BTSF in chronological order (most recent articles appear first):

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music (Part 3)

We conclude our interview with David Bailey, who recently released his new book/CD combo, Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music:

  • What are some practical first steps for congregations and worship leaders interested in moving in the direction of multicultural worship? 
The first thing they need to do is to take an inventory of who is in the congregation and who is in neighborhood or 15-minute drive of church. They should look at race, ethnicity, age, socio-economics, education, gender, religious backgrounds, etc. to get to know what cultures are in the church and are not in the church. Then they need to become students of the people and cultures. This will help people learn to understand the cultural language, so they can eventually speak and it or contextualize the Scriptural truths to that culture.

  • What comments do you get from congregations that are new to multicultural worship? How do we ease the transitions or address reticence? 
Everyone is not going to like everything, so there will always be complaints. This is why leadership is very important. Leaders have to lead in a congregation's transition from a mono-cultural community to a multi-cultural community.  Leaders can’t sway from the vision of being multicultural in worship when people start complaining. If leaders shepherd and lead people through the process and equip everyone with the necessary resources and understanding, then the congregation will come along. There will be less complaining and people will eventually enjoy it. I learned that from a really great pastor that I served with and I mentioned it in my book under the section “Mmmkay”

  • What is the balance between accessibility and authenticity? 
I will use the word “honor” to explain this. If you are in a relationship with someone that speaks a different language than you, then you endeavor to communicate in a way that is accessible to both. It doesn't even have to be a linguistic language. Men and women speak different languages! In any relationship if you value the relationship, you learn to honor the person in a way that is both accessible and authentic to both parties.It’s been my experience, that the people that are most concerned about authenticity are people that are in majority cultures. When one is in the minority culture, they have to learn how to adapt with authenticity in order to get access to the majority culture as a means of survival. When someone is a part of the majority culture, they often don’t have to consider adapting and their concern is more about authenticity. 

I do want to note that I carefully chose the phrase “majority culture” instead of “white people” because “white people” aren’t the only majority culture. The majority culture could be a culture that is shaped by age, race, Christian tradition practice, etc. It doesn't have to be exclusively based off of racial hierarchy in the American context. The point of the matter is that whether you are a part of majority culture or minority culture, if you’re a Christian, honoring your brother more than yourself should be your major concern. Nobody gets off the hook with this biblical requirement.

  • What is the difference between appreciation and appropriation when it comes to worship music? What considerations should be taken in this regard?
Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also”. There is a huge connection between appreciation, value, and money. If someone comes to me and tells me that they want to do multicultural worship and they don’t know how to, but they don’t want to spend any money at all, then I know they don’t value multicultural worship. Spending money doesn't solve all of your problem, but how you spend money will tell you what you value. I talk about this issue in my book. I've done multicultural worship in situations where I we had very little money and other places where we've had a lot of money! 

The first thing to consider is what are your values. Make sure you are spending money according to your values. I say this in my book also, but it’s important that you value people. Invest in the people in your worship ministry. Train them. It’s amazing to me that churches that have an expectation for the preacher to be trained, educated, and equipped for ministry. They’ll give pastors and ministry staff a budget for continuing education, but they don’t provide training for volunteer musicians and sound engineers.  The music and sound equipment in many churches have about the same amount face-time in a service. I give some guidelines in the book that will help leaders with this.

  • Lastly, where do you find new songs? How do you remain interconnected and exposed to new music?
I get a lot of stuff from my friends in the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network and the International Council of Ethnodoxologist. I also commission a lot of stuff and/or work with writers. I arrange a lot of stuff also. I like a lot of the content that is coming out of the neo-hymn movement and Sovereign Grace Music, but I have to arrange the music so it could be used in more diverse settings.

Check out David's website for more information about Arrabon. Thanks, David, for your great insights!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friday Fruit (9/28/12)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read about racial justice & Christianity from other folks, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music (Part 2)

We continue our interview with David Bailey, who recently released his new book/CD combo, Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music:

  • Tell us a little bit about your church, neighborhood, and ministry in Richmond, VA. 

