Is Everyone a Racist?
Our Culture Almost Forces Racism
Is everyone a racist? Sometimes I believe we all are—no matter what our color or culture. It seems like we are pressed to racism. If you disagree, please consider my three reasons below.
But first, let me clarify that I do not believe it is right to be racist! Read my article on 3 Biblical Reasons Why Racism is Sinful and Silly to see why.
1. Even "us" and "them" differentiation is racist.
To be entirely nonracist would mean not seeing things as "them" and "us." Young children don’t, and this innocence is part of what we love about them—they don't seem to notice differences. People are just people to them. Kids don't see any racial distinctions until someone teaches them to think otherwise.
Our society seems absorbed and almost crazed in segmenting by race, especially recently. If you watch any news, you are virtually forced to see the world in racial categories and separations. You're prompted to make judgments about which side is right and which is wrong. I find it bothersome and frustrating.
To be entirely nonracist would be to think of people as “just people,” instead of racial divisions. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
2. We are pushed by our culture to choose racial sides.
Not only are we forced to notice racial distinctions, but our society also forces us to categorize and divide.
Are you "for" black lives matter?
Do you sympathize with Antifa?
Do you want to defund the police?
Do you support the police?
Will you apologize for your "whiteness?"
Do you support first nation/native American causes?
Do you support reparations for those who have been oppressed?
And on it goes.
If we don't say the right things and send the right signals that we support politically correct issues, we're not "woke" and labeled racists. So, we're virtually forced to choose sides.
In fact, I care very deeply about racial injustice. I just prefer not to be constantly choosing sides. I appreciate very much what Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac did in not allowing himself to be forced into choosing a side. It took tremendous courage. You can read about what he did and why he did it in this article: Lone NBA Player Refuses To Kneel: Doesn't Wear BLM Shirt, Gives Perfect Response to Critics
And I agree with Martin Luther King Jr., who said,
"I don't see the answer to our problem in riots. So my slogan is not 'burn, baby, burn.' My slogan is 'Build, baby, build' and 'organize, baby, organize."
3. Everyone has a sinful nature.
The third reason I think all people are racist, at least to some degree, is because of our fallen nature. The Bible says, "For all have sinned…" (Romans 3:23a) We all have sinful hearts. As a result, we cannot help being somewhat racist by preferring our own racial customs and norms, resenting other’s practices, and sometimes trying to take advantage of racial distinctions.
To this end, our racism is expressed in subtle ways:
We think the way "we" do things makes more sense than they way “they” do it. We think or even say, "I don't understand why they do it that way. That's dumb." Swedes, for example, might say this about Norwegians.
Politicians try to win our votes based on racist positions: pro-white, pro-black, pro-brown, etc. "Vote for me, I'm the _____________ (pro-black, pro-white, pro-brown, etc.) candidate."
We are inclined to judge people positively or negatively based on their race. “He’s one of those talented ____________ [fill in a race] people.”
Some are even racist in that they resent their own race for being ___________________ [fill in the blank with your race’s shortcoming/s]
So, I admit I am a sinner and therefore tempted to be racist, and sometimes I fail. Can you admit the same? Some people, of course, are mildly racist. Others are more racist. And sadly, some are extraordinarily racist. But I believe that we cannot completely avoid some racist tendencies, no matter who we are and what race we represent.
The only perfectly nonracist person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. Everyone else differentiates, but Jesus did not. His stunning parable of the Good Samaritan taught a total disruption of racist distinctions and bias. Jews and Samaritans hated each other based on their race. But the hero of Jesus' story was the despised minority-race Samaritan, who ignored racial distinction and cared for the wounded Jewish man by the road.
Have I convinced you that everyone is a racist to some extent? If not, here's the problem: you are a racist!
I'm joking, but not entirely.
One of the best ways to expand our understanding is to learn other’s perspectives by reading a book like Same Kind of Different as Me or watching the movie with the same title. Carolyn and I thoroughly enjoyed both the heartwarming and eye-opening book and movie.
We also read the riveting story of a white supremacist who despised Jews and blacks. He became quite violent, and the police caught him trying to plant a bomb at the home of a Jewish attorney. They shot him point-blank twice, doubtless hoping to kill him, but he miraculously survived, while a single bullet killed his accomplice.
In prison, he read a Gideon Bible, became born again, and was gloriously changed from a raging racist to a Christian who loves ALL people. After release from prison, he became a pastor in a multi-racial church!
His autobiography is called Consumed by Hate, Redeemed by Love: How a Violent Klansman Became a Champion of Racial Reconciliation, by Thomas A. Tarrants. It is a page-turner I very highly recommend!
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Podcast: Are all Sins Equal?
Video vlog: Have You Been Pecked At?