Posts Tagged America
A few quick items from the last two weeks:
My buddy, Santo Garofalo, has successfully funded a recording project through kickstarter! Santo is the pastor of New City Fellowship in Atlantic City, and unlike most PCA pastors, he is also a face-melting shred guitarist. It’s encouraging to me to see a fellow cross-cultural, justice-minded brother get crowd-funded to produce a recording. I have songs to record, and I hope that it won’t be long before I can get a kickstarter campaign started for myself. Please pray that the Lord will make a way somehow for me to make another recording.
This commercial is good. America is hopefully a beautiful place to everyone who immigrates here from all over the world (and to those whose ancestry goes back to before English was ever spoken here.) As a music guy who leads some worship in non-English every weekend, I can relate to the joy expressed in this ad. I also recommend the interview clips with the ladies who sang the non-English portions for a little more context. As far as the racist and ethnocentric reactions to it, I say overcome evil with good, y’all. May justice and righteousness begin in the church.
Our Reconciliation and Justice Conference was a lot of fun, especially playing and working with other musicians from our sister churches. I’m looking forward to seeing how God is going to build stronger bonds with some of these fellows musicians in STL. Ronnie Perry stayed in our home during the conference. Ronnie is part of a cross-cultural church plant in Durham, NC called Christ Central Church. It was nice to hear about the work there and to get to know him better. If you are in Durham, you should check out their ministry.
Speaking of Durham, we are introducing a new (actually old) song by Durham’s native son, John P. Kee, this weekend called “I Do Worship.” This song is from a classic 1997 recording of The New Life Community Choir called “Strength”. Definitely check out this tune as well as “Lord, Help Me To Hold Out” and one of our church’s favorites “Clap Your Hands”. Jazz geeks: “I Do Worship” is like an etude for the iii-vi-ii-V progression. Here’s a link to where you can purchase sheet music.
This weekend, we had another church, Windsor Crossing, who we’ve been partnering with in ministry come to our facilities and basically take over for the whole Saturday to do a “Christmas Store”. The point of the store is to offer low-income folks in our church community an opportunity to purchase new toys for their kids at a reduced price.
I thought we could just plan to have our rehearsal in the youth room and everything would be fine. Everything did work fine for us, but there was a little awkwardness. As I pulled up to my church -where I am a member and on staff – I was met with a “can I help you?” from a few unfamiliar men directing traffic in my church’s parking lot. After parking, I passed by a bunch of unfamiliar folk, wearing name-tags and Christmas sweaters. They looked at me with an expression that communicated that I was not one of them, so I must be one of the “low-income” people. I must be a person in need. Emotionally, I felt very uncomfortable.
The next day, I was sharing my feelings with my friend, Darwin, who was also on the music team this weekend and shared my experience. Darwin, who is black, responded to my feelings by saying basically that I (a white person) got a little taste of what it’s like to have black skin in America.
Let me say at this point that I am very thankful for Windsor Crossing and all the volunteers that came out this weekend. They did an excellent job and I don’t think that there was anything wrong with how they interacted with me. Everything that I’m sharing with you was an internal experience that was an emotional (not very rational) experience. Feelings, not facts.
So what were those feelings? No one accosted me or anything really overt. For about 10 minutes, I just felt a sense of alienation in my own community. I felt like I was not one of the tribe. I was cheerfully welcomed but still an outsider. Perceived as a “shopper” at the store, I felt like the object of charity and not like a peer. (Again, I didn’t actually participate in the store, I’m just describing my feelings). It’s amazing how the phrase, “Can I help you?” is so offensive in certain circumstances.
So have you ever felt that way?
If you are black in the America, is this a true description of what can happen in stores, churches, or other institutions?
The innocent volunteers were unaware of what they were communicating to me; am I as unaware in my own interactions?
Is this an example of me just being hyper-sensitive? In a situation like this, I am the one at fault for reading too much into nonverbal cues?