Pastors of EEF
Well, I lead worship in two worshipping communities. I live in a neighborhood called Church Hill. This neighborhood is a majority black neighborhood and the poverty rate is ridiculous! It’s also a neighborhood is also going through gentrification, so the community is becoming more racially and economically diverse. About 12 years go or so, God started to bring a bunch of Christians into the neighborhood to live in the neighborhood and do Christian community development. The majority of those Christians were white. A black pastor by the name of Don Coleman was diligently serving in the neighborhood for 25 years or so and invited the Christians that moved into the neighborhood to participate in racial reconciliation and community development

Eventually this community grew into 100+ loving Jesus and caring for the community in incarnational ministry and missions. One day John Perkins came to Church Hill and saw what was going on and he told us that we should become a worshipping community. My wife and I were friends with all the people involved and we knew that many suburban middle class black families don’t choose to live in urban environments to be engaged in incarnational community development, so we decided to move into the neighborhood and be a part of what God was doing. The name of that church community is called East End Fellowship (EEF).
EEF's worship is in a renovated theater!

I also lead worship across town at a majority white affluent Baptist Church called Bon Air Baptist. I lead worship and give presentations at many conferences. About two years ago, I was leading worship at the Baptist World Congress in Honolulu, HI and met Travis Collins the pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church at this conference. He told me that multi-ethnicity was one of the intentional values the church was emphasizing and they were in need of a worship leader. He knew about my itinerant ministry and my involvement with my community and Church Hill, but he asked me to come and lead worship at the church. It’s been a great time leading worship and being a part of the community of Bon Air Baptist. They are great people that love Jesus.

The two communities are very different in many ways, but there are many similarities. Bon Air is a much an older-aged congregation and East End is a much younger-aged congregation. Bon Air has about 2000 members and East End has 200. Bon Air is in an affluent part of town and East End is in economically depressed part of town that is slowly coming back to life. Both congregations are neighborhood community churches that are serving their context. Both congregations are intentional about multi-ethnicity and racial reconciliation and see how hard it is. Every week when I’m in town, I’m endeavoring to practice what I preach at conferences in two congregations. It’s challenging, but fun.

  • How does your environment support your vision? 
I think because Richmond has such a wounded history along racial lines, the biblical vision of racial and ethnic unity is at the forefront of many Christians in Richmond. My ministry has been birthed and shaped in this city, so for me, my environment has done more than support my vision, my environment has helped me see this biblical vision in Scriptures and has given me opportunities to practice this biblical vision.

  • What are the struggles your congregations faces? 
We don’t know what we are doing! 

I guess since I’ve written a book, I’m an expert now, but although I do have close to 15 years of doing multicultural ministry, I’m still faced with problems that I don’t have a clue how to solve. There are not a lot of resources to help people with the details of being multicultural congregations. This is the reason why I wrote the Arrabon book and produced the Arrabon CD to help provide resources for people.
Although I’ve spent a lot of time studying multicultural ministry and I’ve spent years doing multicultural ministry, the things that I’ve written are my experiences and I haven’t experienced everything. Both at Bon Air and East End, we are constantly facing new things that make us scratch our heads. I’ve found that not knowing how to solve every problem we face is a good thing because it draws us to God for answers. I think one of the scariest places to be is to become an “expert” on God or worship. We can always be students that are learning and teachers that share what we’ve learned, but when we become
“experts” we become inflexible and harder for the Spirit to move us wherever he wants to move us.

  • What are some practical first steps for congregations and worship leaders interested in moving in this direction?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music (Part 1)

David Bailey is a great practitioner and leader of multicultural worship out of Richmond, VA. He has recently released his new book/CD combo, Arrabon: Learning Reconciliation through Community and Worship Music. BTSF had some questions for David, and we'll be sharing his answers with you over the next week:

  • Tell us a bit about the idea for book/cd. Why was this project important in this time?
Well for starters, the word, Arrabon means a foretaste of things to come. The word is could also be translated “earnest”, meaning I’ll put this down payment to represent something that is to come. The Church is in the world today as a representative of what God’s kingdom is like. We are to be a foretaste of what heaven will be like.

