I read two excellent blog posts recently from Bryan Loritts: “What Carlton Banks, Ice Cube, and Denzel Washington Teach Us About Hiring,” and a follow-up, “Finding Denzel.” Loritts is an African-American and the lead pastor of Fellowship Memphis Church, a multicultural church ministering to the urban Memphis community. He will be one of the speakers at Advance 13.
Race, ethnicity, and culture—all of which Loritts addresses—are all issues that are very important, both for the American church at large, and for my church specifically. Below are just a few excerpts from those posts:
“Sociologist’s tell us that embedded within each ethnicity are various layers of culture. At one end of the culture spectrum are what we would label C1’s. These are individuals who while being of a specific ethnic minority have assimilated thoroughly into majority culture. Using my own ethnicity as an example (African-American), the image that should come to mind when thinking of C1 is Carlton Banks of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“On the other end are what we would label C3’s. These individuals have refused to assimilate in majority culture. These are your rage against “the man” minorities, who look down on C1’s, labeling them at times as being “sell outs,” or “Uncle Tom’s”. Sticking with our acting motif, just think Ice Cube. If ever you see a film that has Ice Cube starring in it you know it’s a black movie (in every bit of a C3 sense).”
“There’s one other cultural layer tucked away in every ethnicity: C2’s. These are your people who can navigate different ethnicities yet retain who they are in the process. These are unique individuals who have adapted well over time, to the point where they can genuinely relate to and enjoy the company of quite an eclectic crowd. Think Denzel Washington. In the past twenty years, Denzel’s roles have transcended ethnicity. Denzel would be just as comfortable hanging with Ice Cube as he would Carlton Banks.”
“I hesitate to say this, but oh well, let me just spit it out. Minorities have a leg up on our white brothers and sisters when it comes to being C2’s. Because America is still a racialized society (see Michael Emerson and Christian Smith’s Divided by Faith), minorities have to learn to “become” C2’s if we are going to be successful in a country dominated (from a power standpoint) by whites. We have to learn to speak your language, go to your schools and relate to you in meaningful ways if we want to truly eat some of the American pie.”
“The disheartening reality is that this is not a two way street. White people do not need to learn how to “become” when it comes to minorities to be successful. You can stay on your own side of the tracks, and huddle in your own nooks and be just fine without us. Yet the redemptive beauty is that not only do minorities have a leg up in their ability to become C2’s, but our white brothers and sisters can get there. It’s not going to happen by accident, though, you’ll have to be willing to take some dangerous and intentional steps to “become,” to get into our worlds, but it’s worth it.”