Today’s post is written by Jo Anne Taylor, Worship Pastor at Bethlehem Covenant Church, Minneapolis, MN.
It started off innocently enough. Someone mentioned enjoying a particular Christian artist’s latest CD, and wondered which tracks others might be using in their own worship contexts. After a dozen or so responses, an issue was raised that turned the discussion in a new direction. Describing the inclusion of a prominent hip-hop artist on one track of the recording, the commenter wrote: “This song, though catchy and well-written within its genre, is another example of a person in power representing a dominant culture unintentionally sending the message that the only way for outsiders to get respect and recognition from that dominant culture is to acquiesce to and subsume one’s self within it.”
Nearly - oops – Over a hundred comments later, covering a number of tangential topics, that early comment about the messages outsiders get from the dominant culture still convicts me, and I ponder the part I play in perpetuating a system that excludes more than it embraces.
Jelani Greenidge explains, “Because when it comes to Christian music, if you want into the upper echelon of recognition and stardom, people of color MUST learn to do the kind of music that White people appreciate, but White musicians are NOT required to do the same.” Jelani sees this as “blatant indication of the injustice inherent in the power structures that support Christian music, and it’s difficult for me to watch others support that success without also attacking the inequity of those structures. It is passive acquiescence of racism that allows it to continue to perpetuate.”
Some time ago, Jelani joined me on this blog to initiate a discussion about multicultural worship, and what that might look like. It was a polite exchange, and comments supported such a discussion – but they didn’t really engage in it. This past week, the discussion has gone deep, and I want to share a few anonymous excerpts to get you thinking about what it means to be part of the Body of Christ, to honor and celebrate the many cultures that contribute to our corporate worship, and what it means to stand up to a music industry that marginalizes many of our most talented brothers and sisters because they aren’t white, aren’t male, or aren’t younger than 35. Ponder these thoughts prayerfully. Consider the part you play in this unjust system, and also consider what you might do to become part of that system’s redemption. Because this is Kingdom work. Continue Reading »