2016 Pan African Film Festival: THE CHURCH HOUSE - Sexuality in the Black Church

  Review by Carla Renata for Carla Renata's Corner, UBNRadio.com and On Air With Tony Sweet

So, everybody talks about it.  It's whispered during the sermon amongst the church members in the pews.  Is the Minister of Music a little on the sweet side?  Why are all these women half naked sitting in the front pew lustfully staring at the pastor?  Why are all the female pastors?

Not until now, has the issues been discussed on such a grand scale as though the latest documentary form "Dark Girls" director - D. Channsin Berry in "The Church House -Sexuality in the Black Church"


At first glance, the audience at PAFF was all ready to have their jaws tight at the prospect of "homosexuality" being attacked or certain clergy being called out on their questionable behavior.  Instead, what we got was a very well-rounded and educational view of how Black people as a culture handle sexuality in the church.

“A young girl would get pregnant in church who sings in choir. Suddenly she’s pregnant. Now she can’t sing in choir,” says Pastor John Faison from West Grove Baptist in Nashville, more than halfway through the film. "Back in the day,” that same girl would come in front of the church and apologize to the whole congregation. “Now the deacon who got her pregnant was never brought up, nobody said anything,” Faison adds, in frustrated disbelief. “It’s the same thing today. It’s the exact same thing.”

I personally remember in my own family, girls being sent away for a "summer vacation" to have the baby.  When in reality, the baby would be born out-of-state and placed with another family member or put up for adoption away from the watchful eyes of the hometown congregation.

The same thing goes for homosexuality in the church.  Now, y'all know he was flaming like the last of the forest fires, but as long as he is being of "service" to the church it's not an issue.

Christ Community Temple - Church of God in Christ is where I spent most of my childhood evenings and Sundays.    All the pastors since the beginning of time have been know to always be male.  The same was true at my church.  The women were on the usher board, supported the men and prepared the basement dinners available after every service.  In other words, there did not speak unless spoken to.  Are women not interested in leading a flock or have they been suppressed by their male counterparts? I think it's safe to say the later may very well be true.  Just look at how women are treated when running for President...just saying.

We won't even get into pastors and their ongoing relationship with lustful opportunities in skirts.  D. Channsin Berry does it though and very effectively!!

Check out this trailer for THE CHURCH HOUSE and for up to date release info go to The Church House on Facebook





2016 Pan African Film Festival: Ota Benga: Human At The Zoo

  Review of Ota Benga:  Human At The Zoo for UBNRadio.com, Carla Renata's Corner and On Air With Tony Sweet

One of the really cool trivia items about my home town St. Louis, Missouri is that the 1904 World's Fair happened there.  It covered more than 1200 acres and was the largest fair of that era - more than twice the size of the 1693 Chicago World's Fair.  The St. Louis World's Fair is also at the forefront of the storyline for the famous Judy Garland flick "Meet Me In St. Louis" (which BTW is pronounced Saint Loous NOT Saint Looeeee).


Another fun fact about the fair is that St. Louis served as the during the St. Louis Olympic Games, George Coleman Poage, became the first African-American athlete to win medals in the modern Olympics.  He won bronze in the 200 and 400 meter hurdles.


However, it wasn't until the 2016 Pan African Film and Art Festival was my faced cracked about a little tidbit I had NEVER heard about - even as someone who grew up in St. Louis.

Apparently, American Indians, Filipinos, and other "primitives" from the Far East and South America were invited to participate as "living displays." They provided fairgoers with a rare, firsthand encounter with peoples from far-off lands.  Today, we understand that this is just outright, blatant racism.  However, at that time the Fair organizers believed that they were enlightening Exposition visitors.


Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy, lived a nightmare.

Brought to America by Samuel Phillips Verner, a former Presbyterian minister from South Carolina, who had—like so many white men at the turn of the century—left his calling to pursue fame and fortune in Africa. He achieved this by acquiring natives for display at human zoos.


How Verner met Benga is unclear, but we do know that he brought Benga into the country as part of a “native” exhibition at the 1904 Saint Louis World’s fair. After his appearance at the St. Louis fair, Benga was supposed to be returned to his home country, and he did travel with Verner back to the Belgian-controlled Congo.

Yet for unknown reasons, two years after Benga was displayed and kept in deplorable conditions in St. Louis, he returned with Verner to the United States. This time, Verner brought Benga to the Bronx Zoo where he was caged in the Monkey House, displayed with an orangutan, and labelled like every other animal in the zoo.

The next day, word was out. The headline in The New York Times read: “Bushman Shares a Cage With Bronx Park Apes.” Thousands went to the zoo that day to see the new attraction, but the end came quickly. Confronted with the protests of the Colored Baptist Ministers’ Conference,  the exhibit was suspended that Monday afternoon.


To the black ministers and their allies, the message of the exhibit was clear: The African was meant to be seen as falling somewhere on the evolutionary scale between the apes with which he was housed and the people in the overwhelmingly white crowds who found him so entertaining.  Verner and his colleagues tried to justify their actions by using the Darwin's Theory of Evolution explained in the book "The Origin of the Species".

“The person responsible for this exhibition,” said the Rev. R. S. MacArthur, a white man who was pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, “degrades himself as much as he does the African. Instead of making a beast of this little fellow, we should be putting him in school for the development of such powers as God gave him.”

However, kept in captivity for a month,  at age 32 years old in Lynchberg, VA, Benga took his own life and is buried in an unmarked grave to fend off opportunists who may have wanted to dig up the body for their own personal and financial gain.