Positional Power: The Solution to Racial Inequality

A 10|100 supporter came to me with the following polarizing question. The answer to which, I believe, could be a solution to how minorities overcome racial inequality:

Photo Credit: Louis Moncouyoux
We are considering hiring a new associate pastor.  One church elder wants it to be a black-hire so racial reconciliation becomes an out-growth of the gospel.  We have 5 elders.  One is asian, 3 are white, and 1 is bi-racial (latino/white).  We have about sixty parishioners who are mostly white, one black family, and our worship leader is actually bi-racial (black/white).  I am not naïve to think we’re the model of ethnic diversity, but we have people of color in prominent leadership roles. The elder doesn’t just prefer the new pastor to be a black hire… he won’t hire anyone white.  He insists we should search and pass-over any candidate that’s not black until we find a qualified black candidate.
We sincerely want to be God’s instrument to bring about social justice in all its forms, but we’re not all in agreement as to the particular application of that desire in this situation. 
How should we approach this?”

What the elder is talking about speaks to positional power, which is a really important aspect of righting racial disparity. Positional power is probably a stronger modern tool than affirmative action policy.

Positional power is demonstrated when minorities aren’t just included in the body, but have leadership responsibility. When this occurs, they have the ability to impact systemic change for the community.
Photo Credit: Andres Ronnigen
I met with the CEO of a 1500 employee company the other week. He’s latino. He mentioned that when he became CEO, he looked at the company’s distribution of $2.5M in annual charitable giving. Out of that, $90k went to black groups, $10k went to latino groups, and $2,500 went to asian groups. The rest went to predominantly white groups. Now, there was nothing wrong with their strategy before, but he tweaked it a bit to represent the population distribution within their service areas. For example, if African American’s are 10% of the population in Indiana, worthy causes should receive $250k a year in gifts. Emphasis on worthy.
What kind of impact does that simple change have?
If the latino employee had been hired as a layman, that kind of change would not have been made. Since he was in a place of positional power, he could impact entire communities instead of just his household.
The same concept applies in politics. When voters have candidates to choose from who reflect a diversity of backgrounds, those candidates can create change once elected.
The church elder may be on the right track. Leaders who have inclusion at the forefront of their minds can lead racial reconciliation in a way that no one else can.  He may consider looking at candidates of all racial backgrounds, and include a rubric that was weighted in favor of a candidate with diverse ethnicity.
What do you think of this approach?