More On the Importance of Proximity in Race

This one will be short folks. I’m just realizing how important it has been to my integrity to join a Black church. Before, when people would say racist things, I would combat it by relying on books I had read and I would respond from my head. Now, when people say things from a conservative background, – not even a racist background per se, – I can stand firm and embody a posture of humility and wisdom (“ideally”) and contradict their words at a much deeper level.

People also don’t bother me now with these hypothetical arguments about what if structural racism doesn’t exist. It doesn’t seem debatable now that I’m getting this new energy. Something is changing in how I interact.

I also think my posture has become less entitled and confident and more wise. I am more tolerant because I hear from a radically different lived experience from my own on a bi-weekly basis (once for Bible study and once for the Sunday sermon).

It’s also different from just visiting a Black church. Actually saying that my pastor is my pastor, and knowing that he is a Black man, in itself is really healing. It shows a different level of respect than I have previously afforded a leader of color in my life. I am entrusting my spiritual life to the care and nurture of fellow Christians who are Black (and Brown, and there are also fellow whites there).

Now, if you decide to do something similar, please know that when white people show up in diverse churches or spaces, we often have a lot of opinions about what could be done differently. One of my friends, she is a minister and I just listened to her preach, said that white people in her university have said that maybe white people should be helping churches of color “do” church. One of my friends who pastored a Korean church said that white people were coming up with all of these suggestions after church services when they were thinking about joining. In multi-racial gatherings, we white people often like to be the center of attention and also think that our suggestions are very valuable and needed. Indeed, that the organization will fail without our “expert” opinion. Listen: we are not that important. And so if you show up, show up to be led, and to be collaborative, maybe. But be ready to follow.

Published by Seahurst Wellness and Education Center

I’m a skill-building, proficiency-obsessed tutor and consultant who puts relationships first. I am also a certificated teacher with over a decade of classroom experience. Everything I do is geared to facilitate students’ familial and scholarly wellness and their sense of meaningful contribution to society..

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