their lives to intense training to entertain us at the expense of their careers, and instead dumb down the opportunities to just reality shows. I certainly think that there’s a market for it. But I think that we are not monolithic and there needs to be a wide range of expression within our community so we don’t become narrowly defined by one perspective of who we are. Since we are defined by what other people see on television, it is extremely important that we show them the vast array of what it means to be an African-American, and not just one perspective.
EBONY: When you see different scandals in the media that occur within the church, do you ever feel as though it discredits your work and what you do for your community?
TDJ: Ultimately, I don’t. I think everybody has to build their own brand and define themselves in the community. It’s always unfortunate when people have more failures, but people are people, and we all have failures. It’s no different being clergy then it is within media, in Congress, politics, or even the White House. We will always have scandals wherever there are people. Thankfully we don’t come to worship people, we come to worship God. The more people are God-centered and less human-centered, the more effective the church will be.
EBONY: What would you define as the most crucial issue that faces the Black community?
TDJ: Well, there are two. The first is the deterioration of the family. It doesn’t have to be a perfect or picturesque family, but some support group that you can go home to and feel safe. We’ve lost big mama, Madea and those people who spoke wisdom into our lives. Our women are working two and three jobs trying to make ends meet. The men that are working in the family are often weary by the storms they’re facing outside the house, and also storms in the house. We have got to get the family thing back.
The reason I couldn’t narrow down on one issue is because, equally as dangerous is education. If you don’t have the education, you are exempt from opportunities like never before. When I grew up, in my generation you could get a good job working in the coal fields in West Virginia or the steel mills in Pittsburgh. You could get in the industrial and make a good living and live happily ever after.
Now technology has moved along to the point that, with the Information Age, if you don’t have education, you are exempt from major opportunities. Hopelessness leads to crime, leads to self-hatred, leads to self-loathing, because people are in a pit they can’t get out of. Education is important, and family is important. If we can build those two things back, we have fists to fight with to be able to move our generation towards the American Dream that we all believe in and want to participate in.
Kimberly N. Wilson is a NYC-based lifestyle/entertainment writer and digital strategist. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and completed her juris doctor from Howard University School of Law. Follow her on Twitter @kimberlynatasha.