An Assessment of Afro-Centrism, Color-Blind Ideology, and Intersectionality

Assata Zerai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some have argued that multiracial/multicultural congregations are the fastest growing types of large Christian churches in the United States today (Yancey 2003). In this multi-sited unobtrusive ethnography, I compare three churches to explore diverse meanings of church unity in the context American color-blind society (Bonilla-Silva, 2007). Site 1, an African American Protestant evangelical congregation is distinguished by its coherence around black liberation theology. Site 2, a largely white Protestant evangelical leadership and multiracial congregation practices a color-blind approach. Finally site 3, an inclusive multi-racial church and pastoral staff works hard at maintaining its multi-racial/multi-cultural identity through a more intersectional approach to unity. The availability of resources for understanding, expressing, and mediating racial identity shapes the choices of members in these church settings concerning addressing cultural difference. And local context, educational attainment, and exposure of ministers and parishoners, all indicators of social isolation (as discussed by Emerson & Smith, 2000), contribute to this resource base. Despite efforts to build internal cohesion, some analysts may continue to criticize multiracial churches' slow progress toward eradicating color blind racism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-272
Number of pages19
JournalRace, Gender & Class
Issue number1/2
StatePublished - 2011


  • multiracial churches
  • color blind racial ideology
  • intersectionality
  • Protestant evangelicalism


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