When I was 11 years old, my family moved from Flint, Michigan to suburban Pennsylvania.
In the neighborhood where my Dad worked in Flint, I was a racial minority. My first experiences in social circles were ones where I was often the only white kid present. It's nothing I ever questioned or even thought about. I just assumed that this was what the whole world was like.
When we moved to the suburbs, it was odd to me. There were no black people in the places I hung around or at my school. The world I'd moved to was, for the most part, all white.
In the early 90's, thrash-metal-music was becoming a valid musical genre. This music was, in my opinion, largely marketed to white people. I ate it up. I loved it. I couldn't get enough. The "thrash metal kids" all had long, unkempt hair. They wore tightly pegged jeans, and raggedy t-shirts.
Inside cities in black neighborhoods a different musical style was sweeping the nation. The "rap kids" wore baggy jeans. Their hair was short, and their music was becoming a force to be reckoned with.
This was what the nation was like- polarized in its musical tastes between the suburbs and the inner city.
In these polarized pockets, two groups stood out among all the others. They both had wide appeal in their particular genre. Anthrax and Public Enemy (both from New York) couldn't have been on more different pages musically. Anthrax, with their hair, their guitars, their drums, and their operatic vocals. Public Enemy with a set of turntables, fronted by Chuck D. and Flava-Flav rhyming into a set of microphones.
White people loved Anthrax.
Black people loved Public Enemy.
And in 1994 they did something really strange.
I remember hearing their collaboration for the first time and thinking that it was something that the world needed to hear. It was incredible. All of the urban sounds I'd heard as a kid were represented, yet all of the suburban sounds I started listening to once my family moved to the suburbs were there too.
I listened to the track, titled, "Bring The Noise" over and over again. I was stunned that these two groups, so opposite from one another could produce such a "complete" sound.
I'd have loved to hear these groups slugging it out with their managers when they had the idea to collaborate.
They probably heard a lot of things like:
"You can't do that! Sales will plummet!"
"Please don't do this! You're going to lose your audience!"
"Don't ruin the 'original' thing you have going! This'll kill you!"
But the opposite happened.
The song ended up winning a Grammy.
This is what intentional diversity looks like.
We choose to be intentional about reversing cultural trends. We collaborate and create things with people who are different from us. We cross lines, we share, and we allow ourselves to be shaped by the culture of another. When we do, it ends up forming something that is more "complete."
Wherever you find yourself in your life today. In a world of white or a world of black, this is what God wants. Less polarization. More collaboration with people who are not like we are. The world is waiting for people to step up and take the courage to "blend," even though the pressure around us says things like, "Don't ruin the 'original' thing you have going! This'll kill you!"
It won't. In fact, the world around you will look at the results and see something deeper happening. They'll see it and say, "There it is! That's how this should be! Give it a Grammy!"
You can do this by who you choose to eat lunch with at work. You can do this by the people you hire at your place of business. You can do this by sitting in a different spot on the train. You can do this by where you choose to live. You can do this by who you allow your kids to play with.
You can do this. In fact, it won't happen unless you do.
It sounds funny to say, but we need more... well... Anthrax.
God, help us to see that all that is good is to be found in intentional, interracial collaboration.