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