Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching at a Wesleyan church on the eastern end of our wonderful state. I lived a good bit of my life in eastern North Carolina, so it always feels good to go back. For me, something happens at the spiritual level any time Raleigh's in my rear-view mirror. From there to the coast, it's nothing but Piggly Wiggly's and peanut fields. I'll admit, my affinity for eastern NC transcends my infamous weakness for Bojangles famous chicken n' biscuits. As is probably obvious by my chosen career path, I like black people. I'm drawn to them, and at the risk of glorifying my own preferences, I would like to believe that I am called to them.
Like any territory blessed with fertile farm land, eastern NC has a rich, and inevitably tainted history of sharecropping, an enterprise that earned the reputation of being a new and improved slavery for the twentieth century. Because of its important role in the era of sharecropping, the eastern half of my beloved homeland has made certain that it will, save for an act of God, always be two things: diverse and divided. Despite its inherent indignities, sharecropping was for many black folks the only viable option in a land still searching for its post-slavery identity. The small community that I preached in yesterday is 85% black. Respectable white folk want to know; where in the @#$% did all these black people come from?! They came from wherever their assistance was not required, or at least not desired. And they came here because working Mr. Johnson's back forty for minimal pay was their only means of feeding their family. Of course, diversity is not bad. What is bad, I believe, is the division amid the diversity. The lack of interaction is unfortunate, but the lack of friendships is tragic. Division of races is a catalyst to injustice and oppression. Here are some questions I'm still struggling with........ -If every street were integrated, wouldn't much of our diversity be lost? -How do you reach across racial lines without violating the culture that makes each race special? - Why does every race, and not just the white majority seem to favor division over unity?