Young (White) Anabaptists Radicals?

Debbie Says:

How many young adults of color are authors on this blog??? Think about it. This should be called YWAR – Young White Anabaptists Radicals.

There are some, though you might not know it from the pseudonyms, and I’m sure it isn’t representative.

There’s also a good post on a related topic from Skylark earlier called How do we get the straight white men to shut up?. Here is another place to talk about it:

Comments (14)

  1. folknotions

    Good to have this discussion again, while keeping a few things in mind:

    1) Pretty sure Debbie was trolling; never seen a comment by her before. Funny how more of our vibrant discussions are being set off by trolling.

    2) According to the MCUSA survey, 11% of the whole denomination is “Racial/Ethnic” (they could have found a much better way of putting that….). So, we can talk about diversifying, and the church in fact is seeing an increase in people of color in the denomination, but it is still dominated by white people.

  2. Skylark

    1. I’m also confident Debbie was trolling. It’s a good opportunity to revisit ourselves, though.
    2. The Mennonite church IS still dominated by white people, but by being young and radical, we’re already not “just representin'” the demographic percentages of the church. I hope we’re not satisfied with being a reflection. I look at my own church, which has roughly 20% non-white people. I wonder if this diversity actually means anything–do the non-white people simply attend and participate in activities, or are they an active part of decision-making?

    Years ago, I flipped through some of the promo lit for my alma mater. I noticed the photos would indicate the school is far more ethnically diverse than it actually is. One photo of the courtyard had 80% of all the ethnic minority students on campus, and it still looked like a 50-50 white/nonwhite mix. OK, it’s great to promote ethnic diversity, but it seemed like false advertising. I’d have been sorely disappointed to enroll, expecting to find non-white faces and life stories around every corner, and discover it just doesn’t happen there.

    Are there other values we must sacrifice en route to achieving diversity? Do we promote ourselves as welcoming ethnic minorities in the hopes they’ll come? Until we actually get diverse, do we look like buffoons? That may have set off our troll.

  3. debbie

    I was not trolling. I am a Mennonite women. Don’t jump to assumptions. It’s obvious though, that most of these posts are by rich young white kids.

  4. debbie

    Another question: How many churches of color or Mennonite churches in the Global South would support the LGBT agenda? Are you open to listening to my part of the church?

  5. ArchaicFuturist

    I can’t speak for others, but I’m certainly willing to listen to your part of the church. That doesn’t mean I’ll agree with you on everything, and if it includes exclusion of LGBT people from the church, or from living the sexuality that they have been blessed with by God, then I almost certainly won’t agree with you.

    But this blog could certainly use an infusion of thought and participation from the Anabaptist community outside of North America.

  6. michelle


    It might help people not to jump to assumptions if you could give a little background on your questions and thoughts…. maybe you did that elsewhere and I missed it??? Your comments seem a little abrupt, with a lot of room for guessing on what you might be getting at, so I’m not sure exactly what to respond to – but I’m interested in hearing you say more. There are a lot of directions I (and others) could go in response to your very brief questions/comments, but I’d rather know more specifically what you’re reacting to and questioning before I risk making more assumptions. Can you say a bit more?

  7. lukelm

    “It’s obvious though, that most of these posts are by rich young white kids.”


  8. Skylark

    Debbie, Mennonite women can be trolls, too. Part of being taken seriously in an internet community is revealing pieces of one’s self over time, not simply dropping in to make accusations while affording one’s self none of the vulnerability expected of us.

    I’m speaking from the experience of over a decade of participating in message boards and blogs online. Often, trolls are easy to peg. It’s encouraging when someone who initially looks like a troll decides to become an open, vibrant part of the community.

  9. lukelm

    Okay… debbie, you’ve officially proven yourself wrong without anyone having to say anything. Over on the “Coming Out Strong” (BMC) blog, debbie has registered (for some reason) and left her single thought there in response to a post about the injustice of how “love the sinner, hate the sin” is applied to the church’s queers:

    “Let me guess – you are white. This is such a rich, white person’s agenda. How many churches of color or Anabaptist churches in the global south support this agenda?”

    Here’s the irony: the writer she’s referring to (a good personal friend of mine) is both NOT white and happens to be FROM the global south. Debbie, there are lots of queer Mennonites/Anabaptists of color (I know a handful) AND queer Menn/Anabaptists from the global south (also know some.) Tell THEM that the anti-homophobia agenda only belongs to rich white North Americans. Oh wait… you just tried to. Your assumptions are just plain wrong, debbie.

