This fall, we have collaborated with Destino (Latino ministry), Nations (Native American ministry) and Impact (African American ministry) to write an article called, “Six Postures of Ethnic Minority Culture Towards Majority Culture.” We hope it provides language and categories to further discussion about these significant topics. We hope you take the time to read and discuss it with your teams, families, and churches or organizations.
You can find the article here, if you want to read in its entirety, or share it with others.
But to allow for easier reading and interaction, we have decided to break up the article into posts as well on this blog. We have posted a question that you can engage at the end of each post. No matter where you are on your journey, we hope you will feel inspired to share your own thoughts and stories here!
Posture # 1: Unaware
By Adrian & Jennifer Pei, Destino Kristy, Donnie & Renee Begay (with personal stories by Destino, Epic, Impact, and Nations staff)
The first posture we have observed is best described as Unaware. Some ethnic minorities have formed or found communities where they are surrounded by those of their own culture. As a result, they have rarely been in situations where others have seen them as different, or where they have felt like a minority; they feel “normal” because of what their context has defined as such. Thus, though they live and breathe their own culture, they may actually be quite unaware of the distinctiveness of their own ethnic background.
For others, perhaps they engage in multicultural contexts and relationships, but are unaware because differences are not thought about or discussed openly. Either of these contexts can encourage the misperception that culture is non-existent, or simply not important.
By God’s grace, we are all in different places on our journey of awareness, and none of us has “fully arrived.” Maybe you wonder why it’s even important for a person to explore their culture and ask questions, when they seem to be “fitting in” without any problems. Or maybe you are just beginning to understand the various family and cultural factors that have shaped you.
Regardless of where you are in your journey, consider what opportunities for growth and leadership lie ahead for you and others, that have been previously overlooked!
As ethnic minorities, if we choose to stay in mono-cultural environments that don’t engage the majority culture, we may spare ourselves the pains of marginalization, the confusion of feeling different, and the tension of “not fitting in.” However, in doing so we will miss the fullest vision of who God has created us to be. We are able to more fully grasp our unique identity, as we navigate the tension that comes from being with those different
Moreover, if we stay disengaged, we will hold back our unique values and stories from the body of Christ. There are new and rich pictures of your identity, family, history — and of God — that are waiting for you to learn and share!
If we choose to ignore cultural diversity and dynamics, we may also spare ourselves the discomfort and hard work of cross-cultural communication and partnership. However, in doing so we will miss redemptive opportunities that God is calling us to embrace. As ethnic minorities, we cannot wait for the majority culture to recognize differences or enter into our stories, before we engage them.
How might God be calling you to initiate, both within your own culture and with the majority culture, as you help others begin to see differences as opportunities to grow and learn?
“Growing up in Southern California, it was easy for me to find Asian American communities where I felt normal and at home. I attended a Chinese American church, but if you had closed your eyes, it would have been hard to know we worshipped any differently than others, since we never talked about culture. I noticed that both ethnic minorities and Caucasians were reluctant to talk about having a distinct culture. However, subconsciously they all gravitated towards those who were similar to them. Culture was important to them, but they didn’t know it. They didn’t know they were unaware, just like me.” – Jennifer Pei
For discussion (please post in the “Comments” below):
- How important is your culture to you? Describe where you are in your journey of cultural awareness.