Sorry Whitey Martin Luther King Jr. DOES (did) like “Ethnic Music” (and so do I)

I’ve had two conversations with two very different white members of the UCC that disturbed me greatly. The first one happened at a planning meeting for my association’s Martin Luther King Day celebration. And the other was just in a one-on-one conversation. Both individuals expressed to me (and the group in the case of the meeting) that they were very distressed by our church gatherings because of the “ethnic people” and “their” music. The individual at the MLK planning meeting came to the conclusion that we shouldn’t hold the event at “one of the ethnic churches” because the ethnic music that these ethnic people liked so much would make the event go on for way too long. I’m not saying anything but I’m saying… wouldn’t you rather listen to some “ethnic music” than sit around talking in some boring committee meeting… Anyway the other person expressed similar feelings. The first time I heard this I was highly offended and I made my disgust known. The second time I remained quiet. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I’m tired…

Tired of what Dominique… tell ’em why you mad!

Ok I will! I’m tired of Barack Obama button wielding white liberals mindlessly spewing words like “diversity”, “multiculturalism”, “openness” and “welcome” while not having any desire to actually interact with real, live um…(clears her throat) “ethnic” people. In response to this I’m going to venture to say something radical: It’s ok if you don’t want us around. I don’t particularly enjoy everything about white church culture. But that’s not why I’m saying this. I’m saying this because I want to usher in an era of honesty. In honor of our first non-white president, I’m calling for a “word fast”. If you still see “the ethnics” as a “they” who makes “our” events take too long with “their music” then I am asking to not use the word “diverse” (multicultural or open) to describe your organization, event or so on.

And while we’re at it PLEASE take off that Obama button! Actually I lied, keep it on. You have a right to celebrate. What I want you to do is stop talking about wanting him to join your UCC church. I don’t say this because I don’t love the UCC. I just know how huge and difficult it would be for many of our churches if a black family of 4 joined our church. There may not be a cross burning (we need to get rid of the cross burning unit of measurement when it comes to racism by the way but we’ll get to that in another post). But their presence wouldn’t be free of the sort of fear that led to the comments about “ethnic music”.

Anyway back to the “ethnics: I need to say, in the name of Truth, don’t be on a planning committee for an event for Martin Luther King if you don’t like “ethnic music”! As we approach MLK day I’d like to put up a huge stop sign for all of the liberal/progressive whites who need to talk about King’s anti-war and anti- poverty work. These things are important to highlight. But I think it’s a way to avoid his desegregation work. And until this country has actually finished this work I will not trust the need to move past that part of King’s mission.

Yes I do turn into the “Mad Preacher” when we sit by and say: “In honor of King’s life and violent death, the Metro New York Association of the United Church of Christ (God is Still Speaking) will hold an event at an all white church void of “ethics” and “their music”.” Lord have mercy! This is not what is actually going to happen. But I wonder what led to those comments. Why can’t we be honest about the race? Why do we use progressive politics as pass or exemption for the white supremacy that dominates us, yes, even as a black man becomes president?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I’m pretty sure that Martin enjoyed the ethnic music… more specifically a “big boned” black woman singing Precious Lawd for like 7 hours… Don’t be skerrrd you might like it…

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