  10. lukelm

    It is a very tough issue, though, as serious of a participant in the conversation debbie may or may not be. I’m not sure I actually have the knowledge to back it up, but I’d be willing to believe that church in the US made of mostly people of color are generally less supportive of LGBT rights, and in the global South. It’s thorny… how can I, who have tons of privilege based on race (white) and economics speak into a place of people who none of that power, but do have straight privilege? Is it my/our place to bring that message of LGBT rights to those places? I’m sure there are ways in which it could feel like an imposition of foreign culture – of course, there are certainly very interesting things that have been written about how homophobia was a European colonizer importation into native cultures – I cite just one article below. This point isn’t really central, though, because we’re dealing with real people here & now, so the origin of their ideas isn’t as important a thing as the way imposition of ideas by people who have done too much imposing already might continue cycles of oppression.

    In visiting other cultures myself, like in my various trips in Latin America, I have always re-closeted myself, and am completely undercover in all things related to sexuality or discussions about it, except with a few people I learned to trust very much. That’s probably the way it has to go – such contacts and discussions can only happen after strong relationships have been formed.

    And yet… I stand by my point from my previous comment. I know queer people of color, and I know queer people from the global south, and believe me… they aren’t sitting around worrying about imposing rich white culture on their communities. They feel hetero-normative oppression as much as any queer person, and are longing to end that oppression as much as anyone else.

    “Homosexuality” in Africa: Issues and Debates
    Deborah P. Amory
    Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 25, No. 1, Commentaries in African Studies: Essays about African Social Change and the Meaning of Our Professional Work (1997), pp. 5-10

    “Virulent homophobia may be the real western perversion at work here.”

  11. vivian

    Hello – I have a response to debbie and luke, specifically around lgbt issues and people of color. I have been reading things on the site but I am new to posting. I’m white, early 30s and transgendered. I grew up Mennonite but I am not involved with a church and don’t identify as christian or anabaptist at this point. So you can take my opinions with a grain of salt if you want.

    Luke, I don’t believe that white people are more accepting of LGBT people than people of color are. I’ve heard white people state this, but I think it’s a myth and helps white people feel superior and more “enlightened” because “we accept lgbt people and they don’t”. I realize you weren’t saying this, you were talking about the church specifically — I don’t know about the church per se but my gut is that if you got to know people one-on-one, they’d be just as accepting of you or me (or more so) in non-white churches than in white churches.

    Some of the tension is because mainstream LGBT organizations in the USA have done a poor job of focusing on the needs of queer people of color. Two issues I often see brought up by mainstream gay organizations are “gay marriage” and “gays in the military”. These aren’t the burning issues for people of color. Access to health care, a living wage, child care, racism are examples of things that can be more important.

    Also, white LGBT people often fail to recognize the important roles that people of color have played in gay rights. The Stonewall riots are often celebrated as the defining moment for the gay rights movement. The people involved in the Stonewall riots were mostly Black, Hispanic, and/or transgendered. How many white people know this??

    Debbie, I understand if you feel that white people are coming into your space and telling people of color how to run their churches. But Debbie, if you are reading this, here is my challenge for you. LGBT people are everywhere. We are people that you know in _your_ church, we are ministers, song leaders, elders, Sunday school teachers, of various ages. We may not all identify using the same LGBT labels, but we are there nonetheless. Get to know some LGBT people of color. And then ask yourself, do you really want to kick these people out??

    I know that some church leaders in the global south speak out against LGBT people, as do a large number of white church leaders in the USA. I don’t believe that the anti-gay church leaders speak for all the members of their congregations.

  12. vivian

    Luke, thanks for bringing up that homophobia was a European colonizer in native communities. I’ve also heard that, and agree that many communities of people around the world were more accepting of LGBT people in their societies until Europeans came and told them it was wrong.

    As far as bringing the message of LGBT rights into other communities, I think it depends. If white people support queer people of color and listen to their concerns, then it might work. But white people need to be very aware of their privilege in the world, otherwise it comes across as white people telling people of color what to do. One of the challenges is “LGBT” does not look the same across the world. Especially around gender variance, there is a lot of acceptance of that around the world, but it is tied into cultural traditions and people may not think of it as LGBT or transgender. The names and group identities are different.

  13. Johnathan

    If you have any concern for new believers please read this…

  14. Pingback: A never moving frame grounded in tradition and held up by suspenders » Young Anabaptist Radicals

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