Are we born racist? I don’t think so. So what happens? How do people become racist without even realizing it? #racism #eracism #prejudice #selfcare #Christian

Are we born racist? I don’t think so. So what happens? How do people become racist without even realizing it?

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday quick write hosted by Kate Moutang. Join us each Thursday night on Twitter (#FMFParty) for fun and fellowship, then grab a pen and start writing when the prompt goes live!

Are we born racist? I don’t think so. So what happens? How do people become racist without even realizing it? #racism #eracism #prejudice #selfcare #Christian

A Shocking Interview

“You don’t consider yourself a racist,” Charles Barkley asks the white man in an interview.

“I would never say something like, ‘I don’t like black people,” the white man replied.

Charles Barkley pushed a little more, “But you don’t want me in your neighborhood?”

“Right,” his guest responded. “Because at the end of the day, racial differences cannot fundamentally be breached.”

When the clip ended, I felt a deep sense of sadness for the white man Charles Barkley interviewed. With all the racism-fueled events in the last week (the officers who killed George Floyd and the woman who harassed Christian Cooper come to mind), I started feeling pretty self-satisfied with my journey to eracism.

How could an erudite, educated person spout such nonsense on national television (the interview aired three years ago on TNT after the NBA playoffs)? But before I examine the mote in someone else’s eye, I should probably tend to the plank in my own.

Examining the plank in my own eyes over the past few years has shown me I suffer from racism, too. I wasn’t born racist, I just grew up in a white family. As a youngster, I heard my grandpa (who had lived all over the South) declare that he liked black people. Then he would add with a guffaw, “Everyone ought to own one.”

My good, kind, Christian grandpa, born in an era of systemic racism in a stronghold of racism couldn’t help turning into a racist. A nice Christian racist, at that.

The term ‘Christian racist’ sounds like an oxymoron, but unfortunately, it’s the gospel truth. Racists are made, not born. The disciples struggled with racism against the Samaritans.

The term 'Christian racist' sounds like an oxymoron, but it's the gospel truth. But we can change. We can resist. #racism #fmfparty Click To Tweet

Early Christians struggled with racism against Greeks and Romans. They couldn’t avoid turning into the products of the society they lived in.

Jesus Was Born into a Racist Society, Too

But Jesus came to show us a better way. Towards the end of his life, the Apostle Paul figured it out and boldly proclaimed,

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28

How often do we forget this? If we don’t constantly check our attitudes, our prejudices, our jokes, and our feelings, we can succumb to racism without even realizing it. The object in our eye can grow from a tiny sliver to a giant plank.

I’ve discovered that erasing the racism I’ve picked up over the years from living in a sinful world takes partnering with God. James 4:7 keeps me centered on the task at hand, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

We can all learn to see each and every human being with compassion and dignity. But it might time self-reflection and time. We can form the habit of giving respect to everyone regardless of race, religion, gender (or gender preference), skin color, or attitude. But it might take practice.

I don’t believe that ‘racial differences cannot be fundamentally breached.” On our own, maybe. But with God, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26).

Are we born racist? I don’t think so. So what happens? How do people become racist without even realizing it? #racism #eracism #prejudice #selfcare #Christian

So ask yourself, ‘Am I really free from racism?’


  1. I met a man and he was white,
    and he was sore ashamed
    that for skin colour he well might
    for bigotry be blamed.
    I met a man, his skin was dark,
    and he felt some fear
    that he could not cross whitey’s park
    for danger was too near.
    I met a man of reddish hue,
    and his face was blank,
    for those who knew him not still knew
    that ’twas Night Train he drank.
    I met a man, his skin was grey
    for he had bled out today.

  2. Thank you Anita – relevant for us all, regardless of our background – would you believe, here it is still nationalistic, welsh versus english speaking, and religious bigotry, catholic versus protestant.Focus always on the plank!

  3. oh Anita, what a beautiful and timely piece! Yes, how sad and convicting the facing of our own racism sin is and how very far most of us have to go! I grew up in the South in a Hispanic home, more than that, I grew up a sinner but in being saved by Grace I am grateful I can fall at the feet of a Savior who can redeem this heart and give me a new perspective. Little by little I, too, am growing in Christlikeness towards all people.

  4. I think, since we’re born sinners, we’re born capable of any sin. How we need God’s grace to open our eyes to all traces of it in our hearts. I grew up in a similar family. I often heard things like, “I don’t have anything against black people, ” but then the “n” word or a racist comment would follow.

    It was after years of hearing and reading about the good Samaritan and Jesus ministering to the Samaritan woman that I understood the racial enmity between the Israelites and Samaritans. Somehow that had not been taught in conjunction with those stories as I was growing up. And I thought, how have Christians missed this all these years, that part of what Jesus was dealing with and teaching against was racism? It was definitely a light bulb moment for me. And then verses like the one you mentioned reinforced that thought. We’re all made in God’s image, all the focus of His love and care. I pray God continues to work in all of us, rooting out wrong attitudes and making us more like Christ.
    Barbara Harper recently posted…End-of May ReflectionsMy Profile

  5. Powerful post today Anita! We are not born racist and if you asked me when I was younger if I was racist, I would have said no. I didn’t have a clue what the word even meant. I am still evolving when it comes to issues of race but my eyes are open and I’m not as naive as I was. I’m learning and getting involved in groups to understand all sides. Tha you for your post.

  6. You make some very powerful points here as we all look to pull out the plank. Your biblical perspective on this is exactly what we all need to consider. Any difference we can make, every small step forward, is so essential. We simply have to love one another. Praying for clarity and unity and healing for all of us. This is all so heartbreaking.
    Gwen recently posted…Born – Five Minute FridayMy Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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