When the Apostle John saw a vision of heaven, he saw, “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (
Revelation 7:9-10)

When over 93% of churches are divided along racial lines, we are not representing heaven well at all.
At one time in our recent history (my parents generation), the division was intentional and generally racially motivated. I think today, much of the division is because of worship preferences. In the book, I make a case for why we should do songs of diverse cultures, not for reasons of preferences, but for spiritual formation, honor, and hospitality.

  • What is your vision for Arrabon in our congregations?
Biblically, a churches identity is tied to the geography, so the Church at Corinth looks different than the Church at Ephesus and the church at Laodicea looks different than the Church at Thessalonica. Each church we see in the New Testament Scriptures represented a foretaste of heaven, but yet they were unique because of their geography. I believe that our churches today should have a uniqueness because their geography. The more metropolitan cities will probably be more ethnically and racially diverse than the rural churches of the Midwest, but even the rural churches of the Midwest probably have socioeconomic divisions that are expressed culturally that they can work through.

I think one of the challenges with churches in our time face is learning how to be geography culturally unique because so many of the things that we do in church today are driven by the Christian music and media industry. Much of what people in church sing, teach in Vacation Bible Schools, and get sermon series from are the latest Christian media and music industry buzz

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not saying it is all a bad thing. There is a lot of quality resources from the Christian music and media industry that help ministry leaders equip their congregations, but the challenge is that many of these resources are targeted to the affluent mainstream, majority white or certain populations of black people. There are starting to be “some” resources for the Hispanic community, but it’s very little. People of other racial and ethnic demographics are not being targeted because the industry doesn't consider the market share big enough to make a significant profit from. For this reason, churches have to be creative and see what Arrabon looks like for their context. An Arrabon of worship should look different at every congregation. There should be a familiarity of the Father, Son, and Spirit, but a unique fresh expression from God’s people. 

  • What was the process for choosing songs?
I believe that congregations should sing songs that represent their theology and their culture, so when I was making song choices, I chose songs that where first, rich in theology. Secondly, I arrange songs that represented the various cultures that I’ve lead congregational worship for. Many of the songs on the CD are songs that I’ve used over the years in the various congregations and conferences that I’ve led worship.

  • How did you first become convinced of the importance of reconciliation and the role of music in it? What was that journey like?
I’m an African-American black musician that grew up in Richmond, VA, which was the formal capital of the Confederacy. Although Richmond has gone a long way in race relations, the residue of Slavery and Jim Crow is still very real. The racial division isn’t hostile, but it still shapes our city. Many of our churches are racially divided also.

My life has been like Forest Gump when it comes to racial reconciliation and music. I didn’t plan it, but the Lord has used me in ways to bring people together of various ethnicities, races, socio-economic classes, educational levels, and church traditions to use music as a tool reconciliation. 

Around the time I was 18 years old, I met a guy by the name of Bob Kauflin who is the author of Worship Matters the book and blog. He spent a period time mentoring me on how to write songs with rich theological content in a contemporary style of music. At the time, I was in a majority black inner city worshipping context, but I was taking these culturally white songs and theologians and contextualizing it for the inner-city context. The more I wrote and arranged songs this way, I began to lead worship for more multi-racial Christian communities. A few years later as I was finishing up college, I started to be the worship director for a multi-ethnic church plant and then that’s when I started to really do multi-ethnic worship. That’s an abbreviated version of my story.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fruit (09/21/12)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read about racial justice & Christianity from other folks, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Color of Christ: White Jesus?

Book cover: The Color of Christ (Black boy seated under a painting of white Jesus)What race was Jesus? How has our perception of His appearance changed over time? Edward J. Blume and Paul Harvey's new book The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America deals with such questions.

If asked, most people will acknowledge that Jesus was not the blue-eyed, wavy-haired man of Sunday School fame. Nevertheless, this imagery persists as the most common depiction of Jesus produced by media, and indeed, by churches.

