Monday, May 14, 2018

Ways We Make Minorities Invisible

I've had a good response to my previous post, 'No Room At The Inn' So I'll write more, trying to answer questions I've been sent. For now, here's some ways that we sadly make minorities visible yet invisible:

1. Photography:
We (conservative evangelicals in the UK) have a tendency of taking photos that suggest we have diversity in groups, whilst not at the same time allowing minorities to have influence. We make them visible in our photos, but in terms of influence, invisible.

2. Name dropping:
We mention the four black people, or council estate church plants we have, in a way that suggests we are diverse. But we don't let the same mentioned people have influence on how we do things. We make them visible in conversation, but invisible in policy making and planning.

3. Type Casting:
We ask a white working class pastor to speak on reaching the working classes, or the Indian pastor to speak on reaching Hindus. But we don't ask them to preach on Justification by Faith, or teach on Exegesis. We make them visible on stage for practical ministry tips, but invisible for contributing to doctrine.

4. Ignoring:
In meetings, we show deferential treatment to the majority culture boys, whilst often ignoring or downplaying the views of the minorities. Sometimes its even cringeworthy hearing majority culture leaders say how understanding they are of minorities, when you've been sitting there for an hour feeling talked down to. We are almost visible in terms of having a seat, but its a kiddie seat, we're invisible in terms of being considered an equal.

5. Training:
We recruit minorities on our training options, whilst not catering to the issues they are facing. When minorities speak up, they are often corrected and put in their place. On paper, the diversity is more visible, but in class, the student feels invisible as their community is ignored. Furthermore, the faculty is usually all white. Then, when minorities start their own training programs, we rarely support and promote these, making those programs invisible.

6. Poster-boying:
This ones a play on words for those who know what 'you're boying me' means. We poster-boy when we write articles about minorities in a way that demonstrates our patronage. This makes the minority visible, but its intended to make the patron even more visible. I've personally not had a problem with being a poster-boy at times, because I hope it will make council estate ministry more visible. But sadly, organisations that do this, often do not give their poster boys a seat at the table in terms of influence. We are used to recruit, but not to influence, thus invisible again.

I've now accidentally hit post instead of save, so here it is!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

No Room at the Inn for Minorities in UK Conservative Evangelicalism

After trying to build bridges for a decade I sadly conclude that, There is space for black faces, and working class accents, but it's a tight space that produces Conformity, Invisibility & Stagnation. There may be some exceptions, but in general this is what myself and my friends have experienced:

Invisibility
Church groups sometimes give a minority a certain role where they appear visible on Sunday's and in photos, whilst not being given a proper voice to influence - thus invisible whilst visible.

Conformity
The minorities that manage to stay a long time within the group tend to have learned how to hold their tongue a lot. How much they are promoted and encouraged in ministry often depends on how much they have conformed to the cultural norms. The result, being that the majority culture is perpetuated whilst seemingly being validated with a small number of minority faces.

Stagnation
I think it may be that Cons Evanagelicalism has felt for a long time that it has arrived. So when minorities try to join, they are expected to continue in the same way as the higher-ups. There is already a perfected DNA that needs to be injected into the minorities that come on board. Some of this is explicit, some implicit. Some leaders will be aware of the explicit stuff, and even make public comments about how they need to change, whilst being unaware of so much implicit stuff. We end up with a movement that is far behind the multicultural state of our country. We end up with praxis that misses out too many issues people are dealing with. We end up with blindspots that never get exposed, sins that are never confessed and repented of.

For those discouraged at experiencing these things, I'd like to encourage you that you're free, and don't belong to the majority culture (1 Cor 9:19), and one day, it won't be like this, God's end game will succeed (Rev 7:9)!

UPDATE: Due to the large response this post received, here is a follow up
Ways we Make Minorities Invisible