Sometimes I say – and not in whispered tones – “I hope they don’t pick another straight white man” when I’m referring to pastor nominating committees or political races. As the mother of two SWM, the sister of two SWM, the spouse of one SWM and the friend of many SWM, it’s not that I dislike or distrust all SWM. It’s just that sometimes SWM are not the leaders we need for a given situation or time.
If organizations and communities want to change, sometimes a SWM is not the one to do it – except when they are the only one who can do it.
The truth is that not every straight white man believes that girls and women were created to be at their disposal. The truth is that not all single white men drunkenly assaulted women in high school or college. The truth is that not every straight white man believes that they are entitled to everything they want. The truth is that many of our institutions are comprised of people who are not straight white men and yet those people are the ones perpetuating the selection of straight white men as the only ones who can lead them.
I treasure congregations who take a chance on calling leaders who don’t look like them, think like them, sound like them. This is the future, my friends, for many of our congregations if they want to thrive.
This weekend, a predominantly white congregation in my Presbytery installs a man of color to be their pastor because their neighborhood is changing and the world is changing around and beyond them. They didn’t intentionally seek a person of color but they listened when God pointed them to this pastor. They trust God and take their role as disciples more seriously than they trust the way they’ve always done things. And this call is so real that you can feel the energy in the congregation.
The straight white men of that congregation helped make that happen. Not all straight white men are racist nationalists.
Image from the play by Young Jean Lee. (2014)