White Jesus readily comes to mind in conversations, and presumably even in moments of prayer or worship. When shown several pictures of Jesus in a variety of ethnicities, Christians  "accepted the visual material intellectually, but not emotionally."(p. 251) Indeed "to imagine Jesus as other-than-white would demand a conscious process of unlearning." (p.15)

Google images return for 'Jesus' gives all white Jesuses
Jesus is white, because
Google knows everything. 
Often we contradict ourselves in the Church: "we have learned to insist with our denomination that Jesus indeed has no color, that the gospel is colorblind, and that God makes no distinction among people. Yet if we look closely, the Jesus we have embraced is too often a White Jesus." (p. 228)

Images are powerful, and take hold more readily than politically-correct rhetoric and diversity seminars. The authors observe that "civil rights, [and] cultural pluralism...led these whites to change verbally but not materially. The result was that the white Jesus and white privilege were denounced by everyone, but they remained as still-powerful material realities." (p. 250)

Why has this version of Jesus remained so prominent in our collective subconscious? Because "making Jesus visually, and marketing him through the land took time, capital, and freedom. Access to technology and social resources as never been equal and the inequalities have been a factor in what images of Jesus have been created and how they have obtained cultural authority." (p.17) Even those who have given up on white Christians have not always been able to yet relinquished the idea of a white Jesus.
Popular painting of white Jesus
He sure look white to me...

If Jesus is white is so many minds, how does the behavior of white folks taint the representation of Him? I'm not sure white folk should want Him associated with their actions. Indeed, from early on in American history, the contradiction has caused many to reject a God touted by such a cruel race.

Some have been able to accept Jesus, while not adopting his whiteness. There have been many movements to either de-color, or to re-color the Christ. Liberation theologists, among others, have produced Asian Jesus, Chicano Jesus, Yogi Jesus, Black Jesus, and scholars have used forensic archaeology to discern Jesus's 'true appearance.'

Jesus: white and dreamy
These depictions have met with significant resistance from a white community too quick to make God in their own image. One of John Henrik Clarke's stories depicts a boy who is severely reprimanded for painting a picture of a black Jesus, but the boy asserts he did so because Jesus "was so kind and forgiving, kinder than I have ever seen white people be." (p. 220) Almost 25 years later, the movie Dogma noted that "a black man can steal your stereo, but he can't be your savior." (p.274)

Today, the tradition continues. The authors observe that '"new movies and television shows rendered Jesus as white without proclaiming it or defending it. They allowed Americans to adore and cheer a savior in white skin as they professed to believe in a God that did not discriminate." (p. 255)

What are the consequences of the predominant perceptions of a white Jesus? Theologians have noted that "if we accept a White Jesus, if that is the image we see, we have also adopted an image of salvation, of health, wholeness, happiness, that also comes to us via a White culture and comes to us with a White value system." (p. 228) This imagery reinforces the 'white savior complex' and perpetuates the tenancy of white folk to view themselves as morally superior to other groups.

Diverse children....white Jesus
Blume and Harvey's scholarly look at the racialized history of the Christ provides an academic and historical perspective on Christian imagery. The book is deliberate as it marches through it's chronicle, but its best strengths are the many stories of individuals who have wrestled with the image of Jesus along the way. Through this lens, we understand that Christ has long been co-opted by those in power, in much the same way that He is used for political gain today.

One is left with a question of what to do with all of their well-researched information. Where do we go from here? And how does this history change our actions today? I suppose these sorts of questions are left to we as the readers to fully examine in our own lives.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday Fruit (09/14/12)

Media silence on the
disappearance of Amir Jennings
On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read about racial justice & Christianity from other folks, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Plea to Engage in Racial Reconciliation (Part 3)

This is the final part of Grace Biskie's series on racial reconciliation that origionally appeard on Rachel Held Evens's blog:

