Rumors have floated about that there is some underlying racism within the Assembly. I experienced subtle racism through my own involvement in the group as an African American.
When I was living in a training home, Betty Geftakys came to stay with us. Our home was a specialized home, which was always prepared to meet Betty's dietary demands. One afternoon, while I was in the living room doing some cleaning, Betty and the head steward of the home were in the kitchen. Betty was reading something in the local newspaper and made a comment, "Black people are so lazy." I was shocked, left the living and went to my room. I guess Betty saw me leave, a few minutes later she came up to see me and offered an apology for offending me with her comments. She said, "I did not grow up with a lot of Black people."
Another time years later, I was waiting for the meeting to begin and talking to members. A young brother came up to me and said, "Hey nigger!" I was upset and asked him to stop, but he just laughed at me and again said, "Hey nigger!" I went to a leading brother and told him about the young brother's offensive words. He told me to stop being so easily offended and advised, "Wasn't Christ called worse names than that? It's not a big deal-don't worry about it."
During the meeting, this same leading brother got up to preach from the book of Acts. His topic included a man named Niger (pronounced nIj-jer, with a long "I", as in the words "knight" and "light"). The leading brother pronounced it with a short "I" and said, "nigger." I was so embarrassed, as well as the other Black members. This took place even after I had just made it clear that the word "nigger" was offensive, he continued to pronounce it just that way. Was it to teach me a lesson?
While waiting for a Bible Study meeting to begin, a Black sister and I sat and talked. A leading brother's son came behind her and began digging his finger into her back. We both turned around, and she asked, "What are you doing?" He replied, "It's a nigger digger!" Needless to say, I was appalled. The sister just turned around and attempted to continue the conversation. "Aren't you going to talk to his dad?" I asked her. She was reluctant to say anything. I told her she had better get up and go talk to his dad! I went with her to make sure she really did report the child's behavior. She did, but only after I practically forced her to! The child was required to go back to her an apologize for offending her, but it was never made clear that the word "nigger" was offensive.
It seems that the Assembly allows this type of racist behavior, not only towards members of the African American race, but also Hispanics and Asians. One must decide, is this the type of "church" you want to be a part of?