Sunday is still the most segregated day of the week…
One of the local pastors at Broad Street Ministry (BSM), who’s white (here in Philadelphia), told me she had POC lead announcements or do “spoken word” – and, I pushed for having POC preach the sermon and she said, “we only bring in educated folk” – this is a great ministry but, she’s so far not returned my texts and also attempting to plant a church here in Philly… This is the norm – BSM is one of the more progressive Churches here and one of their lead pastors is racist and, she doesn’t even know it…
(Edit: A colleague, and oddly enough, a former employee of BSM reached out to me and said that it’d be good to clarify, well, I’ll just paste his words verbatim: “Might be worth mentioning that back in the day BSM had a black woman pastor.” But, he went on to say, they’ve obviously moved away from away from that…)
A church called Circle Of Hope – I recently asked why there are not more POC speakers and the Pastor (Rachel Sensenig) further segregated the service (emails available for Circle’s attorney’s – as the church has already threatened to come at me) designating POC at a later service… I have text messages from a pastor (Jonny Rashid) exiling me from Circle of Hope, during this time – turns out he did the same thing to others just in regard to them being “homosexuals”.
(And, neither of these two Churches did I want to preach at – my goal was simply for POC to be humanized and given equal platform as the white pastors – it’s Philadelphia I believe it’s 44.1 percent black, 35.8 percent white, 13.6 percent Latino and 7.2 percent Asian… As, “David Elesh, a Temple University urban sociologist, said that of the almost 60,000 Philadelphia residents who reported being born in China, many lived in South Philadelphia.”So, it’s not like it’s tough to find POC – in other words, you have to INTENTIONALLY make sure a vast majority of POC don’t even want to step foot inside your church.)
Ask yourself when was the last time your church brought in more than 5 people of color preach at our main service? And, playing bass or drums on the worship team, doing announcements, or greeting people at the door do not count as preaching.
If we’re being honest and true to ourselves, most of us could count, on one hand, the amount of times in which a person of a different color preached at our church, in the last year (not to mention, how many of those people of a different color are the same people of a different color every year?).
But, Be Careful not to Tokenize…
“Tokenism is the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of racial or sexual equality within a workforce. The effort of including a token employee to a workforce is usually intended to create the impression of social inclusiveness and diversity (racial, religious, sexual, etc.) in order to deflect accusations of discrimination.“Because, of course, there are exceptions to this rule; of course, your church has brought in POC speakers onoccasionn; of course out of the few thousand people reading this one of us has gone to that one church in our region that’s on point!
(Side note: I’d say name that church so we can all attend or support it! While, at the same time, it’s going to be extremely disheartening when zero churches are named in the comment section below)
But, we’re talking about the vast majority here…
Just look at the leading podcasts and megachurches; look at their conferences the speaker list; it’s as if we’ve so far normalized overt racism that we’ve become terrifyingly comfortable with participating in these institutions.
I’ve reached out to those types of “Homebrewed podcasts,” I was blocked by Rachel Held Evans (honestly a misunderstanding), I’ve asked to preach at these Churches or speak at Wild Goose (although, Admittedly – I think Wild Goose is doing GREAT at this; they have improvements but, we all do)…
Nonetheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus was right:
“31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,
“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” 
A POC who’s gone to Princeton, graduated from Bible College, and has insane amounts of recommendations can’t even break into the ranks of Progressive circles… So, how could a darker skinned person be expected to make a living as a theologian unless they literally hit the lottery? Even then, it’d be doubtful.
Case in Point: Try and desegregate your church that claims to be not-racist… and, by de-segregate, I mean, treat equally those of outside skin color… If you’re an elder, suggest to the board that you collectively read James Cone’s entry-level book on Liberation Theology…
“It was a crisis under enslavement. It was a crisis in abolition. It was a crisis under Jim Crow. It was a crisis for the Chinese workers in the 19th century, and it was a crisis for Native American peoples…”
– Jeannine Hill Fletcher, Ph.D., professor of theology
You see my point here?
Like, now do you understand why you’ll find religious leaders both today and during the civil rights movements saying, “I can’t afford to trust most white Christians…”?
Do you recognize that entire movements have been built based on the fact that white supremacy is a core principle of western Christianity, today?
“But theologians have always had the ability to lend symbolic capital to ideas. These ideas can create conditions [that]have real-life effects.”
Challenge: Email Broad Street Ministries and let me know what they say – post a comment below; email any one of the androcentric progressive podcasts and ask them why there’s not more POC let alone women brought on? Add in a bit about tokenization… again, leave the results in the comments.