Monday, May 07, 2007

The Most Segregated Hour of the Week?

11:00 is the most segregated hour of the week. But is it now? My wife and I received a gift certificate from one of those trendy bistro type places located in one of Philly’s up and coming neighborhoods. You know the kind of place where new two bedroom condos start at about $400,000.00 (and that’s not Monopoly money baby). It’s one of those neighborhoods that boasts its own Starbucks, several art galleries and the usual smattering of local pubs and brand name shops. It’s certainly the kind of neighborhood that would attract one of those cool po-mo churches with the quirky name (something like ‘The Underground Warehouse’).

Anyway Sharon and I were enjoying some much needed husband and wifey time when we both noticed how few people of color there were among the hundreds of folks milling about the area and dozens in our eatery. That’s not to say that this area is racist (we were greeted warmly and received excellent service) or that black folks aren’t welcome. But as I sat there I had to wonder why we weren’t in a more integrated setting. The area had a mostly young and presumably open minded and liberal crowd. (you know the kind that would be the first to tell you of how many black friends they had) It’s fairly close to a number of mainly black areas, is quite walkable and has all the right stores. Yet aside from us and about 3 or four other black families it was an all white setting.

Which brings me to the question again regarding self selected ethnic separation. As a society do we self separate along ethnic lines on purpose or unconsciously? Does it just shake out that way or do we in our heart of hearts simply prefer to be among our own? I ask this in light of the number of times I’ve been told that the millennial generation is much more integrated and much more comfortable with diversity than any previous generation. How can people who’ve grown up with such diversity and blast Jay-Z on their car stereos end up in exclusively white settings by their early 20’s? Do young black folks and other minorities truly value integration for the sake of integration or is it just part of the package of making it in the mainstream culture? Are we simply making nice at work and school, but when it comes down to really chillin the old adage ‘birds of a feather’ still holds sway?

My wife and I had a good time this though I couldn’t help but wonder if Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. has replaced Sunday morning at 11:00 o’clock as the most segregated hour of the week.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance


Jim said...

Thanks for joining the blogosphere! Hope to meet face to face this side of glory.



flickerfly said...

I came by here at the recommendation of my former prof and blogger, Pastor Redmond of A Man from Issachar.

As a white Christian raised in a very white environment, I was excited about going to Washington Bible College because of the opportunity to rub elbows with different cultures. WBC has a strong african american population that hovers around 1/2.

Having had that experience certainly gives me a stronger world view, and heaven view. I'm excited to see the people of the world unite in praise to our God in all our unique ways. Sadly having left College and entered full-time ministry, I find myself yet again surrounded by white folks, or more accurately, white culture. I miss the mixing of cultures.

I wonder if we all truly experienced it God's way, if we wouldn't more actively pursue the mixing of communities.

Graham said...

I'm excited to hear what you have to say in forthcoming posts. I'm eager to learn from the Reformed Black community.

To answer your question: As a young white father, having lived and taught in a public school in a black (except for my family), urban neighborhood, I'm convinced that we don't separate on ethnic lines, but on cultural ones. The lines look ethnic because the cultures often play out along ethnic lines, but culture is the binding force. Furthermore, the values of each culture are a potential threat to other cultures.

For example, last week I was walking down the street in a predominantly black (but gentrifying) neighborhood with my 3 year old daughter on my shoulders and pushing a nine-month old friend in a stroller. A large black man whom I had never met before walked straight up to me and yelled, "F--- you!" Clearly, not everyone is 'making nice.'

To answer your second question: The young black and minority folks that I know who value integration fall in one of two categories: (1) They've embraced the [white] culture of power in order to 'make it', or (2) They're Christians who realize that in the Gospel the culture of power is called to repentance just as much as the black street culture - and so the common ground is not mainstream culture, but the Gospel.

Keith L. Tolbert said...

Pastor Lewis, you left out All Saints Redeemer Church (Pastor Michael Leach) of you Kingdom Outposts. I'm sure it was just an overdsight.

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Keith L. Tolbert

Pastor Lance said...

hey all, thanks for checking in. Lord willing we'll be able to dialog in an encouraging way about the pertinent issues that affect the church and culture.

thanks for the greeting jim and keep checking in.

flickerfly, good question. i didn't start keeping mixed company until i left an all black church for a mainly white one. I also wonder if patterns of living factor into the equation. it seems that many neighborhoods are overwhelmingly one flavor or the other.

graham, good point concerning the issue of culture as it impacts ethnicity. and I'm sorry about what happened to you and your family that was uncalled for. hopefully the power of the gospel is transforming all of us in this area.

keith, good to have you check and I'll fix that oversight as soon as i can. btw please give Pastor Leach my greetings