*Note: This post is a response to a friend’s sincere question about how she needs to address her community in regards to the events in Charleston. She wanted to know more specifically how she should describe and talk about the Black Church when most of her friends worry that the Black Church is symbolic of how we continue to focus on things that separate us.
Shauntae Brown White responds:
The term “black” (HBCU, church, school) is usually in reference to the fact that we could not be a part of the mainstream institution at one time, so we started our own in response. We were not allowed to worship fully with with parishioners at white churches and so we founded our own. In 1787, Richard Allen and others founded one of the first black denominations, the African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia in response to racism faced by the church was was made up of white congregants. The black church is really the only institution that is autonomously run by black folks–the leadership, the decision, etc.
Black institutions have not only survived and thrived with very little resources. Simply, historically, we did not have the same access to wealth, resources and were treated unfairly in state budgets (i.e. colleges), and yet, we have been able to produce some pretty remarkable people who have done remarkable things. I can spend a whole post on that. read more