I Am a Racist   6 comments

I have never called someone the ‘N’ word or turned someone down for a job interview because they’re black. I would happily sit under a black pastor or live next to a black family, in fact I would welcome it.  I am open to being friends with someone of any skin color.  I don’t think I am better in anyway from someone simply because of the tint of their pigment.  So how can I be racist?  In fact, I don’t think I could be friends with a real racist, someone who sticks a confederate flag on the back window of their pickup and tells Little Sambo jokes.  If you called me a racist, I’d fight you.  I hate racism!  So how can I be a racist?
When I paint racism in its bold colors, it’s easy to exonerate myself.  Every sin has its blatant face–a conscious, intentional, flagrant show.  Pride has braggarts, anger has shouters and name-callers, impatience has shovers and elbowers.  Compared to those folks, I am a saint of humility and gentleness and patience. Pride has a thousand faces, and most of them are so well-hidden that I don’t even see my own, but failing to recognize it does not make it small or harmless.  If anything it is more dangerous.
Like other sins, racism comes in two types: open and hidden, conscious and unconscious, and the unconscious variety is no less dangerous.  The racism I hate I find in myself when I look closely enough.  I don’t want to be, I don’t intend to be, and I’m usually blind to it, but I am a racist.  Racism means to privilege my own perspective with reference to race, a cultural narcissism or self-centeredness, whether consciously or unconsciously done, and I fail regularly.  There are many ways of privileging my own view, and the most common is simply a lack of initiative or interest to understand and make room for the other’s view.  I have also discovered in myself racial paternalism, elitism, stereotyping, disinterest, criticism, pride, antagonism, disregard, suspicion, disrespect.  I have been defensive to their criticisms, dismissive of their difficulties, arrogant about my own (racially advantaged) progress, unaware of their pain and powerlessness.  Forgive me.  I have sinned against you my brothers and sisters.
I have come a long way in growing out of this racism, but I still have a long way to go. To be a better brother to the African American community, here are some things I would like to develop.  Learn to listen more carefully and humbly to what they say, especially when I have an instinctive reaction against it.  Understand their perspective more deeply and fully within its historical context.  Accept their criticism of my race, taking every occasion as an opportunity for serious self-reflection and evaluation.  Sensitize myself to their issues, concerns, struggles, perspectives, and values and let these inform my daily choices.  Identify and appreciate their unique contributions to our world.

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Posted July 23, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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6 responses to “I Am a Racist

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  1. Baby Brudder you are a wonderful man, uncommonly heroic and humble and wise and I am so proud to have you as my brother. You bring me to tears.

  2. I appreciated this reflection. So true, how we privilege and defend our own viewpoint, and don’t honor others by doing the same for them. May we be given the gift of friendships that wake us up to new ways of seeing.

  3. As always very insightful! And very challenging! But why limit it to one race? I am sure I have the same struggles with other races e.g. Latino, Indian, or Asian

    • I agree! This post was inspired by current white-black racial tensions in the U.S., but I did not refer to that directly because I’m quite deliberate in making this blog site non-political.

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