Monday, September 10, 2007
Black and Amish?
Thanks to my eagle-eyed and knowledgeable readers, it has come to my attention that this couple is most likely not Amish, but in fact Mennonnite. The Mennonites and the Amish share a common protestant history, but they are quite different in their current practices and core beliefs. You can visit Thirdwaycafe.com to have all your Mennonite questions answered.
Thirdway Cafe also provides the following information about Black Mennonites:
" The Mennonite Brethren denomination was among the first known to begin work among people of African-American origin, in a mining community of Elk Park, N.C. in 1886. The Mennonite Church baptized its first black members in 1897 in Cocolamus, Pa."
End of correction
School's back in session and My American Meltingpot is back from summer vacation. Please keep tuning in to see what we're blogging about. This year we're going to try to post more frequently since there always seems to be something brewing in America's cultural stew. Things that make us mad. People who inspire us and of course those situations that just make us go hmmm....like this one.
Recently I went to the Philadelphia Zoo with my family. We were just strolling along, looking at monkeys and elephants and such when I noticed a large crowd of Amish folk taking in the sights as well. Of course I noticed them, because, well, big groups of Amish are noticeable at places like the zoo. Sure they were pushing strollers and pointing at the giant boa constrictors like the rest of us, but the outfits always make you look twice. Not that there's anything wrong with the Amish dress, I'm just saying you notice it.
Well, on this particular day, with this particular group of Amish, I noticed one couple because the husband was Black. Just regular old American looking Black. He was wearing black pants and a white shirt so at first I couldn't be sure if he was really with the group, but then I realized that his wife was the Amish woman in the floral-print dress next to him and the little biracial girl who held his hand was surely his daughter.
I had to hold myself back from running right up to him to ask if he was indeed Amish. I wanted to know how he came to be Amish. If there were more like him. Of course I did not ask these burning questions because I believe in people's right to enjoy an outing at the zoo without being attacked by curious strangers like myself.
So, I simply allowed myself to stare and wonder and smile at the sight. This is what I love to see, racial stereotypes being shattered by regular everyday people. Just by being out at the zoo, this couple made people stop and think and question. This is what I love about the human experience. This is what I love about My American Meltingpot.
Curiously, after a brief internet search I found very little information about Black Amish people. Technically, Amish is a religion so anybody "should" be able to join, but I'm not sure how the Amish handle "newcomers." Definitely something that makes you go hmmmm.
Photo by Vitamin Lee