Recently, a discussion came up regarding race in the church. As a predominantly white congregation, it’s easy to gloss over the topic. We talk about white privilege believing it applies to other people not us. I have a unique perspective because I’m biracial. Few people think of me as white but they don’t guess my ethnicity. I’m asked, “where are you from?” Me: “Pullman”. Them: “no, what country are you from?” Because I pronounce my name with the Arabic pronunciation, I’m frequently thought of as being Arabic. Other options include Italian, Native American or Hispanic. Rarely do people realize my heritage is African American. My father was black and my half-siblings are black.
When my brother moved to Washington State from Philadelphia, he went from a predominantly black community to a predominantly white community. I knew about the mild racism I experienced but was ignorant of the constant presence of normalized prejudice. When we looked for a place for him to live, I learned to let people know he was black or risk pushback when we went to visit. At the drug store, I watched a mom put her arm around her daughter and steer her away from my brother, watching him with alarm. When walking around Monroe, he shared the constant pressure of being an outsider.
Galatians 3:26-28 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
In Christ there is no prejudice but outside in our community it surrounds non-whites. Whether little slights or comments or more obvious forms of racism, we must be conscious of the reality for so many in our community or we will perpetuate behavior that tears us down and apart.