By Rev. Tanya Edwards-Evans
Have you ever taken the time to understand the plight or the lifestyle of people of color?

It was out of a need for survival that blacks, native Americans, and those who are called Gypsies, and others, have mastered the art of assimilation and acculturation. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about, in the framework of our current climate of anti-racism, and in support of people who have different skin color.

As a child, there were no black dolls on the market. It was just Barbie and Ken. As I got older I learned that I was looked at as a black female who had to watch my tone of voice. I was asked if my children had the same father. I was looked at through the eyes of what the newspapers and television claimed about blacks from Mississippi; ignorant and barefooted.

As a young child, I was told that I had to be a size six, have straight hair, be seen but not heard, and be respectful to all. Even now, I am often viewed as female and black, but not as an educated woman, an elder in the UMC, or a woman who has a story to tell. This is part of the story for many people of color. We were treated as property and as three-fifths of a person. We worked for others without pay. But, we survived.

We created many consumer products, but could not get funding because of our skin color. We were considered unteachable. It was against the law to teach us to read and write. Yet, it’s interesting that most of the well-known libraries and universities exist on the continent of Africa. When we proved that we could be doctors, lawyers, and successful business people  in our communities, it was with the help of Affirmative Action legislation that we were able to enter the multi-cultural business world.

But even now, our story is not complete because we often are not thought of as natural-born Americans. We are still seen as inferior people even through the eyes of the faith community. We still often question when we will be seen as people created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27).

Blacks or African American, Gypsies, Native American, and other ethnic groups have become masters of assimilation and acculturation.

Have you taken the time to understand the plight or the lifestyle of people of color? What has the faith community done to encourage assimilation in the community and in the church? Are we trying to live within an acceptable identity rather than who we truly are? Where is our God identity?


is an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church - Peoria