Jan 2, 2012

The Gospel According To Deebo

Tom "Tiny" Lister, Jr. as Deebo

President of the United States, Professional Wrestler, Prison Inmate and Thug. If you look at Tiny Lister's resume, you'll find all of these characters included in an impressive list of roles dating back to 1984. Tiny Lister's Official Website boasts of an astounding 90 films in the span of about 20 years. You've seen Tiny in movies such as The Fifth Element, No Holds Barred and The Dark Knight. However, the character he is the most closely associated with is Deebo, the neighborhood bully from the 1995 movie, Friday.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of witnessing Tiny in a different kind of role...

In 2004, I was the Teen REACH Coordinator for the James Jordan Boys & Girls Club on the West Side of Chicago. One day, a co-worker was contacted by a non-profit organization and offered the Jordan Club an opportunity to host an "Anti-Drug / Anti-Violence Rally" in the gym. The rally promised to be an entertaining way to get the youth who attended the Boys & Girls Club to "take a stand against drugs & violence". The rally was to feature a crew of Hip Hop Dancers, a "Power Team" of Positive Strong Men, (former New York Mets baseball player) Darryl Strawberry and The actor who played "Deebo" in the movie "Friday".

But Can He Motivate?

You can't beat that with a bat... so we set up the gym for a huge assembly and invited all the club members and neighborhood kids between the ages of 5 & 12. On the day of the event, all of the kids in attendance were excited. They were going to get to see real live dancers and men who break cement blocks with their bare hands.

One of the benefits of attending the Jordan Club was the opportunity to participate in special events. Youth who attended the club had come to expect fun times with an abundance of interaction. This particular Boys & Girls Club was named after James Jordan, the late father of NBA Legend, Michael Jordan. The club was located two blocks away from the United Center, where Michael Jordan lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships in 8 years.

The Air meets The Hair - Michael Jordan and Kreighton Green

Although there was still an element of crime and drugs in the area, the climate had drastically changed into an up-and-coming neighborhood for urban professionals and their families.

According to the Chicago New Communities website:

The same neighborhood has been the first to deal effectively with large-scale urban renewal (think United Center); with the side-effects of transformed public housing (think Horner Homes and Rockwell Gardens); and with challenges from unemployed ex-offenders to spats over how fancy should be the stores coming back to West Madison.

The James Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Chicago Bulls Family Life Center

Well, someone forgot to tell Mr. Lister about the social and economic changes that had taken place in the neighborhood. As the featured motivational speaker, Tiny Lister used his imposing "Deebo" persona to warm up the crowd of 5-12 year olds and then progressively bullied them by treating them like new inmates at the Joliet Correctional Center.

The youth were told to "shut up" repeatedly - when there was hardly any noise in the gymnasium. Tiny threw out Million Dollar Quotes such as "that's what's wrong with you little black kids and you Mexican kids and white kids in the hood ... you don't listen" and "2PAC DIED... and you're gonna die too... if you don't listen".

Even if you ignored the fact that there is valid research that proves that scare tactics do NOT work in drug and violence prevention programs, trying to use the "scared straight" technique on a group of 5-12 year olds is in poor taste and bad judgment.

I sat and watched as he walked around our gym telling little kids to "shut up" while denying them the privilege of going to the bathroom (after sitting through an hour of performances). I was disturbed when he started ranting to the kids about the importance of buying property and owning land. I was shocked when he proclaimed himself to be a "GANGSTER FOR CHRIST". And then I almost pissed myself trying to hold in my laughter as he started to shout "I'M NOT THAT PUNK ASS FA@@OT FROM THE THIRD (Friday) MOVIE - I'M THE ONE... I'M THE ONE... I'M THE ONE!!!" Not only was I in attendance for this event, but I was able to capture Tiny Lister's speech on video tape.

This video has been on my You Tube site since 2007, but I've never taken the time to really describe what happened that day. In addition to everything I've just described about the so-called "Anti-Drug & Violence Rally", there are several other events that took place in the aftermath.

After his compelling speech, Tiny invited his friend Pastor Rob to the floor. Pastor Rob begins his speech by getting everyone to take a pledge against drugs and violence. Then, smack dab in the middle of the speech, he instructs the audience to raise their hands for another pledge. It seems that Pastor Rob has the goal to save as many of these wasted souls as possible, so he attempts to get all of the children in attendance to accept Jesus Christ as their own personal savior. Suddenly, the Anti-Drug and Violence Rally, became an old school Ghetto Revival.

I could only imagine this scenario taking place at the home of one of our Muslim club members:

Mother: Abdallah, what do you do at the Boys & Girls Club today?

Abdallah: I pledged to stay drug free and not to use violence to solve my problems!

Mother: That's nice dear! Eat your food before it gets cold.

Abdallah: I also accepted Jesus Christ as my own personal savior!

Mother: You did WHAT?

Abdallah: That's what's wrong with you... you don't listen. I'M NOT THE PUNK ASS FA@@OT FROM THE THIRD MOVIE!!! I'M THE ONE!!!

Dramatization - Don't Make This Face At Home!

Okay, maybe it wouldn't quite go down as that, but I'm sure that the topic came up at the dinner tables of the club members in attendance.

After the mass conversion to Christianity by Captain Save-A-Bro, my supervisor thought it would be in the best interest of everyone to end the event prematurely. I think the straw that broke the camel's back was when Tiny Lister himself confronted her about taking kids to the bathroom. I was told that he began yelling at her and she shut the whole "rally" down. I'm not even sure if she was aware that Pastor Rob had just saved all 250 kids in the gym. I have heard various stories of Deebo trying to continue the sermon in the parking lot... and crying (yes, actual tears) for anyone who would not be saved that day.

I would like to point out that I'm not against religion. However, I am against anyone who imposes their beliefs on others who are not yet capable of forming their own system of values. If I had children and someone at their after-school program made them pray to The People's Temple and drink some of Jim Jones cyanide laced Flavor-Aid, I would be pissed.

If any lesson is to be learned from The Gospel According To Deebo, please remember these three things...

  • Little black, mexican and white kids in the hood lose their focus without guidance from Deebo.
  • If you get up and go to the bathroom while Deebo talks, you lose your blessing.
  • Deebo 3:16 says: God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Gangster For Christ, that whoever will shut up and believe in him shall not be that PUNK ASS FA@@OT FROM THE THIRD MOVIE! I'M THE ONE!!! I'M THE ONE!!! I'M THE ONE!!!



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