Guest Post: Hypocrisy in Black Communities: The Fani Willis Case

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by State Representative Mesha Mainor. It originally appeared on the Georgia House of Representatives Media Services website. Representative Mainor represents the citizens of District 56, which includes portions of Fulton County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2020 and currently serves on the Education, Governmental Affairs, Regulated Industries and State Planning & Community Affairs committees.

Hypocrisy—what is that? Well, the Britannica Dictionary says hypocrisy is a behavior. The behavior occurs when people do things that they tell others not to do. The second definition is still a behavior. But, it is the behavior of a person doing something they do not agree with, believe or feel. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

As a Black woman, a common aphorism used in my family is, “call a spade a spade.” Albeit, the saying isn’t universal amongst all Black people and certainly not associated with any Black political group like the Black Panthers, it is still a context of culture in Black communities, like the expression, “girl, bye.”  

The context of Blackness is being questioned. Many of us are acting black-ish. We’re pretending Black communities are not in dire need of people representing them for the sake of service versus a title. Fani Willis did an interview and “dogged” former District Attorney Paul Howard for alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace. She said it was unacceptable to have sex with a subordinate, and she said the people of Fulton County deserved better.

So, women, including myself, across the state became appalled at the allegations against Paul Howard and decided to support a woman district attorney instead. After all, sexual misconduct, or the appearance of it, is intolerable, especially in a high-stakes criminal justice environment. Yet, here we are, and here is another reason to have the Prosecutor Oversight Commission.

Hypocrisy fell in the lap of Black communities. My friends in Christ like to say that God has a sense of humor. This is a classic “what are we going to do now” moment. Since the Fulton County evidentiary hearing for the Donald Trump election case, people have dismissed Willis’ “personal relationship” as racial bias, gender bias or sexual discrimination. Otherwise, we would be hypocrites since we supported the Me Too movement and ousted Paul Howard.

Just four years ago, in an election year, similar to today, the Black community chose to demoralize a Black man Paul Howard and take a stand against sexual misconduct towards Black women. But now, Black people want to abstain from the truth and not “call it like it is.” Instead, the public outcry is: “She’s a grown woman,” or “These white lawyers are trying to harass a Black woman.” 

The one that really gets me is, “Did you see how all those white attorneys were talking down to her?” It’s court! These lawyers are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend their clients, zealously. If you’ve ever been in a courtroom, you will quickly notice that attorneys are not baking cakes or quilting; they are “zealously” defending a position. When prosecutors yelled at YSL Rico defendants, the public didn’t cry, “The prosecutors are talking down to Young Thug!” This is not about race or gender. It is showcasing hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy in Black communities from elected leaders is beyond unacceptable and costly to those who need someone to fight for them. For the sake of “keeping it real,” this is dangerous. Reality does not permit “letting things slide” when people have mouths to feed. We must stop protecting leaders that have given us nothing to “take to the bank.”

Instead, we let them take it to the pulpit like an episode in Saints & Sinners, miscalculating how their actions are negatively impacting two other Black women, Mrs. Nathan Wade and her daughter. It is disappointing to see Black churches praise sexual misconduct in the workplace and prioritize hypocrisy over God’s word. Listening to parishioners chant “amen,” during Fani’s sermons is political pulpit pimping at best. God is watching His church idolize the Democratic Party as its new savior, worshipping the elected and choosing blasphemy over God’s call for repentance.

Whether from the pulpit or the court, the sacred oath taken by prosecutors is more than a person swearing that they will uphold the laws of the state and protect its citizens. It is the citizens’ trust in a system to hold people accountable, including the district attorneys they elect.

People expect and are entitled to representation. Every step a district attorney takes should be for the people’s benefit and the people’s best interest, not their own. Fani Willis admitted under oath to a “personal relationship” with a subordinate that she paid using tax-payer dollars without an RFP process—something that she said she would never do in an interview. It is hypocrisy to say, “She made a mistake… so what?” 

If Black people will not demand justice, equity and equality from their local Black elected leaders who aren’t willing to “stand on business,” how do you justify demanding it from people outside of your home? 

I expect my opinion will bother some, and others will applaud. If hypocrisy is only relevant when it’s convenient, well then, that’s hypocritical in itself. If hypocrisy is always relevant, you put personal political ideation aside, “call a spade a spade,” and will chalk this entire Fani Willis debacle into another record in the history books for sexual misconduct in the workplace.

For example, the circumstances surrounding Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall, found liable for sexual misconduct and stalking her former chief of staff was never prosecuted by Fani Willis. Fulton County was ordered to pay her former male chief of staff and my constituent nearly $1 million in damages. Fulton County taxpayers are paying nearly $1 million because a Black woman in power chose to have sex with a subordinate that she was paying with taxpayer dollars.

If a male county commissioner stalked his female chief of staff and placed tracking devices in her car, there would be a public outcry from women. To date, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has not brought any criminal charges against the female Fulton County commissioner for stalking a man. In other words, justice is an idea, not a reality, in Black communities, and it’s not because of a white person. 

Until the Black community demands and holds many of its Black leaders accountable, Democrats will continue to have Black people on a merry-go-round believing Republicans are their worst enemy. Whereas, the Black community’s worst enemy is hypocrisy. 

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