Aretha Franklin's Funeral: Primer & Predictions

A few years ago, the Public Religion Research Institute released data that “a full 75 percent of whites have “entirely white social networks without any minority presence.”  And while that merits discussion on it’s own terms, it may also lead to confusion and a great deal of questions with Mother Aretha’s funeral services.

Let’s be abundantly clear:  This is going to a very public and intense display of concentrated Blackness.  Seemingly, there will be no thought of packaging it or sanitizing it for broader consumption as our country loves Black culture but doesn’t seem to like Black people.  In short, this funeral will like the writers of Blackish writing a T.V. show about Black people vs. non-Black writers writing a T.V. show about Black people.

Then I realized that a significant portion of the viewing public may be a bit confused about certain aspects of Mother Aretha’s homegoing so I decided to cover a few of the basics and make some predictions.


While all networks will provide varying types of coverage of Ms. Franklin’s funeral, only the BET Networks will go from start to finish.  I suggest you set your DVR if you don’t have the time to watch the whole broadcast.

Q:  A homegoing?  What’s that?
A:  Just a nicer way of saying funeral.  The deceased is being sent home to be with God.  Hence, “Going Home.”

Reference material:  “Going Up Yonder

Q:  6 1/2 hours long?  Really?
A:  For a person of Ms. Franklin’s stature & in the great southern Baptist tradition, I seriously think that number is being generous.  Like the beauty salon on a Saturday, expect to stay in church all day.  And when I say all day, I mean all day.  There are no 45 minute start to finish services.  If you make it out in under 2 1/2 I’m thinking you’re doing pretty good.  If you have to ask that question, you’ve clearly never been to a “Seven Last Words” or “Watch Night Service” at a Black church.

Reference Material:  “Holy Week Easter Follies—Part 2

Q:  There are going to be a roster of internationally acclaimed singers AND a choir?
A:  My flippant response would be—Duh, Black people, but seriously Mother Aretha has already had wardrobe AND coffin changes over the past few days.  Would you honestly expect nothing less than powerhouse Pop, Soul AND Gospel megastars to be there along with the Aretha Franklin Celebration Singers?  The performances are going to be epic.

Reference Material:  (This is what they have to attempt to live up to) “Mary Don’t You Weep

Okay, that covers the basics.  Here are my predictions:

For the uninitiated you are about to witness some hardcore Black church services on steroids.  The British royal family would catch a case of the vapors with what’s about to happen.  Seriously ya’ll this is going to be a long one.  Pack a lunch.  Let’s look at the facts:
The speaker list—and they better not rush Ms. Cicely Tyson
-The performer list—Gospel and soul singers aren’t exactly known for their short, by the book performances
-It’s in Detroit
Black people

The upside, they’re about to have some church up at Greater Grace.  The downside I’m calling for a 7:30 EST end time.

Black people get dressed when they go to church.  Jeans?  Big Mama wishes you would try to walk into the vestibule much less the sanctuary in a pair of jeans.  Shit, when my mother was alive we couldn’t even wear pants to church. I predict you will see the following:
-Lots of hats
-Fans (despite the fact that the church has A/C)
-Spectacular outfits (some with gloves)
-And if we’re really lucky, an old school church mother with a hat AND glove combo

Whether the service runs long (trust me it will) or my predictions come to pass, this funeral is going to be the best and final show of Ms. Franklin’s storied career.

And I’m hear for all of it.

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