July 7, 2016 by cbbeard
Please Note: This post was written before the tragedies of Dallas unfolded. For my continued thoughts in light of that event, click HERE.
I am deeply troubled. I am troubled by statistics that show that an unarmed black man is 700% more likely to be shot by police than an unarmed white man. I am troubled that my 17 year old white son is inherently safer during a traffic stop than someone else’s 17 year old black son. I am troubled by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. But I think I am most troubled by the reaction or lack thereof from people who identify themselves as Christ followers, particularly those who are white. I am troubled that the typical response of white Christians to racial tension and tragedies like those that have occurred in the last 48 hours is “I’m not racist” rather than “we HAVE to do something.”
It’s time we called a spade a spade. Prejudice and racism with plausible deniability is still racism. And based on some of the reaction I’ve seen on social media and in the news, it seems that we might need a little help identifying what are racist tendencies. So I present to you, “You might be a racist..” Please note that this list and post is not meant for any specific person, but a general response to the milieu we find ourselves in. But, as my high school science teacher used to say, “If the shoe fits, wear it. If it’s pinching your toe, I’m talking to you!”
- If you hate people of another skin color, you might be a racist.
- If you systematically plot the demise of others based on race, you might be a racist.
- If you are a member of an organization whose mission is to eliminate or persecute a certain people group, you might be a racist.
- If you use racial slurs freely in public situations, you might be a racist.
- If you use racial slurs privately in your own home, you might be a racist.
- If you connect certain behaviors and/or stereotypes to people of a certain skin color, you might be racist.
- If you tell jokes using racial stereotypes, you might be racist.
- If you prefer not to go to “that part of town” or to “that park” or be a part of “that school system,” you might be racist.
- If you secretly (or not so secretly) fear that your son or daughter might befriend or date a person of another race, you might be a racist.
- If you think “Civil Rights” is an issue of the past, you might be racist.
- If you think racism is not a problem in America today, you might be a racist.
- If you think the Confederate flag is a harmless historical artifact and don’t acknowledge that it is offensive and hurtful to many people in this country, you might be a racist.
- If you don’t care that something is offensive and hurtful to a people group, you might be a racist.
- If you are white and don’t acknowledge that your black counterpart experiences hardship in this country due to prejudice, you might be a racist.
- If you dispute that there is systemic problem in our country that uniquely affects African Americans, you might be a racist.
- If you are outraged that Hillary Clinton eluded criminal charges for her “abuses of power” but are not equally outraged by unjustified use of deadly force by police, you might be a racist.
- If your first instinct is to say “yeah but” when news of a black man getting shot and killed by police breaks, you might be a racist.
- If you instantly and consistently defend all police when deadly force is used on a black person, you might be a racist.
- If you point to a “prior record” of a black person to justify police using deadly force, you might be a racist.
- If you think that unarmed black men are %700 percent more likely to be shot by police than unarmed white men because of a “culture of violence,” you might be a racist.
- If you are a Christian and your response to the troubling racial context and wounds of this country is not “we HAVE to do something about this” but rather “I’m not racist, it’s not my fault” you may, indeed, be a racist.
I fully acknowledge that the issue of race and racism is a complex issue in our country. I fully acknowledge that this is a broken world and that people of all races have the symptoms of our brokenness. I fully acknowledge that police have a tough job and that not all deadly uses of force are racially charged. I fully acknowledge that while there are bad cops out there, there are good ones as well…just as there are bad and good doctors, lawyers, teachers, and government officials. I fully acknowledge that there are legitimate “bad guys” out there, of all races.
But what I refuse to acknowledge is a fairy-tale perspective that ignores the truths of our history and current cultural context in regards to race. We as Christ followers MUST acknowledge that God absolutely DESPISES racism. And we must do something about it, starting with our very own hearts. Like David prayed in Psalm 139, we must beg God to search us and know our hearts and expose the depths of who we are so that we can be transformed to be more like Christ. We must ask ourselves, “do I see people the way Jesus did?” and if not, adjust accordingly. And we as Christians must stand up and be a light in this darkness. As my friend Tom Fodi wrote:
I’m a pastor. As a pastor, I am calling on our churches to rise up with the prophetic voice that God has given us. It was largely because of the church’s prophetic voice that slavery came to an end. It was largely because of the church’s prophetic voice that institutional and legally protected racism and segregation came to an end. Now, we have an opportunity, no, the responsibility, to use our prophetic voice again and demand justice and equal treatment under the law regardless of race, position, or perceived authority. Rise up church! It’s time to take on the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s time to stand before the elite, the powerful, the authorities, and demand change. No matter the cost, even if they must crucify us, this is our calling. Rise up!
May we repent of our racist tendencies, be they overt or hidden. And may we repent of our indifference and inactivity, and live out the Kingdom of the King we profess.
As the late Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”