This is part of the series, Your Voice on Racism. Do you have a story to share? We need to hear it! Consider submitting it here!
I grew up with this great guy. I’d come home and find him and my brother blowing bubbles in their drinks for, like, an hour (trying to learn to circular breathe, of course). He was my friend, but he was my older brother’s friend. Yes. THAT friend. The one you almost crush on, but not exactly.
He kinda lurks in the background of so many good memories. And then there are the obvious ones: Playing Adam & Eve in space-outfits and tutus, dancing in Mexico. The countless jam-sessions with every instrument imaginable (think trash cans), hiding in apocalyptic underground forts, and teaching him my made-up spy language, Willy-wog. Annoyingly, Josh Dailey was super funny, the best singer EVER, a hipster of the 90’s, totally arrogant and he made all the girls swoon- especially the lucky lady who became his wife (luckily for him). But despite his irksomeness, he was also teachable, loving, a role-model to all of us, and truly desired to love God and others.
Then, at some point, he grew-up and moved away. These days our friendship is mostly on Facebook. That is where I found these world-changing questions on racism which he is letting me share here to challenge us. So do read.
A White Man’s Confession
Why, when a minority is oppressed, is our first response to convince the oppressed “I am not like that”?
Why, when our brother is treated unjustly, is our first response to defend the actions of our privileged brother by reminding the attacked that “the majority of us are not that way”?
Why, when someone that is created in the image of God is judged by the color of their skin, and defends themselves, do we remind them of the great strides we have taken as a nation to recognize all people as equal?
Why is our first response to injustice not to defend the attacked, so they don’t have to?
Why do we justify our racial slurs behind closed doors with, “. . . I have black friends!”?
(When was the last time you had those friends in your home for a meal and discussed the implications of living as a minority?)
Why can we not defend, without turning to our brothers, expecting their praise. . . like we did something that should be honored and not expected?
Why are the only minority leaders viewed from the pulpits of white churches the “whitest black person we know”?
Why does our posture shift from welcoming, to skeptical, when a minority walks into “our” church?
Why do we feel it is more important to prove we are not racist with words and not with actions?
Can we act on behalf of people, just because they are people . . . and not for our own gain?
These are questions I’ve been challenged by myself. Not just when he posted them, but over the years. I remember being horrified once, when, in an honest moment, I began to recognize I was racist. I mean, I come for a background in anthropology, sociology, all the freakin’ologies. They might explain why we do this- we naturally stereotype to help process our world. We are naturally afraid of what is “different,” which is a root cause of racism.
But nothing, no science of the “why” can explain away the injustice, and more specifically, our deviation from God’s love.
One thing I’ve noticed since moving to the East Coast from the West, is that racism is still very much alive. Years ago I was in a small group with a guy from the South who would just say things. Say very racist things. Not even jokingly. Not laughingly. He was a legit ‘racist’ but claimed to have God’s love in him. This blew my mind because it was so obviously not okay, but I don’t think he even realized it.
Goes to show that as humans, we usually don’t recognize our own screwed-up-ness. I might not have noticed racism when growing-up, but it was still there, even if it might not have been so blatant. Because, as is generally the case, rooted deep in our natural state lurks the sin (oh yes, I said SIN) that we are given a chance to be healed from.
This very bad internal root (think radish but even more disgusting) makes us think we are better than others. Or it keeps us from loving others. It keeps us scared. It keeps us divided. At minimum, it causes confusion and hurt. At large, it has caused whole people groups to be wiped out in genocide (like what is happening in Sudan or Burma today).
I read this ancient passage the other day, with words that are still so revolutionary:
“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Colossians 3:11
And then this one:
And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28
In the 1 John, it talks a ton about what is love, who is love, why is love. Love, love, love. All you need is love- and pretty much we can’t claim to love God if we don’t love others.
I mean, I am no idiot. I know that truly loving people, let alone removing boundaries and dissolving racism is no easy task. In fact, it is rather impossible. But I follow a master over the impossible.
Like my friend Josh’s challenged me, I too challenge you. Look at his above questions again. Which one stood out to you? That one? Okay. Ask for forgiveness for where you are unjust and dare I say it- racist. And then choose a next step to move on from there, changing yourself.
World changers we will be, if we truly love one another without any regard to ethnicity, culture and race.
What is your next step?
Let me know what yours is in the comments below!
For me, I am going to invite someone whom I usually wouldn’t hang with, of a different ethnicity, for dinner.