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Sherman Jaquess, Oklahoma Pastor Ousted For Wearing Blackface

Source: Nicholas Klein / Getty

We’re not even a month out from Halloween yet and already we have a blackface story to kick off the season. Of course, this event took place on a different holiday, Valentine’s Day, when, in 2017, Sherman Jaquess, a pastor at the Matoaka Baptist Church of Ochelata in Oklahoma, entertained his congregation by dipping his face in black paint and wearing an afro wig in an ultra-classified attempt to imitate Ray Charles.

According to the Associated Press, Sherman Jaquess defended his blackface performance by saying people were only bringing it up because he has spoken out against drag shows in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In other words, costumed drag performers are a weapon of the Devil but a white man parading himself around dressed like white people’s weird caricaturized perception of what Black people look like is perfectly fine.

“If it had been done in a derogatory or hateful manner, that would be one thing, but the church was full of people. Nobody took it as a racial slur,” Jaquess said.

OK, first of all, who TF is this supposed to be?

Ray who? Not Charles. Not Brother Ray. Not The Genius. Not the man who kept Georgia on his mind and a good woman way over town. When Ray Charles sang “You Don’t Know Me” he must have talking about this photo.

Look, just because the man was blind doesn’t make it OK for a blind racist to commemorate him with blind racism.

And what is it with white people thinking literal black paint is appropriate to imitate Black skin? Not to say that brown paint is any less racist because it still constitutes blackface, but are we really to believe Jaquess wasn’t intending to be “derogatory” when deciding that the generic version of Black skin is pitch-black shoe polish? When has Ray Charles ever looked like this? When did he sport an impossibly curly Afro? If Jaquess was to walk into a random room and ask people to guess who he’s supposed to be, who’s going to guess Ray Charles before Sambo Ronald McDonald or Bozo the Reconstruction Era Clown?

Sherman Jaquess also defended himself by asking, “How can you portray Ray Charles if you’re not a Black man?” Well, first, your little grown-up Chucky doll dipped in tar costume does not remotely resemble a Black man. Secondly, “Black man” isn’t a costume. Third, Black kids have been dressing up like white characters for Halloween for generations and you don’t see them covering their faces in mayonnaise in order to portray Superman.

By the way, since Jaquess apparently has such a big problem with drag, he should probably explain why he also appeared at an event dressed as an indigenous woman.

Once again, Jaquess tried to excuse his racist cosplay by claiming he’s part Cherokee, which is basically white people’s anti-indigenous version of, “I have a Black friend, so I get to say it.”

Anyway, as a result of his behavior, Jaquess and his church were ousted by the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, according to AP. On Tuesday, the Executive Committee of the convention voted that the church “be deemed not in friendly cooperation with the convention,” which is the official terminology for an expulsion. Jaquess said he might try to appeal the decision.

From AP:

He said the denomination reached out a few months ago about how they would send a packet “where I would have to prove I wasn’t a racist.” Jaquess said he never received anything until Friday when notice of the pending vote and his lack of cooperation arrived. He said he called but couldn’t reach anyone.

His church, he said, may appeal the ouster to the SBC’s full annual meeting next year, as is its right.

Now, “I don’t know if I want to be a part of a denomination that would make a judgment about you without even talking to you,” said Jaquess, who said he committed his life to ministry in Southern Baptist churches. “The only thing I see that they do well is cash my check.”

Nah, man, if you’re still wearing blackface and impersonating “Indians” in 2023, it’s you who needs to answer for your judgment.

White people, stop this mess.


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