...(continued from part twoIf this vision doesn't excite you, I might ask if you’re working toward building God's Kingdom at all. 
I don't feel badly asking whites to engage on issues of racial reconciliation, because I'm asking you to be obedient. I'm asking you to play a deeper, fuller role in bringing about God's Kingdom. I'm asking you to follow me as I follow Jesus…right up to that cross. You don't need a Masters in urban planning or relocation into the heart of Detroit to have a shot at being a life-changing, Kingdom-building reconciler. Yes, those who have the power to change things systemically should. But the rest of us are regular Joes. If you find yourself paralyzed by lack of cataclysmic, life-altering options, take a deep breath. There are lots of ways
Here's one: How about starting by displacing yourself? Go somewhere where you are the only white person for miles. Attend a black church or go grocery shopping in an all black neighborhood. This one small step can work wonders. Displacement allows us to identify, understand, and walk in the shoes of something African-Americans face nearly everyday in America. Facing a little fear under the tush never killed anybody.
Read stuff. Two of my favorite books include Being White: Finding our Place in a Multi-Ethnic World by Paula Harris and Doug Schaupp, and More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice.
My relationships with whites have been beautiful and ugly and everything in between. The man who caused me the most pain, my white brother, was redeemed by my husband, a white man who has become my knight in shining armor in all things racially related. I have watched him read widely and be displaced time and time again in order for the gospel to move forward among black college students when no one else is willing to "go there." I’ve seen this journey cause him tremendous pain, but I’ve also seen it lead him to the greatest blessings of his life.

It's not just him, though. I’ve witnessed many other whites seek to understand and engage, when I know they could walk away. I have been flabbergasted by white colleagues within InterVarsity Christian Fellowship who have time and again sacrificed in little and gigantic ways to bring others to the table. I came to the Lord through InterVarsity as a college student; being a part of reconciling whites to blacks and blacks to whites is my heritage, my honor and my hope.
Trust me, I understand your desire to disengage, to worry about many other things in life. But I need you. The world needs you. African-Americans need you. And whether you like it, know it, accept it, or have yet to fully live it, you need African-Americans.
Tell me, have you ever been invited by an African-American Christian to think more deeply about these issues? What do you see as the major problems the Church needs to address regarding the division between African-American and white Christians? What are your joys and triumphs in pursuing racial reconciliation between white Americans and African-Americans?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friday Fruit (09/07/12)

On Fridays, BTSF offers links to other discussions about race & Christianity. It's an opportunity for you to read about racial justice & Christianity from other folks, and for me to give props to the shoulders on which I stand...

Weekly Round Up:

These are some of BTSF's links of interest this week. What are yours?

Feel free to contribute your own links in the comments section, or submit items you feel should be included during the week. Self-promotion is encouraged. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Plea to Engage in Racial Reconciliation (Part 2)

Grace Biskie, continues her series on racial reconciliation that origionally appeard on Rachel Held Evens's blog:

...(continued from part oneAs an American Christian trying to live in the tension, I am as screwed as it gets.

For all these reasons and more, I have been unable to disengage with the issues that plague black and white Christians in our country.* I've tried to disengage. Lord knows I've wanted to disengage. But I simply can't untangle myself from the racist web into which I was spun. And it's for these same reasons I feel terribly sad when I watch whites disengage.
To not know African-American history is to disengage.
To attend a large white church and never ask how the church got there or why it's staying that way is to disengage.
To never admit, let alone assess, your power and privilege as a white American is to disengage.
To not seek to understand why blacks were (and are) so angry about cases like Trayvon Martin's is disengage.
To decide to live in a mostly white community with no thought as to why it feels safer or mandatory for your family is to disengage.
To not read widely about racial and ethnic issues in our country is to disengage.
To allow yourself to be in places where everyone looks like you 90% of the time is to disengage.
To raise your kids to be color blind is to disengage.
I don't toss that list out lightly. Nor do I present it with judgment or condemnation. I am not looking to set you on a point-of-no-return guilt trip. None of that from me. Please consider this an invitation for you to love me, your neighborTo disengage is to fail to love.
I have been truly loved by many white people, most of whom I work with while serving in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. When I feel loved and cared for by a white person it's because they've done their homework and tried to understand my perspective. They know that they can read twenty books a day, but until they actually build a real relationship with someone who sees life differently, they are never going to get it right.
The hard days are the ones when I interact with whites that think they have the whole issue all figured out. They are quick to defend their white privileges and quick to point out their black friends. They make assumptions, and ask me to represent all blacks by answering that age old question, "what are black people so mad about?" That's not what engaging looks like. That’s what verbal self defense looks like.
The problem with disengaging is that it's not what God intended for us. I believe God expressly asks us to love people who are different than us. He especially desires for us to love those who would be considered our enemies. Take a look at Revelation 21; we know how this ends: We live in that not-yet-but-all-ready-here Kingdom, where God will bring together every tribe, every tongue and every nation, all of us speaking our own language, wearing our own cultural garb, eating our good cultural food. I'm talking about the day when Jesus' redemption brings total shalom to all peoples, complete peace between all people and God, all people to all people. In this partay of ALL partay's, the Hutu’s and Tutsi's will have a glorious celebration together. That final picture includes African-Americans and white Americans together…with no funky attitude problems.
No under-the-breath judgments.
No wealth gap.
No opportunities stolen.
No lynchings.
No death.
No gang wars.
No tears.
No blame game.
No race cards to be pulled.
No "shit black people think (white people think) about black people" YouTube memes.
If this vision excites you, know that your engagement in pursuing peace and health between African-American and white Americans is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he told us to pray like him: Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

