Things Black parents most often tell their kids at church
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Man, I’m glad we all didn’t go to the same church when we were younger. Y’all were some bad kids. And this isn’t my opinion. I’m basing this assessment on the comments y’all shared when we asked you, the community, for the “Things Black parents most often tell their kids at church.” There were so many responses that I had to break them up into 14 different topics. Lord have mercy, y’all were bad!

But truth be told, when I was a young’un growing up in Sunnyside’s Blueridge United Methodist Church, Norma Jean and Carstell Walker Jr. had to tell me most of these same things far too often.

And here they are.

PAY ATTENTION

  • Wake up. (Italo Bugat, Abayomi Allen)
  • Put that phone down. (Italo Bugat)
  • Pay attention. (Z Niyonu Namibia)
  • Turn around and stop starin’ at people! (Mary Abdul-Nur)

ADJUST YOUR VOLUME

  • Stop talking. (Michael Anthony Thomas)
  • Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (Imani Karega, Carolyn Murry, Chipo Nkhensani Charlotte-Marie Callins)
  • Hush. (Barbara Yaminah Miller, Dr. Alexia McClerkin-Johnson, Darla Broden)

NON-VERBAL

  • Not a word! It was just a look. Periot. (Oncle Otis Ross)
  • A look or a pinch. (Barbara Yaminah Miller)
  • When they give you that look with their eyes, they didn’t have to say nothing. You sat still and quiet. (Andrea Moore)
  • “Be still” the first time. The look is next, depending on the parent and child. There is no third time. (Michael Edward Taylor)
  • That look… words came later. (Rev. Gary Bennett)
  • This, when you talking or cuttin’ up in church! [see below] (Jeremy Smith)
Samuel Jackson in Black Snake Moan. Paramount Pictures.

MOVEMENT

  • Sit still. (Imara Hyman, Retired Judge Cynthia D. Stephens, Dr. Alexia McClerkin-Johnson)
  • Turn around. (Inspire Dream)
  • Sit up. (Kam Thomas)
  • Leave that Bible alone. (Dr. Alexia McClerkin-Johnson)
  • Sit back and be quiet. (Tracy Owens)
  • Put that down! (Denise Bates)

FOOD/SNACKS

  • You not taking all them snacks in church. (Kam Thomas)
  • I don’t have any candy. (Akachi Azubike)
  • Pick that candy wrapper up off the floor! (Juanita Braceful)
  • Don’t put that candy wrapper in there. (Juanita Braceful)
  • Take one cracker/communion wafer, no more. (NyNye Jael Onyemachi)
  • Spit that gum out. (Ethea Farahkhan)

CHURCH SPEAK

  • Sang baby. (Rev. Dr. Earle J. Fisher)
  • Let Him use you! (Dr. Angela Anderson)
  • [When you’re singing a solo and mess up] Take ya time. (PW Way)

TITHES

  • That money is for tithes only. (Kam Thomas)
  • Put all the money/change in church. (Imara Hyman, Darla Broden)

OLD SCHOOL CHURCH ETIQUETTE

  • When we go in here, you better open your mouth when someone speaks to you. (Kam Thomas)
  • Spit that gum out now! (Shelly McIntosh)
  • You gon keep them shoes on till we get home; I don’t care if they are tight! (Pamela Wise Harrison)
  • [With a hand at your mouth] Give me that gum! (Vanessa Williams)

PROACTIVE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take notes. (Inspire Dream)
  • No talking, screaming, yelling or walking/running in church. (Michael Hughes)
  • Here, write on this. (Akachi Azubike)
  • I don’t care if we are late, we’re going to try to sit up front. (Akachi Azubike)
  • Don’t clown me when you say your Easter speech. (Vanessa Williams)
  • You better not embarrass me. (Wendy Lande)
  • No chewing gum… and you better not go to sleep. (Marcus Jones)

Q&A

  • Why are you laughing? (Kam Thomas)
  • Did you speak? (Pastor Keith Somerville)
  • Is that gum in yo’ mouth? (Hanifa Adjuman)
  • Did you go to confession? (Joyce Taylor ‘Karimah’ Johnson)
  • You gotta go to the bathroom again? (Colleen Kinda Carrington-Atkins)

OUTSIDE

  • Imma take you outside (Keda Post Memes)
  • Do not go outside. (Kam Thomas)
  • Y’all bet not leave and walk to the store. (Kam Thomas)

THREATS/PROMISES

  • Don’t make me come outta that choir stand. (Rhonda Skillern-Jones)
  • Show out if you want to. (Rhonda Skillern-Jones)
  • Stop! (Rev. Dr. Earle J. Fisher)
  • Don’t make me… (KP Hodges)

PARENTS WITH JOKES

  • Wake me up when he/she done. (Pastor Keith Somerville)

AFTER CHURCH, BUT STILL IN CHURCH

  • It’s going to be a while before we leave because I have to buy today’s recording. (Akachi Azubike)
  • Don’t walk across the pulpit. (Anelle Williams)
  • I need to talk to Ms. Irene first. (Akachi Azubike)