The Struggle: The Assimilation into a Predominately White Church
Growing up black, church was the staple of the neighborhood. It was where community happened. It was where the elders were celebrated, and the youth were organized. If you needed hope because your power was about to be cut off, you went to the church. If the police had just arrested your son, and you needed comfort, the church was there. If you child had succeeded in school, the church rewarded your child. Everyone was intermingled. Everything was interconnected. There was nothing held back. When we wanted to praise the Lord, we shouted what we were praising the Lord for whether it was freedom from drugs, freedom from alcoholism , or even from financial strain. There was no such thing as “hush-hush”, when the Lord deserved to be praised, we praised Him. We danced. We Shouted. We ran. We screamed. We sung song after song with no time limit. When we came to the altar,we came in tears and shakes. NO ONE would tell us to be quiet, because everyone was too busy saying “hallelujah “. “Politically correct” was a foreign policy to us. We had enough politics to follow in the neighborhoods we lived in. The church was our turf where no body could tell us what to do. It was the one place where your race didn’t play a part in how people saw you. You could be and was considered human. Peace and Justice existed simultaneously without it being a forced conversation. Church was second home to the poor in spirit and a first home to the homeless. Yes, we dressed up in snazzy purple suits and JCPenney dresses, but underneath those clothes people came as they were- broken and in need of something greater.
Sadly, even with this great demonstration of community, it was not within the walls of a predominately black church where I received the gospel. I was within the framework of a predominately white ministry when I become a Christian, and ultimately fell in love with Christ. Sadly, in the ministry where I became a Christian I was almost immediately taught that to gain Christ meant to leave my African American church culture. Suddenly there was a right way to worship. Leaving your seat was a big “No-no”, and so was sharing your heart. Real problems suddenly did not have real answers . Opening up about real struggles was like unlocking Pandora’s box. Everything was neat and contained and pre planned down to the last second and there was no room for---praise, for dance, for shouting, and the problems of community were no longer brought to the altar but shut out at the front door. Suddenly socio-economic status , political status , and racial status was a thing. There were no more snazzy purple suits because they longer matched the congregation. Church was like a puzzle perfectly put together and no longer messy. It was like acting and there was this competition on who could play the best part.
You see , social injustice , my darlings whom I love , isn’t always blatant. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as the case of George Floyd. It’s easy to scream and march and to black out Facebook profiles when a man is murdered, but it’s a lot harder to change a system that you feel absolutely comfortable. with. It’s a lot harder to speak up , when you live in a system that predominately lifts and supports you. The truth is we PROMOTE social and racial injustice in the church, because to not do so would jeopardize your livelihood and familiarity and so far it’s been decided that the sacrifice is not worth it.