Overcome the fear of facing the truth. You want to help. That’s good! Find out if what you are doing is really helpful. Ask questions. Be intentional about equalizing the playing field and being more than a leader. Be a friend.

The Colonization Mentality in America & Africa

Black women all over the world are beautiful, we shared the graceful message that the gospel brings with these young adult women who just graduated from High School. These women would now receive the identity needed to give hope to those they are called to influence.

Here we are vibrant African women. They want to be loved and treated equally. We can learn a lot from them too, they are not just there to be “helped”

I want to introduce you to a term I’m coining the colonization mentality.  This is hindering black and white people from being united in the church worldwide. I’ll show you how to overcome it.

This is based off of my experience flying to Zambia, Africa to do international missions for the past three years, living in SW Atlanta for 8 years (Highest crime rate zip in state of GA), and researching the historical interaction between blacks and whites for the past 13 years. 

Boy do I have a burden to share with you today!

Reconcilation, Adoption and Missions are all very real and powerful words for the Christian community in 2018. We trumpet these words proudly and humbly.

We get excited when we read Scriptures about helping the marganalized or uniting in Christ. We are more aware than ever before of the need for worldwide missions in the hardest darkest places of the earth.

In short, we want to go where no man has gone before and do what many generations before us did not want to do.

And this is ALL GOOD.

What do you know about Black People? Our history, culture, experiences, how to past has effected us, our way of thinking, our perspectives? Become an expert if you want to reconcile or reach.

What do you know about Black People? Our history, culture, experiences, how the past has effected us, our way of thinking, our perspectives? Become an expert if you want to reconcile or reach.

The problem I have found is that when we Go without proper Preparation and The Right Type of Education we can unintentionally bring a lot of harm to these “marganizalized” people.

We can carry the mentalities that have harmed us in our home lands, state, and nation for many years.

From observation and research I have concluded we all are a product of our environment and culture to some degree. 

We have been effected by racism in America. We have been effected by years of slavery in America. We have been effected by inequality in America.

The more I am blessed to link history and the actions of people I hear/how it makes others feel, I realize that it is impossible to deal with these issues through a quick prayer meeting or quiet prayer.

Link History to Current times. As you do this the pieces will start to come together and you won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

THIS TAKES WORK.

For example, I remember going to a service at a missions base in Africa and all the people were quiet, reserved worshipping God.

I was in the middle of researching and writing my chapter on colonization in Africa at the time.

My heart wept floods of tears and deep inside I could see the same patterns being repeated by white missionaries.

Something wasn’t right.

In all my other missionary journies I was only around black people- Black Americans and Black Africans.

This was my first time seeing white Americans missionize Africans. Thankfully this historical information was fresh in my mind.

Overcome the fear of facing the truth. You want to help. That’s good! Find out if what you are doing is really helpful. Ask questions. Be intentional about equalizing the playing field and being more than a leader. Be a friend.

Overcome the fear of facing the truth. You want to help. That’s good! Find out if what you are doing is really helpful. Ask questions. Be intentional about equalizing the playing field and being more than a leader. Be a friend.

I knew that the entire continent of Africa had been colonized in 35 years. I call this the Shock of Africa.  And I had just read a book by an African scholar defining colonization in his terms. And it wasn’t pretty.

He explained what colonization had done to his people, stripping them of resources, treating them less, giving them menial jobs and manipulating these actions to pretend as if the colonizers were “helping” civilize the poor Heathen Africans.

With colonization, they brought their form of  Christianity to the Africans.

How do you as an African handle the fact that at first (in some instances) it seems as if you are being provided resources like housing, orphan care for your children, new roads and education but over years you begin to realize that you do not have the same pay, housing quality and lifestyle that the people colonizing you experience.

Examine your perspective of Africa and black people before trying to serve. Poor does not mean unable to think. Not all of Africa is wreaking with a need for our financial help. You are there to partner with and provide resources for them to Lead not just Follow indefinitely. What good, talents, gifts, cultural distinctions are there that you can honor and give space for expression? Sometimes the constant images of poor black people creates a bias we are unaware of= these people are less than me so I need to go help them.

Examine your perspective of Africa and black people before trying to serve. Poor does not mean unable to think. Not all of Africa is wreaking with a need for our financial help. You are there to partner with and provide resources for them to Lead not just Follow you indefinitely. What good, talents, gifts, cultural distinctions are there that you can honor and give space for expression? Sometimes the constant images of poor black people creates a bias we are unaware of= these people are less than me so I need to go help them.

Because they came in with a colonizing mentality, they are coming to help you. They are coming to save you. They are coming to give you what they think you need.

But they also carry racism in their hearts because they do not see you as equal in the sense of respecting your intelligence, gifting, as cultural differences.

As I began to see white missionaries in Africa, it was really easy for me to pick up on unconscious biases and how the black people there were FEELING.

