Who Is My Neighbor? (Against All Odds:  The Fight for a Black Middle Class)


In an enlightening documentary with Bob Herbert we learned these troubling statistics:  “Working hard has never been enough for Black Americans to flourish.  Nearly 40% of all Black children in America are poor.  The unemployment rate for Black Americans is twice that of White Americans.  For every dollar of wealth in the hands of every White family in America, the typical Black family has just a little more than a nickel.”

Many Calvary folks joined others in the community at Normal First United Methodist Church this week for a viewing of this documentary, Against All Odds:  The Fight for a Black Middle Class.”  Following the documentary, we heard the stories of three panel members who told us their stories of growing up as Black men and women and the challenges and obstacles they faced and still face.

This gathering was especially timely after a sermon series on racism and what it means to “.... Hate what is evil; cling to what is good,” and for us to “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:9b, 21).  As Christians, we aren’t called to simply love those who look like us, who act like us, who speak the same language, worship the same way, etc., etc.,  So then why are the above statistics so horribly shocking this long after the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s?  How, in 2017, can we still be talking about our neighbors’ color of skin as if it is a defining marker of some archaic class system?

This documentary can be found online and I would encourage you to watch it with your friends and families.  It does an exceptional job of describing the reasons that the White middle class is so much easier to maintain than the Black middle class is to even make an entry.

When you see a Black American who is poor, what’s your first thought?  What about a poor White American?  We often assume that the Black person just doesn’t want to work, hasn’t tried hard enough, has spent his/her money on drugs, etc.  Our first reaction to a poor White American is often much more compassionate.

If you are a White American, you may be asking yourself, “What does she want me to do about this?”  I’m glad you asked!  The biggest impact we might make today is to build relationships with those in the Black community.  We need to break down barriers that should never even exist in 2017.  If you are a person who works in Human Resources, if you have a qualified White person and an equally qualified Black person, who will you hire…..really…..not just in theory?

Here are just a few of the places that you can serve where you will find all races (including Caucasians) who could use a leg up in society…...how about giving just a couple of hours a week to volunteer at one of these:

  • The West Side Revitalization Project
  • Home Sweet Home Ministries
  • Safe Harbor
  • The YWCA or YMCA
  • Faith in Action
  • The Baby Fold

Do you want help connecting with any of these?  You can go to here and scroll through the list of in-church and outside the walls of Calvary ministries.  Find the one that interests you, click on it, and you’ll find someone to e-mail.  You can also just call the church and talk to me about it and I’ll get you connected!

We can fix it, but we CAN make a difference…..one relationship at a time. 

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC