Books The Arts

United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 1 – My New Identity)

Jasmine Holmes

“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? 


2 thoughts on “United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 1 – My New Identity)

  1. Avery

    Great questions to ponder and think through: For me, as a sophomore in college, it is very interesting to see that sometimes, across the scale of “African-American surveys” I wouldn’t fit the “mold”, according to some people. I come from a long line of educated men and women, and that alone can exclude me from some of the particulars, as it relates to my own race. To be “black”, in my opinion, means to see beyond the norm– to work a little harder than most to succeed, and to cognitively strive for excellence. In light of the cross, I see the world differently and I’m convinced that racial unity is necessary and needs to be celebrated more often. An interesting thing about the Gospel is that it sets the stage for unity, breaking down barriers and interferences. One way to break ethnic stereotypes is to talk through these things– whether it’s discussing a book like, “United” or having a gathering on our college campus, etc.. and, with a sense of maturity, have a straight-forward discussion to let everyone know, “Hey, just because this applies for a certain group of people, doesn’t make it a broad stroke and automatically apply to everyone.”

  2. george canady

    I think hard about these things some times, but after I comment I wonder why I shared my thoughts at all. At times it seems so hopeless to even talk about these things to people who don’t see any problem with the way things are. I hope you guys hang in there and show this new generation of young believers the staying power of the patient steady drum beat of the truth of James chapter 2. Perhaps someday the pulpit will hear as the daughters “prophesy”. I pray the pulpit here in our area takes this issue up. I hope you can stir them up. I would stir something up as I have before if I thought it would help, but I think it better now to pray for you all and cheer you on as I go about the business to diversify my own mind and heart in how I think and act about how to live and love ALL the brothers and sisters here and now. I think about MLK as he sat in Jail and how the local pastors told him to wait. He would not. Please don’t give up. Some are depending on your voice to be heard.

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