My vacation bible school teacher waved her arms wildly as she mimed the frustration of Moses coming down Mt. Sinai after receiving the Ten Commandments only to find that the Hebrew people had tired of waiting for him and made themselves a golden calf to worship; an idol. In a move that would make Charlton Heston proud, she pretended to slam the inscribed stone tablets down on the ground. Her message to us, the wide-eyed nine-year-olds totally enthralled by the story? Idols are bad. Anything exalted as a god but manufactured by human hands would prove unworthy of the title.
And yet, her lesson, as captivating as it was, went against everything we saw around us growing up as kids in America. Idolatry is truly the American way. When athletes or singers or our favorite movie stars reach the highest of heights in their respective fields, we don’t just make them role models — we exalt them, place them on impossible pedestals. We pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to wear their shoes, buy their clothing lines, or simply be in the same 30,000 sq. ft room with them. We tell them they can do no wrong. And if they are straight, white and male, they are often ensured immunity no matter the transgression.
So it’s no wonder that many in the African American community are losing their minds over the recently unveiled Ebony Magazine cover depicting a shattered image of the Huxtables from The Cosby Show.