Monday, April 19, 2010

Segregated

Having a child of a different color than myself has truly opened my eyes. And spending a week in Ethiopia taught me what it would be like to live where I was one of only a few of my own color. Both experiences have changed my lives.

I now see the looks we get walking through WalMart, little boy with chocolate brown skin calling me Momma. Or, I notice the stares of the fellow soccer parents as Lincoln wrestles with his brother in between games. People do stare. People don't hide the contempt on their faces sometimes. Simply put, we still live in a world where people judge immediately based upon skin color.

I am sure you have heard about the most segregated hours in America. Those most segregated hours are Sunday mornings. Shame on us. When I was in Ethiopia, I attended a church that blew me away. Sprinkled among the congregation were dark skinned Africans from southern Africa, light skinned Ethiopians, fair skinned Americans and Australians, dark haired men and women from the Philippines, and a pastor who was clearly from South Carolina! All together, all worshiping the one true God.

During the choir-led worship, I heard high pitched trills coming from the African women. I heard shouts of praise in languages I couldn't understand. There was dancing in the isle, clapping, and lots of smiles. And I thought, this is a taste of heaven. Multi-cultural, multi-raced, multi-generational all joining in praises despite language differences. Beautiful.

Back in America, though, we cluster off. We have black churches, white churches, Moravian churches (still not sure what that is, but there are several in my small country town). There are so many choices of churches..almost as many choices as the cereal box isle.

So, I had coffee with a woman last week. She goes to a black church. I go to a white church. She is black - in fact, she is a liberal Democrat and former State Senator representing Milwaukee! And I am white, conservative Republican. We talked about how we could partner with each other by fostering children. Her church has an amazing program where the church has answered the foster care issue in our city. Her problem? No foster families, but lots of families in need. Yet, her church is working hard to minister to these families in need. Privately, she has been praying for years that my church would hear the call of these families who need help.

But, I have been working in central city Milwaukee for many years and I know one thing...we need to build community and relationships, not just volunteer for one day and then pat ourselves on the back. We don't help when we do that. If we partner with this church, we need to commit. We need to be ok with living with a black child, facing the stares and the dirty looks in our all white community. We need to learn how to care for hair and skin that is different than ours. But more than that, we need to face our deep seeded racism that was born generations before us. Sometimes, that is very painful.

It is time! Imagine two churches, one black, one white coming together several times a year to celebrate how children have been protected and loved. Imagine a black mom hugging a white foster mom and thanking her for loving her child while she got back on her feet. Imagine the message that would send to the world around us!

Right now, Christians send the message that we segregate on Sunday morning - you go there and I'll go here. Do you think the world would sit up and take notice if we changed that?

1 comment:

milreb said...

Oh Traci, I pray that is possible. I have a few goosebumps on the back of my neck thinking about it. May God bless this beautiful vision!