the press conference, the speaker began "my question is ...." But he was drowned out by Colon.

"My question is: What have you done for the black children of Jackson, Mississippi?" Colon shouted.

Rhodes offered a similar sentiment. "To be pro-life is not just about caring for the child in the womb—it's womb to tomb. So if we're supporting policies that will, in effect, hinder the prosperity and flourishing of the child out of the womb, that's not really a pro-life position," Rhodes said.

Still, Rhodes—the new father of twins—considers himself "pro-life," but he takes a "pastoral care" approach. He counsels women and couples to find resources to make abortion a last option, instead of focusing on the procedure itself.

"If we have a community, if we've got resources around that couple, around that mother in particular, that could assist her in bringing this child full term and then giving birth to this child, loving and nurturing this child, then let's look at those options first," Rhodes said.

A focus on education and health-care policies is essential to solving the root of the issue, he said. The fact is, black communities are having discussions about abortion, but "when the face of the conversation becomes Pastor Manning, it really cheapens it," Rhodes said. "Automatically, ears turn deaf."

Support our reporting -- Become a JFP VIP.

The news business has changed dramatically in the past year, and we need your help more than ever to keep bringing you important stories about Jackson and the Metro. Become a JFP VIP with an annual membership or you can Sign up as a monthly supporter. Thanks for anything you can do to empower our journalism!


sarahmina 6 years, 11 months ago

Unfortunately we STILL have the leftover mentality from years of the indoctrination of inferiority. Religion has always been used by the "system" to control the thought of Black people. Many, many Black ministers' indoctrination goes so deep that they don't do "ANYTHING" unless sanctioned by "Massa". These are "OLD" ministers who are probably so conditioned that they CAN'T even think for themselves. It is a SAD testament to the history of slavery & Jim Crow in this country.
Their arguments as stated in the article are pathetic and show a gross lack of understanding especially as it relates to the Black community. Fortunately, most Black people are a little more thoughtful than that. The entire history of Christianity/religion as taught by the "slave master" is filled with historical untruths and misconceptions. There is so very much of our history that has been hidden from us that we are JUST beginning to understand and to overcome ministers like these. Just as bad, however, are those ministers who should know better and DON'T STAND UP. KUDOS to C.J. Rhodes. a thoughtful and learned scholar who chooses his words carefully and thoughtfully. His disagreements with abortion are balanced and although I would differ with his pro-life stance, he is not a raving lunatic for the right. The fact that the conservative far right thinks that these ministers are going to sway anyone but a "few", in the African American community, shows just how out of touch and pathetic they are.

I would call upon the Black clergy, IF they are pro-life to take a stand of ACTION, by pooling their resources to help the hundreds of young Black women and men in their combined communities by creating educational alternatives - open your church doors in the evenings and on weekends to provide educational tutoring and counseling to at risk youth; create job outlets for training and career development; promote avenues for couples to adopt the children of at risk teens. The challenge is yours. Instead of criticizing behind closed doors, these old, set in their submissive ways, black ministers, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND FORWARD THINKING. All too often they are simply overseeing little fiefdoms which they control. Their egos are massive and prevent them from sharing to benefit the greater good. Churches still stand at the heart of the Black community but have abdicated their responsibilities TO the community by putting the building of larger and larger structures for their own and the minister's gratification and social status ahead of the growing and critical needs of the Community.


JacktownFeminist 6 years, 11 months ago

Rev. Rhodes if you are offering the women and families you council free choice without judgement for all their options and support no matter what they choose then that sir is">reproductive justice. Abortion is a "last resort" for most people. It means their birth control failed. They aren't ready to parent. They aren't in a position or are unwilling to gestate a pregnancy. They never wanted children and adoption is not an option. Yes for many women finances and support are a long term issue (which can not be solved with crisis pregnancy centers). So being able to look at that and provide help for those who want to parent is wonderful.

As a reproductive justice activist I want all people who want to and can parent to do so and those who aren't ready to have options to control their fertility ON THEIR TERMS.

OAN there has been an over all decline in birth rates yet black fertility rates have NOT declined. Where we have huge issues is maternal death rates and infant mortality. So for them to come here and act like abortion is detrimental to black lives is absurd. Lack of access to safe legal abortion kills black women. To say abortion is black genocide when we have trouble keeping black children fed, clothed, housed, educated, healthy, and simply ALIVE after birth is insulting to the BLACK MOTHERS who are raising them. We aren't committing genocide we're the backbone of the community!

comments powered by Disqus