The Africans in the worship services I went to on all black mission trips were reserved as a people group, but never in worship. They were colorful just like black Americans.

Our worship is like our culture: colorful, vibrant, fun echoing the worship I’ve seen in Africa.

Our worship is like our culture: colorful, vibrant, fun echoing the worship I’ve seen in Africa.

They clapped and danced and sang loudly, like a historic old slave church piece of art.

Instantly I knew this group of Africans were holding back because they did not feel their culture would be accepted by the white Americans who came to help them.

The following day I had the chance to get in a more private environment with some of the Africans and they let loose. Their worship reminded me of old slave hymns, the ones we sang called spirituals.

My heart lept with joy!

This is true worship.

Without reservation.

I don’t even think the white missionaries had a clue this was going on, this all happened under their radar perhaps due to white privilege and a lack of education.

I don’t even think the white missionaries had a clue this was going on, this all happened under their radar perhaps due to white privilege and a lack of education.

They were mistaking culture for over emotionalism. There is a difference.

Instead of honoring the culture of these people and providing the gospel, they were stifling the culture perhaps without even knowing it.

They were mishandling the expression of God’s nature in African people.

Surely, this came from America.

When you are not used to being a minority it can be hard to deeply consider other cultures, to humble yourself, to see your blind spots because you have not had to your entire life.

Many times you have not had to consider your own culture.

Maybe you do not know what your own culture is or believe you have one.

This chart can help:

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CULTURE is your language, customs, rituals, behavior, faith, food, art, attitudes and beliefs.

When reading slave narratives, I found slaves would write about how they knew their masters “culture” better than their masters knew themselves. And doesn’t that make sense?

It becomes a survival mechanism.

You have to know everything about your oppressor if you want to be safe and to serve them without punishment. When will they come, go, what will they eat, what makes them happy, mad, sad, what are their behaviors and customs?

Part of a minority persons survival mechanism is learning the culture of the majority. You’ll be surprised what they have learned about you!

It was black peoples job to know their oppressors who happened to be white people for many years. We raised the white community for many years, literally caring for their children while being forced to neglect our own.

And this “information” has not been lost in the shuffle. It has become a part of common black knowledge.

This is how I picked up on the cultural cues and dynamics while in Africa so easily.

I know what is culturally acceptable and not because I am bi-cultural as both an American and being of African descent.

Many times the culture is more reserved, less forward, less dramatic, the food less seasoned (except for in the south), the art more calculated than black Caribbean African and even Hispanic cultures (I have seen this in Mexico as well).

This is not bad. It is different. Different isn’t bad, it’s just different.

In south west Atlanta, for 8 year, I lived on a street where child molestation, drunkenness, crack addiction, prostitution  and prosecution were the norm.

I saw the same colonization mentality try to happen there but it was shot down. White missionaries began to move in without the basic knowledge they could only learn from a black American and they instinctively began to try to “change” the area at community meetings.

Although I’m a Christian too I knew this wasn’t going to work. They were only seeing surface level.

This wasn’t just the hood!

There was still a pride in this community. 

Martin Luther King went to school in this hood.

The street were named after respected civil rights leaders.

The people living in the homes were descendants of civil rights legends.

They chose to stay. 

They went to work every day and earned an honest living.

I even had to earn their respect.

But here was a novice white American coming in to tell them what they should do to better their community.

I stood up in that meeting and said, “Ma’am, do you realize where you are? Do you realize the history here? These people may not have much but they take a pride in their neighborhood. Martin Luther King went to school here. You can’t just come in without respecting the elders. You have to take time to listen and honor.”

If you want to win the heart of people and authentically love them slow down to listen, to learn, to honor.

The room began to roar with agreement through applause. A heart string was struck.

This was the colonization mentality at its best.

Black People, the poor, orphans (who are black being adopted by other cultures), Africans- they all have been forced to silently and quietly suffer as they hear comments or see actions that people think are helpful but are actually harmful.

I’m here to tell you They Notice More than you Think. They read between the lines, even ththough starving little child.

They absorb.

And at some point they will react because this is a form of oppression.

When they do, don’t get mad and say they are angry black people.

If you are going to enter into their spaces for whatever reasons (missions, to raise their children, to reconcile), you have a responsibility to learn.

Learn to Listen, Be a Life Learner, Ask Questions, Uproot Unconscious Biases in your Heart, Don’t Assume you already know yourself or them.

This will all help in finally defeating the Colonization Mentality we are now facing on a worldwide scale.

Black People across the world from Africa to the Aboriganies are requesting white missionaries no longer come to “help” them, black adopted children are growing up and exposing how they really felt in a white home…We can’t afford to ignore the cry any longer.

Let’s listen and…

Let’s take action. 

Please allow me to offer you a resource that will get you on a good start in overcoming blind spots, www.thefergusondilemma.com

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