My first memory of Kirk Franklin is from back in 1997. His single “Stomp” was huge upon its release and it was something my whole family gravitated to. I can remember being at my family reunion in Atlanta and my entire crew was having a ball screaming the song on the bus—even at nine years old, I understood Kirk Franklin’s appeal. His image wasn’t traditional. He came to shake up old school gospel, and dispel the notion that “holy” music couldn’t have a secular vibe. Still, he was a man God.
Last week we all got a real dose of what it’s like getting on the bad side that man. Kirk Franklin’s oldest son Kerrion leaked a conversation that the two had that went left, far left. Their discussion turned combative and was laced with expletives and aggressive energy. By Franklin’s own admission, he and Kerrion have historically had a challenging relationship. As far as I have seen, Franklin has never denied his shortcomings as a young father. But leave it to social media to take a moment like this and run with it.
We can turn damn near anything into a good time, and within no time we were already saying Franklin was showing his Plies side. Being the prominent figure that Franklin is in gospel and entertainment, he saw it fit to address his remarks to his son and apologized publicly for the language that he used. The outburst prompted a polarizing conversation to take place among us, the spectators. Was Kirk Franklin wrong? Should a man in his position wrong to address his thirty-three year old son in that fashion? My instinctive answer is no.
Something really has to strike a nerve with most men for them to go off the way Franklin did. We also have to remember that before we are any of our titles or accolades, we are human first. Franklin is a grown ass man, first. His son is a year older than me, he too, a grown ass man. Sometimes you respond viscerally and without filter. I’m not saying that mistreatment is deserved, but in that moment of contention, that aggressive dynamic is at play. That’s just the reality of interaction.
Too many times we get caught up with religious figures being the picture of purity. The older that I get, it’s glaring to me that there is no real picture of purity except the highest being or energy that you believe in. Anything below that is liable to disappoint us. People in Kirk Franklin’s position, or your pastors, or rabbis etc. to me serve as a consciousness for their people. They are in positions to encourage you, and remind you of the tenets of your faith of choice. Should they exhibit the best in their respective religions? Absolutely. Can they realistically always do that? No.
Now of course, everything within reason, there’s levels to everything. Franklin has repeatedly stated that he in no way has physically harmed his sone and that they have been to family therapy consistently through the years. So, I’m not saying that Franklin isn’t accountable for his actions, I’m just not mad at him. When two grown men are in a disagreement, and there’s history, it’s not always going to sound sanctified.
I appreciate the fact that we all got to see this. We need reminders that even people we herald with such esteem have the propensity to make a misstep. I don’t think we can have enough reality checks. We relate best with things that are tangible. We want to know that other people can relate to our triggers, our fears, our peeves, our joys. We want to know that saved and savior-like isn’t the same.
As far as Franklin’s apology goes, I think for a man in his position it was necessary to atone a bit. He’s positioned himself as a role model. And that apology— its honesty, anger, hurt, frustration, ego and humility—is probably one of the realest man moments we’ve seen in a minute. Yes, you can have a bad day, and do things in a less than flattering way, and you can also own your part in that. I thought it was on point and really, I just hope he and his son can mend their differences. But was he wrong? I just think he was human.
“What the people say?”
Kahlil is a writer, author, and content creator from Brooklyn, NY. He really thinks that you should be familiar with him by now, but if you aren’t, feel free to be. Follow his work on Instagram @Damnitpops and his thoughts and rants on Twitter @Damnpops