Not All Angels Are White

Black angelA friend of mine from Cuba gave me a small figurine of a dark-skinned angel playing a pan flute.  “Not all angels are white,” she reminded me.

Although 78% of the U.S. population is white according to the United States Census as of 2011, remember that as of 2012, non-white births outnumbered white births.  Even if you live in a predominantly white neighborhood somewhere in the United States, this is changing.  Not all neighbors will be white.

For my 50th birthday, HH gave me one of those DNA cheek swab kits that can tell you all about your mitochondrial heritage.  I was sure that I had some Middle Eastern blood in me considering how much I felt at home in that part of the world.  But the truth is that I couldn’t be whiter.  My people came from Northern Europe.  We are a pale people.

HH and I relished the fact that our children grew up in the DC area among kids from everywhere. They were minority students in their high school.  And yet “white” is the default skin color for most of us – Zadie Smith being a notable exception.

A couple of things I’ve learned recently:

  • Many of my clergywomen of color friends have no illusions that they will ever serve a congregation that is comprised of brothers and sisters of their own race.  African American clergywomen friends have found that African American congregations do not want to interview them much less call them.  Same with some of my Asian American clergywomen friends.  They might be Korean and raised in predominantly Korean congregations, but those same Korean congregations will not hire them.
  • Multicultural congregations long to call multicultural church staffs but we do not have enough pastors of color to fill those positions.
  • All of us need multicultural sensitivity training.  We will still be racists, but at least we will be enlightened racists.
  • 11 am on Sunday mornings is still the most segregated hour of the week, but it’s not quite as segregated as it used to be in many spiritual communities.

What’s going on in your congregation in terms of multicultural relationships?  What do you hope might happen in terms of connecting with people who don’t look like we look?

Image found on Pinterest.

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