Racism. It’s still there. Sometimes it feels like we pretend it doesn’t exist but it does. It affects the way we look at people. It affects the way we treat people. It affects the way we talk about people. But it’s not something we address openly and honestly until something blows up and then everything is chaos and then all hell breaks loose.
No, I’m not even writing this in response to the Paula Deen debacle, though it certainly seems to fit.
Paula Deen’s situation reminds us that, no matter how far we have come, we are a people that draw lines of distinction based on race and heritage. Sometimes those lines of distinction are good and result in a renewed sense of pride and family background. I applaud people who utilize websites like ancestry.com or 23andme.com in an effort to know and appreciate their genetics and history. Knowing from where we come and from whom we come goes a long way in helping us create a personal sense of identity.
In regards to the words we use to define ethnicity, I do believe and emphatically suggest that we call people what THEY desire to be called, not what we think they should be called. I am Anglo-European. Let’s be totally honest, I’m Scottish on one side and Irish on the other. I’m white. A honkey. But I’m married to a brown-skinned woman. It doesn’t matter what language was used around me growing up, she deserves to be identified in the way she chooses; Black, African-American, Negro, or even colored (which is how some of my wife’s older relatives still refer to themselves). Anything less is disrespect towards her AS A PERSON. It doesn’t matter where people come from – call them what they desire to be called.
This was part of Paula Deen’s problem. As an older white woman from the south, she probably grew up with some choice descriptors for brown-skinned people. And let’s be honest – it’s hard to break free from the language and images that were around during our formative years. It really takes a lot to move beyond how we were raised.
This is not to excuse something she might have said nearly 30 years ago, but it does help to understand where she is coming from and how she is wired. But this is a great illustration of the problem. Racism exists still. Many people don’t even realize that their behavior is racist – and that’s just wrong. It’s when you hear someone telling a story about someone else and they just “happen” to throw in the description of ethnicity.
“I was help up at knifepoint by this wild-eyed Mexican guy…”
“I was cut off by this black lady…”
We are racist every time we feel a need to describe ethnicity. Does it matter what race the thief was? Does it matter what race the crazy driver was? It adds nothing to the story except for the racist subtext you want to convey to your audience. We are racist every time we alter our behavior because of or around someone of different ethnicity. We are racist, and I don’t mean “we” as in “European-Americans like me.” Humanity is racist – we divide along ethnic lines.
Yet there is supposed to be a kinship that supersedes ethnicity. The bible says that we share a new family through our faith that moves us beyond all titles, descriptions, and subtext. It is no longer white, black, Hispanic, Asian, whatever-mix-you-want-to-be…. We shed all of that with one new title: CHRISTIAN.
This new title is supposed to characterize all we say and do. It’s supposed to saturate us and flow out of every pore. It’s supposed to take the old way of thinking about things and people and replace it with God’s way of viewing things and people.
Yep – we’re a racist planet. And we always will be as long as we hold to our ethnic identities over and above our spiritual identities. So, Christian, it’s time to grow. It’s time to change. It’s time to let stop identifying yourself by your race and to start identifying yourself by your faith.
Who are you?
My name is Chris. I’m
8 Replies to “America: Still Racist After all These Years”
Whenever I say “Mexican, black, Asian, whatever…heavy, thin, etc.” when referring to a person it is ALWAYS descriptive n never racist, because I am not at all racist. I love ALL people. The only reason I think “white” isn’t used as often descriptively is because where I live, it’s not descriptive enough, not distinguishing enough. But to me, it’s a description, referring to the one who is black, white, Asian or whatever is no different from referring to the one with red hair or the blond or the tall or short person. Sometimes people need to stop the hypersensitivity and let God be the judge of intentions!!
I understand what you’re saying, but think about the need for description. Unless you’re filling out a police report, why is there any need to describe the race of anyone?
I’ve heard white “Christian” people talk about getting in a car accident: “This black guy ran into me…” Yes, they are being descriptive, but the description really serves to send additional, unspoken judgments.
Does it matter if the guy was black, white, Latino, Asian? It perpetuates the us vs. them racist mentality in our nation.
I love this! I always think when people are talking to me and say a black guy was the cashier who waited on me, I never hear anyone say oh this white guy was the cashier, etc. Very good point!
Thx for the affirmation 🙂
Maybe it’s because where you work you don’t have many black cashiers? I’d say it’s merely descriptive. The customer can’t remember the name on the cashier’s shirt and reaches for a way to identify the person. Maybe they wanted to tell u that cashier did a great job! (Not likely! Sadly, but good for company feedback, customers r quicker to complain. So if a negative comment re their service follows r u going to judge them as racist? Oh, please.)