I would like to generalize for a moment about one of the major differences between white folks and black folks.
That sound you just heard was six Ledger-Enquirer editors leaping over desks and tripping over office chairs and trash cans while screaming “Noooooo!” at the tops of their lungs.
In today’s politically correct America, there are some things you just aren’t supposed to talk about, much less write about. However, I’ve been writing a column for the Ledger-Enquirer for nearly two decades, so I’ve probably exhausted everybody’s patience and am hanging by a thread anyway. I get it. I tire myself out.
I grew up in a small town that was majority black. We had a white side of town and a black side of town, but at school the kids blended together. I went to a public school that had a slightly higher black percentage because an awful lot of mostly and sometimes exclusively white private schools had popped up in that area as Christian education alternatives — coincidentally around the time of desegregation.
There was one place that was more segregated back then than any other — church. There are some churches with diverse congregations now, but 11 a.m. on Sunday morning remains the most segregated hour in America.
I grew up in white Southern Baptist churches and never set foot in a black church throughout my youth. The only time I saw black folks worshipping other than on television was when my dad preached for a while at the local nursing home. I thought it was rather interesting at the time that we had diversity as kids at school and the same in the nursing home cafeteria decades later but not much in between.
However, in recent years my work has taken me to many places and expanded my horizons. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many cities, villages and troubled communities and I’ve spent time in many churches — about half of them mostly white and the other half mostly black. Generally speaking, the churches are different. Neither is better or holier than the other, but white churches and black churches are, generally, different.
The black churches usually are more lively. They have better music. They dress fancier, especially the ladies. And they tend to worship for hours. Folks at white churches are ready to go after 60 minutes. I mean, there’s only so much time between “amen” and kickoff.
Last month, I went to a black church for a funeral. That was a first for me. The choir was rocking, the attendees were clapping and waving hands, the mourners were demonstrative in their grief, were well-dressed, and, again, the service lasted more than two hours.
There’s something to be said for that emotional release, but I come from a long line of extremely white folks who keep their emotions bottled up, much to the pleasure of those who make their money treating high blood pressure. Our funerals are predictable and dull and are over quickly so that we can get back to pretending we don’t have emotions.
But the experience did reinforce my desire to have much better music at my funeral than most white folks — with a good mix of Jimmy Buffett tunes, island music and perhaps some Waylon and Willie. The white boy in me, however, will be keeping the mourners (and those celebrating my passing) in casual attire — preferably shorts and flip-flops.
I also ask that y’all try to maintain your composure and keep your crying — and, more likely, organized cheers — to a minimum. Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially at my 15-minute funeral.
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