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Racism in the UMC election process

by Michael L. Gonzalez

July 17, 2000

Let's look at the facts and logic in the UMC leadership's perception of the race issue:
  1. Minorities are under-represented in the episcopacy, in the clergy, etc. etc.

  2. Improving the representation of minorities EVERYWHERE in the UMC (leadership, clergy, etc. etc.) will bring that wonderful quality of diversity to the UMC (adding to the diversity in theology and everything else).

  3. The UMC has set down in writing (in the Book of Discipline, and in all kinds of guidelines) that whenever "picking and choosing" is done, it should consider diversity (it's said in many different ways, but this sort of sums it up).

  4. Since the UMC is all about counting and statistics (as it goes out of its way to label everyone with a tag of ethnicity, race, gender, etc.), let's look at the following statistic:

An excerpt from today's UMNS story.

"The denomination has 8.4 million members in the United States, including about 382,000 black members. Following the elections this summer, 15 of the 50 active U.S. bishops are African American, an increase of five over the previous 1997-2000 quadrennium."

Question:  Has the UMC system for diversity gone awry?  Has someone miscalculated?  Has the system now caused discrimination against whites or against men?

Why are there now 30% African American bishops in a country with about half that percentage of African Americans in the general population, and in a denomination that has less than 5% African Americans?

Also, the way I see it, many of the minority groups are under-represented, and I wonder if the African Americans are being favored (simply based on the numbers above) over the other minority groups.

I ask this question in all seriousness:  Does the UMC have to continually measure these statistics to ensure that some certain percentages are achieved, and now in the current situation, does the UMC have to "shut off" access to the episcopacy to African Americans, so as not to loose the wonderful diversity being sought?  (after all, if there were only 20% white males in the episcopacy, wouldn't that situation be considered as "out of whack" with the UMC number counting games?)


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