“You don’t even act black.”

In United Trillia shares that, as a teen, she was often labeled as “acting white.” Because of her intonation and diction, and the fact that she did well at school, her blackness was called into question. Though she was the daughter of two black parents who were passionate about racial reconciliation, because she didn’t fit a certain stereotype, she often felt that she just didn’t fit in. 

Having not grown up in a predominately black American context, I am used to awkward comments and questions. That token black friend some people talk about? I was her. 

But, like Trillia, though at an earlier age, I came to know that my identity wasn’t, first and foremost, anchored in the color of my skin, but in the sacrifice of Christ. My history as a black woman in America was secondary to the family history I’ve been given in the Lord. In Trillia’s words, “Being black is part of my identity. But it isn’t my entire identity.” (p. 31)

Nevertheless, as she goes on, “… though this new identity trumps all other identity claims on my life, one fact remains –to those who see me, I am black.” (p. 32)

And the fact that I am, indeed, black is an aspect of identity that God has given me for his glorious purposes. 

In the question for diversity, we must remember two key things: 1) our ethnic identity is secondary to who we are in Christ, and 2) our ethnic identity was given to us by God, on purpose, for his glory. Unless we understand these truths, we will live lives full of dissonance, because the reality of our sonship through Christ gives meaning to our diversity, rather than eradicating it. 

I still don’t fit into certain stereotypes of what it means to be culturally black. That doesn’t forfeit my history or my passion for racial reconciliation. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have something unique to bring to the table when it comes to discussing and advancing diversity in the church. 

We all do. So let’s talk about it. 

  1. Have you ever felt that your differences separating you, not just from people outside of your ethnic group, but from people inside? 
  2. What does it mean to be black?
  3. How do you see your ethnicity in light of the Cross? 
  4. How can we combat ethnic stereotypes in the Church? 


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