Topic #2 – Racism

Posted: December 3, 2007 in culture

Let me say two things to start. 1) I do not consider myself racist. A person is a person. A bad person is a bad person, regardless of color or culture. A good person is a good person, regardless of color or culture. 2) I do not believe racism will ever be eliminated – or for that matter, really even “reduced” – in our nation in my lifetime. It’s an attitude that has simmered and boiled for many decades, and I believe will be invariably impossible to overcome.

I almost think racism needs a new name. When I say the word, I immediately think “whites who are prejudice against blacks, or vice versa.” But it’s much more than that. Racism involved whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, middle easterners, and anyone else in between. I believe whites can have racist attitudes toward other whites. If a button-uped, upper class white sees a 20 year old in public with baggy pants, a vulgar oversized shirt, and a backwards cap, and thinks “what a punk”, does he really care if the 20 year old guy is white or black?

Our nation is polarizing itself in many ways – political affiliation, christians/non christian, rich/poor, city/urban, and definitely by race/culture. We’ve become intolerant of almost anything or anyone who is not like us, does not believe like we do, or think like we do. It’s been reported that more than ever, Democrats are moving to democratic areas and Republicans are moving to republican areas. Most of us in the church have heard the stat that within a few years of becoming a saved Christian, you have basically no more friends who are NOT believers. City people believe rural dwellers are all red-necked, slack jawed, dumb, calloused, ignorant nobodies who drive 20 year old trucks and can’t speak right. Country folks think city people are high fallutin’, liberal, egotistical, arrogant jerks who will never understand the meaning of a hard day’s work nor the enjoyment of a quiet life.

Is this not all, in some way, racism? Hence the reason I think the term needs revisiting. And I realize that in many cases, I’m as guilty as the next person as “judging a book by its cover”, and I do not like that I do it. There’s so much to be learned from others, regardless of their social status, color, or position in life. I’ve been friends with blacks and hispanics. I spent several months a few years ago working with a group of Korean men who were unbelievably hard working, kind, humble, frugal, persistant, and often very funny. I’ve experienced friendship with white people who were a few economic levels above me, and I’ve had a long time friendship with a guy so country I can barely understand what he’s saying when we talk on the phone. (If by some chance he’s reading this, I meant that in the most complimentary way!)

The point is, ultimately, people are people. I have no answers or suggestions on this topic. It’s just something I think about regularly. Having the mind of Christ involves seeing a person for who they can be, in addition to who they are. His involvement with Samaritans was not much different than if I became poker-playing-buddies with a bunch of drug dealing hoodlems from downtown Knoxville. At least it wouldn’t be looked upon much differently. Yet He did it, and I can hardly see myself doing it. Which is just one reason why Jesus is so incredible. In His heart, He never experienced racism. He never judged by color or position. He never avoided someone because of how they looked, walked, dressed, or even smelled. He knew that people were simply people in need of something greater than themselves. He knew that I was someone in need of something bigger than myself. He knew that you were someone in need of something bigger than yourself. God, open our eyes, help us see people the way you did.

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