What Color is Your Community?

By Rev. John Gantt  •  February 08, 2024

The theme for this series of blogs is “color.” I choose white!

But, you may ask, white isn’t really a color, is it? Seems it is more like the absence of color.

Technical definitions of white may expand our typical notions that black is the mashup of all printed colors and white is without any color. But think about these quotations:

“…White is not defined as a color because it is the sum of all possible colors. Black is not defined as a color because it is the absence of light…”

“Some consider white to be a color, because white light comprises all hues on the visible light spectrum. And many do consider black to be a color, because you combine other pigments to create it on paper. But in a technical sense, black and white are not colors, they’re shades. They augment colors. And yet they do function like colors. They evoke feelings.”

In a previous blog about color, the Rev. Ruth Fitzgerald offered this succinct definition: Color theory tells us that what we see as ‘white’ isn’t an absence of color, but rather it is what we see when all of the colors of the visible spectrum collide.”

After careful study of such definitions, I have determined that I live in a white community. Here’s why I make that claim.

Why I Consider My Community to be White

Celes (a 10-month-old cutie whose full name is Celestial) and her Vietnamese parents were previously next-door neighbors. While visiting my apartment, Celes took her first five unassisted steps, then plopped down when trying to grab the cat’s tail!

Her mother emailed one day to ask, “How does it feel to be the only white guy in the building?”

One evening, the black single mom and her rambunctious son who live directly above me, knocked on my door. Holding pizza boxes in one hand, trying to hang on to her son with the other, she pointed to a box leaning against the doorsill, and said, “This has been outside your door for a couple of days. Since you are an older person, I just wanted to be sure you are OK.” We’ve exchanged Valentine and holiday candies since then!

Another family of color and three school-age children live next door to her. Above them on the third floor are two Sikh gentlemen. My current next-door neighbor is a family of color.

When a food truck is on campus, the persons in line look like a United Nations delegation.

One afternoon, I was unloading groceries from my car trunk. That’s not such a big problem for, as you know, $50 worth of groceries barely fills the smallest shopping cart. Still the African-American truck driver who parks his vehicle near mine, stepped over and said, “Let me get those for you.” Inside the apartment he commented about my Shalom banner. We talked about how its many definitions include wholeness and peace.

A police officer of color came to inspect the hit-and-run damage to the rear of my car.

When the lady who lives a couple doors away walks her two teacup Yorkies, they yap at me. She reprimands them in a language I do not understand. She’s from South America.

Since 2016 I’ve lived in three different apartment communities. The interiors are pretty sterile looking. White walls, white trim, maybe a little cream trim here and there to create a little “interest” among the white counter tops, white cupboards, and white venetian blinds.

My Neighbors are Many Colors

More significantly, the people who live in those apartments are Arabs, Africans, Angolans, Asians, Anglos, Hispanics, Muslims, Sikhs, Indigenous persons, Caucasians, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, “spiritual but not religious”, Nones, and….more!

In these days we hear so much about “white nationalism” – a contention that the United States should be for “white folks” only. But if “white” is the presence of all colors, then white nationalism ought to be about creating a safe space for every human being!

While pondering this concept of white as all-inclusive rather than exclusive, I found this remark:

“The definition of ‘person of color’ in the 21st century has been less about skin color and more about marking those who have been affected by racism and white supremacy… Others say that a ‘person of color’ is defined simply as someone who…has physical characteristics that set them apart from (other) people.”

But it really is not “simple” at all. In last week’s blog, Lisa Thomas wrote: “ …the added stress of living as a person of color in this country is no abstract idea to me. My brown son and daughter, my black brother-in-law, my brown grandchildren and my brown nephew live daily with this added stress. There is always extra worry in the back of my mind for their safety and well-being simply because of their skin color.”

As we struggle in this nation with the rise of “nationalism,” antisemitism, and gerrymandering to disenfranchise persons of color, I pray that “white” and “nonwhite” concepts disappear, that communities which embrace all colors flourish, and that we devote every effort to securing the common good for all.

“All” is what makes the good “common,” right?

Our prayers, choices, friendships and advocacy will help us realize that vision.

Earlier in this blog I claimed that I live in a white community. As noted, color theory defines “white” as the presence of all colors. So yes, I live in a white community!


(references from Ruth Fitzgerald and Lisa Thomas used by permission)




For Reflection (either individually or with a group)

Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases.


Invite the Divine to open your heart to allow the light of new understanding to pierce the shadows of embedded assumptions, stereotypes, and ways of thinking so that you may live more abundantly. Then spend some time with the following questions together with anything or anyone who helps you reflect more deeply.


  • How do you describe the community in which you live? How open to people of other races, faiths, and backgrounds do you think your community is?
  • What do you believe is God’s vision for community?
  • We are reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of beloved community where we look, as one author wrote, beyond conflict and doubt and misgivings in the hope of trying to understand each other. What can you do today to try to better understand someone who is very different than yourself?


Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group.


Courtesy of the Parker Center for Abundant Aging, promoting the riches of Abundant Aging; advocating for an inclusive society that conquers ageism; and delivering education and resources to transform how we think about elderhood. Blog: Copyright 2024, Rev. John Gantt, All Rights Reserved. Photo designed by Freepik.


About the Author

Rev. John Gantt

Now retired, previously John served as called and interim pastor of congregations in Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Indiana. As a member of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the UCC, he served as executive director of Crossroad, formerly Fort Wayne Children’s Home in Indiana, as interim executive of Back Bay Mission, Biloxi, MS, and as interim Director of Client Services, Back Bay Mission. On three occasions, he served as interim Conference Minister in Central Pacific Conference (Oregon and southern Idaho), Indiana Kentucky Conference, and Ohio (Heartland) Conference. He was ordained in Marion, OH in 1960, two blocks from the current location of United Church Homes, Inc.

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