becoming a multiracial church, part 9
New Wineskins magazine featured this audio on Racial Reconciliation by Jerry Taylor, in a recent issue. Dr. Jerry Andrew Taylor ministers as a church planter and community organizer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is president of Emancipation Fellowship Ministries, Inc., a non-profit community development organization. The audio is available in Windows Media (.wav) and MP3 format.
The issue remains, it seems to me, how to make it happen, not just to raise awareness about it. I think there is fairly broad consensus that the church is for all people, and it’d be great to have a multiculturally diverse church. Granted, there is still a place and need to get more dialogue going, to increase understanding, to enjoy talking with people who are different, to grow new relationships and friendships, and all that is foundational, even for the non-foundationalists. Emergent (the conversation revolving around the church that is emerging) has launched a place on the web at www.emergentdiversity.com to start that conversational stream, and to coordinate a f2f event about it. Along the lines of : something is better than nothing.
As an aside, some very basic practical questions may still trip people up, like what do you call them? Latino or Hispanic? Asian or Chinese or Korean? Black or African American? Here’s one of my recent AIM excerpt [edited for legibility]:
djchuang: Should I be using Latino or Hispanic [to refer to the largest minority group in America]?
genxlatino: just use whatever the person you are speaking to uses
djchuang: ok, latino man! 🙂
Other finds on racial diversity; it even is an issue among academia >> Generous Orthodoxy posted Practicing Pentecost, linking to Anthony Smith’s paper Practicing Pentecost: Discovering the Kingdom of God Amidst Racial Fragmentation (pdf), excerpt:
Practicing Pentecost is about participating in the shalom of God that is producing local ekklesias that will embody a racial and cultural unity while also resisting death-dealing Powers in their profound rebellion of influencing ways of doing church that perpetuate racial divisions and hostilities that are ultimately an affront to God’s intent for a new creation that is to be found in Christ’s Body.
And, this awkward racism at an academic conference, described in this post: Power of words . noting two posts by Phil Sinitiere that set the stage for these thoughts: Accosting White Privilege, Interrogating Racism and Practicing Pentecost, and Accosting White Privilege, Interrogating Racism and Practicing Pentecost, Part 2; cf. Race and the Emerging Church.
At the end of Between Hauerwas and Constantine, cont’d, the author said Anthony has convinced him that racism needs to be a new and central issue Radical Orthodoxy agenda.
Q: What do you call the original inhabitants of North America in the racial discussion? A: Invisible. Funny how every discussion features latinos, asians, african americans, and never to rarely ndn’s (that’s native americans to you all) we may be a small part, but we consist of over 500 nations (in N. America alone) and in Central and South America they are totally overlooked with the emphasis solely on latinos.
your comment there on the basics really strikes me.
the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that we simply do not know enough about our shared “roots” and our the rich value of the culture that we belong to to know any better how to engage in a “multicultural/multiethnic” environment.
This is not something to be particularly ashamed of. In speaking with my fellow Katrina Flores, I am reminded that we’re catching up with centuries of cultural imperialism and violent globalism… and of course things will be awkward and we will be ignorant.
McLaren in framing the emerging as post-modern and post-colonial is definately on target though. We will find means of relating per our solidarity… in finding how the richness of our cultural experiences inform our experience of faith.
I definately feel you there.
we need to be conscious about the role of language in diversity issue discussions.
Race itself is a construction. in this country this lends itself towards viewing things within a black white binary in which the impression of the rest of those constituting the “racial” spectrum as vague and imprecise.
In such a way it is difficult for the Asian, the Latino the Native American groups to be able to feel that same “ownership” of personhood in this country.
But moreover it is irrespective of the richness of cultural origin that constitute a person’s background.
I have to confess my complicity with rendering of Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos ‘invisible’ in my presentation. It is something that I have recently repented of and am seeking greater understanding of their stories and sojourn in North America and globally. I do know the standard histories but I have to confess I have focused much of my energies on the black/white binary. I guess for two reasons:
1. I am black and most of my experiences racial dis-ordering has been within this black-white binary.
2. I have been over-determined by the Racial matrix so as to render invisible the sojourn of my brothers and sisters from different ethnic backgrounds.
If you could recommend some good reads and organizations that are raising these issues I would be most appreciative.
Many thanks for your comments and insight.
One more thing I wanted to say. I was heading out the door with my last post. But I wanted to give a more nuanced perspective on the black-white polarity. Oftentimes it does refer to the history and racial divisions between Euro-Americans and African-Americans.
But there is also the perspective which suggests that the black-white binary refers not to specific ethnicities or racial categories but to a continuum between those that occupy a place of privilege to those that remain in exclusion, margins or under some form of subjugation. For instance the white part of the binary refers to ‘white’ privilege which refers less to pigmentation or ethnicity as it does being a recipient of forms of social and psychological privilege (e.g. the Irish becoming white…see David Roediger on this). The black part of the binary refers to those, whatever their ethnic cultural back ground who were not deemed ‘white’ or without privilege.
I guess the issue can be about the actual description of this as black-white binary. Which I believe speaks more to the history of racialization which goes back to the Enlightenment and its justification of the Slave trade…and the subjugation of the Native Americans (by Hispanics no less) in the socalled New World. So I am with DJ…there needs to be this kind of discussion for often we miss each other. I look forward to discussing these issues with my brothers and sisters.
Dang…I forgot this issue as well. I think biblically the issue is not primarily the ethnic labels or racial categories we use but the way in which we relate to each other in church (for justice starts in the house of God) and in the broader society…the issue of power, presence or the lack thereof towards each other, and the various perspectives we employ to justify power/privlege and presence.
And how these ways of relating to each other or lack thereof is tied to a long history that still haunts us in the present.