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I recently attended the “#GodBox” lecture series hosted by rapper, David Banner. The lecture series serves as both lecture and promotion for his new album, “The God Box”. Through his lecture, Banner assumes the role of cultural prophet, where he looks to speak his version of truth into the lives of black men and women across the country. His message offers both encouragement and stifling critique. Though his message satisfied the mind’s longing to process information, it left the soul and heart thirsting for more.

Mississippi Pride
Before I offer my opinion of the event, I want to relate my respect for David Banner. As a kid from MS, you are always taught about famous Mississippians, but none of them were visible. When David Banner became famous, he made sure the entire world knew he was from Mississippi. I can remember watching his first mainstream music video with him wearing a Mississippi 601 jersey for the entire world to see.

In all of his appearances on BET or MTV, he always represented Mississippi. I never witnessed a black man carry so much pride and confidence in being from Mississippi. Witnessing this gave me confidence and pride in my state despite its brokenness. Still, to this day, I proudly proclaim I am from Mississippi because of his example.

GodBox Content
Throughout his lecture, David Banner presented thought provoking material, and accomplished his goal of inspiring people to think. His message contained Black Nationalistic ideology, which states black people control the political and economic pulse of their communities, rather than those outside the community and cultural context.

He taught on the importance of self-discovery and the transformation of the way we think and interact. He lamented with the audience over the injustices committed against the black community. He also encouraged unity amongst black people between religious, socioeconomic, and ideological lines. Banner raised numerous questions of why we, as black people, sometimes shun our people striving to better themselves. He made it known despite his zeal for promoting Mississippi, he has been treated like an outcast in his very own hometown. His message was engaging, and it was apparent he believed and experienced the things he disclosed to the audience.

Blacks, Whites, and Christ
If you combine Malcolm X’s speeches “The Ballot or the Bullet” and “The Message to Grassroots” you will have the summation of Banner’s lecture. It is Black Nationalism with a modern black conscious flavor. The major issues he addresses are not false, but it pushes people toward a slippery slope. It elevates a person’s ethnic group above the gospel. Being black becomes more important than following Christ.

Dissenters will scoff at this statement because to them, Christianity is a means by which white people control blacks. With this statement, they assume our white brothers and sisters were right in justifying Chattel slavery in North America with the bible. Without knowing it, they give the power back to those who have abused the bible, by acknowledging them as the keepers of American Christianity. They assume our white brothers and sisters were right in preaching under white, European depictions of Jesus, on Sunday mornings defending segregation.

Our “liberated” black brothers never acknowledge or fathom that our white brothers and sisters were wrong, and actually the Christian faith freed the captives instead of just controlling them. Our brothers and sisters elevated their white nationalism over the gospel, and it caused the oppression and suffering of black people in this country. Following this ideology could lead us down the same path.

Love Instead
I suggest we not do the same. Instead we should be renewed in our minds and hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, and be inspired to love despite a past of being hated. It was our Savior, whom hung on a cross, put there by his own people to take the punishment for our sins because he loved us. This does not mean we choose to do nothing but pray. Instead it means that when we do take action, we do so out of love.

It is out of love for our white brothers and sisters that we stand up for truth and remind them our lives and culture matter, and they should not continue to defame images of God by profiling, segregating themselves, and automatically opposing our ideas of self expression. It is out of love that we call to order our young black men to stop the violence against each other, and the destruction of our communities. It is out of love that I say to David Banner: “You are not feeding your audience ultimate truth, and providing them with what their souls are longing for.”

Absolute Truth
I left the event with an unsatisfied feeling in my soul. I left sad. Sad because people were excited about the message David Banner presented, even though it was not absolute truth. Only with absolute truth can we begin to start the process of healing and finding the solutions to our concerns. Banner did not provide them with what they came there searching for that night. Whether we were aware or not, we were there looking for Jesus.

If they attended with questions needing to be answered, hatred in their hearts, or looking for inspiration in regards to self-discovery, then they went to the wrong venue. Those things can be found in the message of the gospel. Our identity, legacy, and inspiration is tied to this because Jesus is the only one who can relate to the shame, oppression, and pain that many blacks have felt over the history of our country. It is not racial empowerment, hatred of another race, or a motivational “We have to do better speech.” Our answers rest in the perfect life and sacrificial death of Jesus. I pray David Banner sees this, and begins to point his followers to the right way, the ultimate truth, and everlasting life.

Tevin Brown is a 1st year law student who currently lives in Jackson, MS. He received his degree in African American Studies from the University of Mississippi. He hopes to meet all the light-skinned people in the world and let them know that he has their back. His dream job is to be a barber and cook hot wings at a bar. Follow him on twitter: @tevinjbrown91

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