Shallow Diversity Is Not Diversity At All

One of the things you learn when you hang out with religious professionals is that no matter the religious affiliation, denomination, or theological stripe of the religious professional, the same kinds of situations pop up in congregations. [yes, I’m talking about congregationally-based religious professionals, not community-based ones]

So….I talked to a friend of mine earlier today about something that happened at a retreat with their vestry/worship committee/worship associates to plot out their year. Things were going well until the group hit THAT Sunday. You know what Sunday if you really think about it. That’s right….things went well until they came up on MLK Jr. Sunday. Soon as my friend told me what Sunday, I had to take a deep breath because I have heard this same story multiple times.

“We need to find somebody black to preach on MLK Sunday.” Many vestrys/worship committees/worship associates have said the same thing.

Here’s the question: Why?

Why did part of this group feel that they HAD to have somebody of African descent be the guest speaker on that Sunday? Why not have a Black speaker on the third Sunday of April? Why MLK Sunday?

And for those of us who have a little more planning room when it comes to worship, why is the only time there is some diversity in the readings on special Sundays  [MLK, Pride, etc.]?

Shallow diversity is not diversity at all, my friends. It’s tokenism. And no member of a marginalized community wants to be a token.

To quote my friend who told me the age-old story today, “for those who think it might be a great idea to “find a black person to preach on MLK Sunday,” but never think to diversify their list of guest preachers otherwise, we pray.”

Lord, hear our prayer.

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