My friend Ed Gilbreath has just published a book: Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity.
Ed is the editor of Today's Christian and an editor at large for Christianity Today. In the late 90s he was associate editor for New Man, the official magazine of the Promise Keepers men's ministry. He is a coauthor of Gospel Trailblazer (Moody, 2003), the story of African American evangelist Howard O. Jones, the first black evangelist on Billy Graham's crusade team.
Ed's writing is mindblowing, so I'm very excited to read it. You can check out the prologue and first chapter online at ReconciliationBlues.com. Here's a bit from the book:
I’ve never thought of myself as "the token black," but I have enjoyed the privileges of being the only African American in the house. For a long time, I lived in blissful denial of the inadequacy of this arrangement. While certainly conscious of race, I didn’t consider it something that would affect people’s perceptions of me, nor did I allow it to influence my view of others. I wore color-blinders.
I was the approachable black guy, the white community’s friendly interpreter of all things African American. And hey, it was great! I admit it. At moments, I prided myself on being the only black person some white people would ever know personally. When another black person would come into the picture from time to time, I’d feel threatened—like they were trying to intrude on my territory. "These are my white people!" I’d think.
The problem, of course, is that no single person can legitimately represent an entire race. Though I lived with that delusion throughout much of my young adulthood, I got a rude awakening once I began to ascend the professional ranks at white evangelical institutions. After a period of racial hibernation, I awoke to the reality of my otherness. I realized once and for all that, as an African American evangelical, I am a black Christian in a white Christian’s world.