Do you define yourself as multiethnic?” So read a flyer distributed to ELCA congregations—an invitation for young adults age 18 to 25 to participate in “You welcome me,” a first-ever ELCA leadership event specifically welcoming those of multiethnic heritage.
Held June 20-22 in Chicago, the event drew some 20 participants for Bible study, worship, mentoring, networking and discussions of faith, identity, vocation and what it means to be multiethnic in the ELCA and society.
Keynote speaker Karris Golden told participants to celebrate the blessings of a multiethnic upbringing or ancestry.
Words like “mulatto,” “mixed,” and “mutt” are “slurs that are self-degrading” and must be erased, she said.
And rather than worry about what other people think “we have to learn how to claim our heritage and be proud of it ...,” she said.
“We all have experiences where someone asked us to choose [one part of our ethnic heritage over another]. You begin to think you don’t have the right to your heritage. ... But it’s not OK to say, ‘Pick one.’ ”
It may be easier for society to place people into boxes, but event organizer Joseph Villalon of ELCA Multicultural Ministries pointed out: “If I can fit you into my preconception, I don’t have to really get to know you.”
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers