Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chapter One- Shared Prayers, Mixed Blessings

     Chapter one did an excellent job of establishing the tone for the rest of the book. It addressed uncomfortable, yet interesting scenarios of living with the issue of race. It is something that we often shy away from discussing, because it is shrouded by so much tension. The reality is, that it is still a prominent conflict, whether we choose to honestly discuss it or not. Each of us has our own perceptions and experiences dealing with race. Everyone navigates their way through the topic in socially different ways. I admit, this book makes me anxious. Our discussions could get uncomfortable. It is important to remain conscious of the fact that our understanding of race is shaped by our individual relationship with it.
     As lives integrate, people will have to change their adaptive strategies. The first chapter shows us how people of a congregation make use of their opportunity to reexamine their preconceived judgments. There is a learning curve in sensitivity. Some boundaries are more difficult to penetrate than others. It demonstrates how fear of the unknown tends to perpetuate social segregation. I am very interested to hear how others connected with this chapter. I am a Southern Californian, and my perception of race was completely blown out of the water when I moved to a little town, in Randolph County. Though I am from an interracial family, I had not been aware of severe racial differences until I moved here. What is your interpretation of regional differences in racial conflicts?


  1. What an amazing experiment this chapter describes...a very traditional, very white, socially conservative Southern Protestant church becomes integrated over a few short years, forcing intimate and regular interactions between people whose understandings of race were all formed during the Jim Crow era. How many of us have the same level of deep and regular interactions with people of different races in our daily lives as the Pughs and the Birchs and the other church members described here? The author asks about the future of the Tabernacle church on the top of page 7..."Is the church simply enjoying a fleeting moment of integration on the way to becoming predominant;y black...?" What do you think?

  2. I think that true integration is possible but only if both sides let go of their distrust and misconceptions, and so far the congregation of Assembly of God Tabernacle are working toward racial harmony. Religious beliefs and styles of worship are, in my opinion, harder to change than how I see the person beside me in a pew.

  3. Chapter 1 is filled with examples of stereotyping both blacks and white. An excellent example is the joke made by the music minister which infers that whites have no rhythm and blacks are lazy with: if we could just get the whites to clap on time and the blacks to be on time. This is a concept I would have heard in the past. Is it still the same today?

  4. I think another important aspect that this chapter touches on a little is the difference in styles of worship. One older white man, Roy Densen, is said to have been so offended by the style of singing whenever the black soloists take the stage that he frequently leaves service in the middle of the singing. This to me exhibits a distinct cultural difference and one that could potentially contribute to some older generation whites to continue leaving the congregation. I think it's also important to realize that though this difference is distinctly racially biased, it can also be attributed to environmental differences. Growing up in a different environment, where you are exposed to different styles of worship, would predetermine how "different" you may potentially see someone else's style of worship. Someone who has grown up surrounded by a less traditional style of worship, may be more inclined than Roy Denson to view other styles of singing as normal whether they are white or black. Ultimately I think the integration of the church will only be successful if each group of people not only works beyond their racial differences but also their cultural differences to integrate and accept both styles of worship into the church.

    Since this article was written more than 10 years ago, it would be interesting to see how the congregation looks today.

  5. In regards to Kamisha's comment on how the congregation would look today, I still think it will take a lot more to fully integrate the white and black community of this church (probably more so because of issues from the white members). I remember in part of the chapter how many of the white church goers were so adamant on holding onto their stereotypes about black people, and only accepted a handful of black people ONLY if they were members of the church community. It was very much like saying "I like you because we go to the same church, but if you didn't I'd lump you in with all the other black people" (who they seemed to view negatively). Which goes without saying that the majority of these white church members are still holding onto a lot of prejudices and it would take a lot more than just getting to know people through their church community to break them from holding these stereotypes.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.