If this vision doesn't excite you, I might ask if you’re working toward building God's Kingdom at all... 
*Note: I acknowledge there are many other racial and ethnic issues to be addressed by the Church regarding ethnic groups living in the U.S. However, I am primarily speaking to the issue I know and live while trying to respect the fact that only so many things can be discussed in one blog post. Please know I am not trying to ignore the issues that exist for our Asian-American, Latino-American, Native American, etc. brothers and sisters in Christ. I acknowledge that much more could be said on any number of issues. 

(Continue to the final installment...)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Plea to Engage in Racial Reconciliation (Part 1)

Please welcome guest blogger Grace Biskie, who serves with IVCF's Black Campus Ministries and blogs at Gabbing with Grace. Her post on racial reconciliation origionally appeard on Rachel Held Evens's blog

I grew up in a home where my older, white brother called me a "stupid little n****r" more times than I can count, and where I countered with "ignorant, loser honkey!" more times than I care to admit. My brother had grown up in an all white neighborhood until White Flight swept through in a little under two years. He was thrust into being the only white kid among black kids who stole his bike and beat him up. Outnumbered on the streets, he took it out on me at home.
I learned from blacks, at a very early age, that whites were manipulative, selfish, always out for "their damn selves" and NOT to be trusted. I learned from whites, at a very early age, that blacks were violent, stupid, unacceptable human beings who were less important than themselves and most of all, "not safe." I learned these things from my family, my church, my friends’ parents, and my private, Christian school. The racism was across the board. It came not only from the "poor folks of Detroit,” but from the Christians, the Muslims, the poor, the rich, the educated, even the homeless. It seemed like everyone had a bad opinion about white, blacks, or Arabs.
Eventually, the racism swirling around me became a part of what I believed to be true about the world: a few whites were great, most were tolerable, and the rest deplorable. These “truths” were seared into my brain like a brand on a baby cow. I'd been branded with racism.
Things came to a head for me on September 11, when I blamed the events of the day entirely on whites. The more whites talked, cried, formed prayer circles and sang Kumbaya, the more a war raged in my heart against them. It doesn't matter who flew the planes, they were provoked! By white people!
Then God began a slow and gentle process of healing that started with acknowledging the pain and devastation whites had caused in my life growing up. After many years of prayer, journaling, therapy and relationships, I was delivered from years of racism—my own and the racism of others against me. And yes, I came to see the events of 9-11 much differently.
But this is who I am: I am racially, culturally, spiritually, physically, ethnically black AND white. As an American Christian trying to live in the tension, I am as screwed as it gets. If there was a club for confused mixed kids, I’d be captain, head of the Department for the Racially Insane. For shits and giggles, God brought me a white husband. I'm a biracial woman who identifies as African-American. I grew up in Detroit, among urban, working-class blacks while my white mother sent me to a suburban, lily white, private Christian school and a large, white Baptist Church who denied me baptism in 1987 for being "half-black." Later that year, they passed a vote in which blacks were allowed baptism and therefore membership. The pastor who vehemently fought for me and other blacks to become members was maligned by his elder board and fired. Later, he committed suicide.  
For all these reasons and more, I have been unable to disengage with the racial issues that plague Christians in our country... (continue to part two)
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