Subtle Differences in congregations

by SouthCentral 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • SouthCentral

    I grew up in a very zealous congregation. We had almost 40 pioneers with only 100 publishers. The congregation was 100% Black Americans (I don't say african-american). I moved 80 miles away to the Antelope Valley section of Los Angeles in the early 90's. We had a handfull of black families at the time, but there were NO zealous people in the congregation. We had 120 publishers, with less than 5 pioneers. I think there were 10 elders as well. In this area there were massive (4000 sq. ft.) homes that were inexpensive. This caused incredible parties, wife-swapping cliques, youth that dissapeared from the org. at 18 among many other problems. There were SOME inter-mingling among the races, but the black friends LOVED each other....It was like a secret clique that we had in the congregation. I never noticed any REAL racism in my 40 years in the org. until i went to a spanish JW wedding just 3 months ago. It was incredibly blatant. We secured the venue for my wife's friend; but were served our food LAST, although there was no assigned seating, we were MOVED to a very bad location in the venue among other things.....

    What are some differences that you noticed between black/white/spanish congregations? Have you noticed any racism/discrimination? Did witness talk negatively about other races? Growing up, most looked down on the spanish congregations (in the late 80's) but there was never any blatant discrimination. What has been your experience?

    Did friend in your congregation not like /talk about other races negatively?

  • sparrowdown

    I remember the racism being of the condascending, patronizing kind rather than hostile or passive aggressive kind of racism, but that was in white dominated congregations.

    I think racism just like sexism and agism and any other ism common to religious people is alive and well in the borg and varies only by degree and location.

  • scratchme1010

    What are some differences that you noticed between black/white/spanish congregations? Have you noticed any racism/discrimination? Did witness talk negatively about other races? Growing up, most looked down on the spanish congregations (in the late 80's) but there was never any blatant discrimination. What has been your experience?

    Did friend in your congregation not like /talk about other races negatively?

    For as much as the JWs want to be and portray themselves as not part of the planet, and for as much as they claim that they have some "spiritual paradise" thing going on, the reality is that they aren't any different than the rest of the world. Socially, congregations behave according to the local culture. It's impossible to expect all congregations to have the exact same social characteristics.

    As for racism, just like the rest of the country, I saw it everywhere in all the congregations I went to.

    In one of my arguments with my father, he told me that the JWs don't discriminate. I laughed and said: "Sure, they don't discriminate; they just claim to be the one and only group that has the one and only truth, and the only ones deserving to live. Nothing, just that".

  • James Mixon
    James Mixon

    I witness no racism what so ever when i served in the mid-west 70's-80's. One brother

    I knew very well was a ex- KKK member. As a black family and a elder invited to speak

    in predominant white congregations and my congregation was predominant white I

    experienced no racism. I spoke in cities where there was no blacks in their town.

    But on the other hand the folks in the community I served, oh boy that's another story.LOL

    You may ask, why did I take my family and move to this community? Well I was ask by the

    white brothers. There wasn't a KH in that town of 10000 and a city of 5% blacks,I didn't

    realize the racism until we purchase our home and the community had a meeting to buy

    my home I had purchase. I moved from California and didn't realize I purchase a home on the

    wrong side of town. But after 9 years in that community I must say things got better.

    We built a KH there after two years and still standing today.

    But the friends, no negative talk about Native Americans, whites or blacks.

    I had a problem because I came from a predominant black congregation in Calif.

  • SouthCentral

    On New Year's Eve one year, ALL of the blacks from 2 congregations were at a GATHERING. It was my most pleasant experience outside of South LA. It was an oasis in a foregin land. Now, the Antelope Valley is much more integrated than when I initially moved there. It's funny how people seem to be more comfortable among those that they share a similar background with. I don't think any of us were racist, we just enjoyed each other's company. In hindsight, I really miss the friendships from our black congregation. My son said he wished he grew up in that same environment, because there was a lotta love among the black friends, but no sincere concern among the white ones.

  • Dunedain

    I grew up in an ALL white congregation, and not in a place you would expect either. It was not somewhere in middle America, it was in a BOROUGH OF NEW YORK CITY.

    The area I grew up in, and I am from, was a predominately Italian American population. Hence, so was the congregation I was in from infancy. In fact, there was even another congregation that met at our hall, that was only Italian speaking.

    That being said, it was in a VERY affluent area, literally multi million dollar homes everywhere, including on my block growing up, AND the same block as the Kingdom Hall. This created the same type of "pitfalls" that you ge, like the OP mentioned.

    Yet, in the same borough of NYC, ALL the other congregations were mostly black and Spanish. In those congregation there were actual families living in utter poverty. Some families did not have enough food to feed themselves, or enough money to cloth themselves.

    In those congregation, however, I would not say they were necessarily more zealous, or free of "sin and problems". In fact, in those congregations there were quite different issues. Many of the members lived in NYC housing projects. This meant that the Elders there were dealing with members whos kids were joining gangs, selling and doing drugs, and involved in crimes that sent them to jail. Also, the morality or lack of, seemed to be just as prevalent in those congs, too. Kind of equal in all.

    As far as out and out full blown racism, I really did not see that from congregation to congregation. When black brothers, and their families visited, they were treated like everyone else, including being invited over for dinner, lunch, and that kinda stuff. In fact everyone was would get a dose of the FAKE, PLASTIC, CONDITIONAL "LOVE", that we know most JW's are good for.

    Now, there was a sense of superiority, in my cong compared to others, but I believe this came more from an economic standpoint, not so much a racial one, (not saying that's better). Also, my cong was mostly Italian American, and with that comes a certain "clan" like mentality, that is just found in certain cultures. This, of course, was in the cong, and the "world".

    I believe this kind of stuff exists on all different levels, and in most congs. Not necessarily racist, but a certain "us and them" type of attitude, but mostly from a financial standpoint. In my old cong I knew of white brothers marrying black sisters, and vice versa, but I also knew of white families that were assigned to "black" congregations who transferred to my old "white" congregation, even though they didn't live in its jurisdiction. I don't know what their reasons were, but it could very well have been racial, or wanting to be more "comfortable", as some would say.

    Also, many Bethelites would go to my old congregation, and they were mostly white, and "higher ups" with a lot of pull at Brooklyn Bethel. Did their "status" allow them to pick my old congregation? Why wouldn't they go to the others, where possibly they were more needed?

  • SouthCentral

    Great post, thanks for sharing. The area that I live in now has million dollar homes and the superiority complex exist on the same socio-economic basis. Witnesses in Los Angeles always look down on US saying, "You know how weak they are out" Its funny!!!!!!!!!! They actually believe that they can live poor and EARN their salvation. I have heard how weak we are from at least 30 of my old friends. When they talk about materialism at our hall, the speaker would almost have a smirk on his face. Maybe it is a Spiritual Paradise!!! lol

  • James Mixon
    James Mixon

    SouthCentral: My uncle served as a elder in the Watts congregation before he died, (1990's-2010)

  • OneGenTwoGroups

    Field service groups.

    Blacks stick together usually and the whites are just oblivious.

  • Dagney

    I grew up in a very racially mixed area and congregation. That was the era of congregation gatherings for all. We were all close and remained so.

    I would run into the matriarchs later at conventions and every time they would pull me to their ample chests and call me baby girl even though I was in my 30's, 40's and even 50's.

    I smile when I think of those sisters.

    Edited to add, my comment was probably not what you were looking for, but it raised a sweet memory. I bet there was discrimination for kids didn't see it.

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