Entertainment One’s gospel artist Jabari Johnson, who led worship at George Floyd’s official homegoing celebration this month, detailed what his experience was like and expressed his belief that the Church will come out of this stronger than ever.
"I want to see people come together, that's it," he told The Christian Post. "The Body of Christ is going to be so strong after this ... I can't wait to see it because there's going to be a whole new level of love, of respect for one another, no matter the race."
Johnson was shocked to learn that he’d be singing at the funeral of Floyd, who died in police custody and whose death ignited a movement against racial injustice. Johnson knew he had to lend his gifts to the greater cause.
The musician is currently the lead guitarist at The Potter’s House under the leadership of Bishop T.D. Jakes in Dallas, Texas, but he was invited back to his hometown of Houston to partake in Floyd’s homegoing service. His appearance coincided with the release of his new single, "Fixed Fight," which shares words of peace and comfort while reminding everyone that they will have victory in God.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with Johnson, where he also revealed how he’s taking care of his own mental health.
Christian Post: You recently led worship at the official homegoing celebration for George Floyd. Can you share about being there?
Johnson: I was out here in Dallas protesting and everything, we were out here trying to get justice for George Floyd. My friend, Terence Hoffer, called me and asked me if I wanted to play guitar for the funeral. At first, I didn't want to do it because I was like, "Man, that's going to take a toll on my mental health." But I was like, "I got to do it. I got to do it for George Floyd. We got to send him home the right way. He should still be here."
So I went there to play guitar. And I think we went through all the songs a little too fast while the family was walking in and then he looked over in the band pit and was like, "Man, we're about to do ‘He'll Welcome Me’ so I kept playing." I was like, I guess he's going to lead it and then he screamed [for me] to lead the song. Then we went into another song called "God is My Everything."
It was bittersweet. I really wish I didn't have to do that. I didn't want to be the guitarist for the funeral of a black man that was killed by a cop. Not only that we're still dealing with George Floyd, we're dealing with a Rayshard Brooks being killed in Atlanta by a cop. Then Breonna Taylor. And I just finished talking to my friend, Billy Dorsey, they found another young man hanging in Houston from a tree and I'm just like, "Man, what has this world come to?" It's like, "God, just come back now, please."
There's so much going on and it's heartbreaking. I actually had to take a few days, and I'm still doing it now, to just relax, just breathe because that being there, seeing him die on camera in front of the world with the cop’s knee on his neck, it broke my heart. I've never felt that way. I've seen Trayvon Martin. I've seen Sandra Bland killed. But this one really just hit me straight in the chest and I was just like, "Man, it hurt."
CP: We should all face the reality of what actually is happening but it's also important people protect their heart from hatred. How do you protect yourself and your mental health?
Johnson: Of course, I'm seeing therapists at the moment, just talking it out, just letting them know how I feel. I'm surrounding myself with my friends. I'm letting them know that I love them all the time. Every chance I get, I promise you we spent almost every day together and they married; I'm the only one in the group not married, but I'll be over there having fun, playing cards and stuff like that. Right now, I'm really getting to the point where I got to take a break from social media because every time I get on there, every single day, there's another black man that has been killed.
It's heartbreaking. It's very heartbreaking but I know we're going to get through this and we're going to come out with the victory, even though I don't seem like it right now, but time change is definitely coming.
CP: What was the atmosphere of Floyd’s funeral like? You led worship. How was it inviting the presence of God into a moment like that?
Johnson: Anytime I'm in a situation like that, two weeks prior to that I had to go to my first lady's — from my [Houston] home church, she passed away — I had to go to her funeral. I'm always in the mindset of, I want to give God the glory. At the same time I want to uplift the family because they're going through enough, they're sitting here, their family member is stretched across in the casket so I want to be here to uplift a family.
Being there at George Floyd's funeral, it was sad, it was very sad. The family, you can see it on their face, but everybody was just like, "We're sad but we want justice." You can see it in their faces, people were just standing up like, "We are going to get this done, this ends!” I told my best friend, "I'm proud of our generation because we not letting this stuff go."
CP: Talk about your new single "Fixed Fight," and the idea and belief of having victory in a situation like racism, that sometimes feels hopeless?
Johnson: I'm standing on the promises of God. I want everybody to do the same. He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. He said, "No weapon formed against us will prosper." That right there in itself is enough to let me know that this fight is fixed and that we're going to have the victory.
I wrote this song in July. I didn't know that writing the song in July, when I tore my Achilles, I didn't know that I'll be writing a song for a time such as this. We're dealing with COVID-19, we're dealing with racism, we're dealing with police brutality. Of course, people are losing their jobs, people are losing their loved ones and all this stuff. I promise you, that don't look like we're coming out with a victory, but I can guarantee you God is going to get the glory out of all of this. We're going to look back and say, "Man, that was a tough year but it was worth it. It was worth all the heartache and all the stuff that we had to go through. I hate that we had to lose some people during that time but we're about to come out with the victory.” It's a fixed fight and I want people to believe that and stand on the promises of God and this is going to happen.
CP: You attend the Potter's House led by Bishop T.D. Jakes. He’s been on several platforms speaking out against what's happening today. What's the atmosphere in the ministry right now?
Johnson: It's great being under a leader that's not afraid to take a stand for what's right. No matter what it is, I've seen Bishop Jakes take a stand for things that other pastors would just stray away from. So being there and just learning the Word of God from bishop, seeing how he operates in business and learning how to become a better man, it's a great experience. People think that playing guitar at the Potter's House is just the greatest thing in the world. It is. But I promise you, if you're just a member at the Potter's House, and you get to sit there and listen to bishop preach, he brings the Word of God to life. Every Sunday is like sitting there watching a movie.
CP: What do you want to see from the church and when it comes to racial injustice, equality and reconciliation?
Johnson: I want to see people come together, that's it. There's no big answer for that. I just want to see people come together and love each other. I see we have pastors trying to say stuff about the situation that we're in right now. And I'm just like, "If you don't know what to say, just be quiet. Don't say nothing at all, please." It's doing more harm than good. It's driving people away [rather than] bringing them together. If you get out there and not even stand with the black community, stand for what's right.
The Body of Christ is going to be so strong after this. I don't think people even understand the Body. It's going be so strong, stronger than ever, and I can't wait to see it because there's going to be a whole new level of love, of respect for one another, no matter the race, no matter if you're black, white, Hispanic, Asian, none of that matters. You are a human, just like I am, and I'm going to treat you with the same respect. I'm going to treat you with the respect that you deserve. That's what I want to see. I want to see people treated right, I want to see people come together, and that's what we're going to see in the Body of Christ when everybody comes back together.
CP: What do you think the church should be doing right now concerning racism?
Johnson: People deal with it in the workplace every day. You deal with it with banks. How do you not know that racism exists? I can tell you why. People don't do their homework. That's what I want to see. I want to see people actually take out the time and do their homework on how we feel and what we're going through.
You can't speak on a situation that you don't know nothing about. You can't say that you stand with all black people and say black lives matter but you don't know what we've been through. You don't know how we feel. They say we want a peaceful protest, Martin Luther King gave you that, they killed him. Malcolm X, he said, "Y'all want the smoke? I'ma give it to you." Look at what happened to him. I want to see people just do your homework and learn how we feel.
I thought this stuff was over with. I'm not going to lie to you. I never thought I would be living in a world right now where I could walk out my door and be killed by a white guy that don't even know me. All he sees is my skin. He says, "I'm going to take his life." Let's not even go as far as going outside. Because Breonna Taylor was asleep, killed in her own house. They were looking for some people that were already in jail. Then the young lady that was sitting there playing games with her nephew. Botham Jean, in his own house, eating ice cream, chillin, cop walks in, kills him because she thought he was at the wrong house.
They keep telling us to get over it. We're not going to get over it. Now we're going to show you exactly how we feel. People need to learn how we feel because if you don't, if you're not willing to learn, this generation they're going to show you.
CP: What should people do spiritually?
Johnson: We absolutely got to pray. I feel like we as a nation, we as people, we strayed away from God. We wake up every morning, don't give Him the time that He deserves. Don't even say thank you for waking me up. A lot of people don't even do that. The man that woke you up this morning, you can't even tell Him thank you. I'm not going to put that on everybody because I used to do that. I've gotten to the point where I wake up, and I do my devotion. And then I pray. I'm just like, "God, thank you."