There are many things unique to a childhood in Metro Atlanta. We rep the hospitals that ushered us into this world and argue over what, exactly, is considered Atlanta. Our celebrities are fodder for rants and gossip. ATLiens go on about who we saw walking through Lenox or who stopped by our jobs. There are some names that always elicit a reaction.
Eddie Long, head pastor of New Birth, was one of those people. I’ve always said everyone in Chicago seems to have an R.Kelly story. Long, in so many ways, did the same for Atlanta. His church was often compared to a cult because of the fervency of his congregation.
It wasn’t uncommon for people to see him out with a few young men in tow clad in a shirt two sizes too small for him. Ironically, he was openly homophobic and decided to march through the streets of the A with Bernice King to remind us of such. Then, the scandal happened. Everyone repeated the stories. Writers pounced with think pieces. Long gave a fiery sermon, telling his congregants “I’ve been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man, but this thing, I’m going to fight.”
He ultimately ended up settling, like so many other before him.
The media and public got bored and moved to the next story.
Then pictures of an emaciated Long surfaced.
Kim Burrell opened her big ole mouth.
And now he’s dead and his legacy is up for debate.
New Birth members are acting like President Obama died. My sister told me a customer came into her job sobbing. I’ve seen several eulogies on Facebook. If anyone dares to critique him, they’re drowned out by people yelling “think of his family!”
People who would have criticized him last week are mum out of supposed respect. Even I haven’t said much because, as I said on Facebook, I don’t want to dance on anyone’s grave.
I’ve had time to think and well, niggas die everyday, B.
Why should people, especially shitty ones, be granted sainthood in death? Eddie Long literally marched to Martin Luther King Jr.’s grave to protest me having rights. This dude was a sexual predator and embodied many of the things I hate about the Black church.
Why the hell should I respect him?
Everyone was jumping down Kim Burrell’s throat about her homophobia last week. If she dropped dead, would I have to hold my tongue about her too? If Trump died, would I be expected to give my condolences to Melania and the kids?
Sanitizing his legacy is yet another example of the Black community digging its heels in the Earth and refusing to budge for progress. Some may say now is not the time to talk about the ills of Long and the Black church at large. I say how long do we have to wait until we can really talk about it? It wasn’t handled when he was alive and the only accountability he received was via his check book. Now, he’s gone and we’re supposed to treat his legacy with kid gloves.
Meanwhile, New Birth will probably keep chugging along and the Black Church will continue to be a hot hateful mess but at least Eddie will be able to rest in peace, right?