Guest / Limited Access /

I used to take a certain amount of pride in being the first African American on staff at Christianity Today. But I was routinely humbled when I realized that being first isn't all it's cracked up to be. When you're the only one, there's always a sense that you're in an extremely unstable position, as if one healthy gust of wind could topple you—and with you, the hopes of other people with your skin color.

Sometimes, I had to remind myself to "be black," to make sure the rest of the editors weren't overlooking some important point or advancing something that might be insensitive to nonwhites. This became exhausting. On the one hand, I wanted to be a good race man and represent "my people" well. But on the other, I hated all that responsibility. I just wanted to be an excellent journalist.

Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon echoed the opinion of many African Americans when, in a column about golfer Tiger Woods, he wrote, "There's a social responsibility that comes with being black in America, regardless of the profession, and that obligation increases exponentially with stature. There are rules adopted out of necessity, even desperation, by the subculture we as black folks inhabit. … One of the rules is you speak up, even if it means taking some lumps."

I did my best to speak up when it seemed necessary, and at times I caught grief for it. Other times, I decided it would be best to act like Jesus before Herod and simply say nothing. It gets old, you know—this taking-your-lumps business.

"People sometimes ignore you," says Bruce Fields, a professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. "Or, if there is attention directed toward you, it is subtly communicated ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Quotation Marks
Comments on Chavez's Jesus, Bible widgets, and more.
RecommendedLatasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.
TrendingThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
The Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
It begins by recognizing the name above every name.
Christianity Today
Exit Interviews
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.