Innocent Racism: Sooo…Exactly What Are You?

So this week a friend send me this video to watch. I was laughing so hard I nearly died laughing.

Seriously, it was pretty bad. Fortunately my wife was able to revive me. Then I watched it again.

Have at it:

While it’s incredibly funny, the video highlights an all-too-true reality: We judge people based on external qualities and then form opinions based on those judgments. I know what you’re thinking:

“Oh boy – here we go again. Another post on race.”

Well…yes. While some deny it or try to trivialize it, the truth is that this is a common experience in the world. As husband to a mixed-race woman I’ve been there and have heard people ask:

“So…what are you?”

“Where are you from originally?”

Here’s a true story – Years ago we were interviewing for a church position. We had sent in a resume, photograph, sermon sample, etc. The search committee called me to conduct a phone interview. Over the phone one of the deacons asked, “What ethnicity is your wife?” My response? “Um, why does it matter?”

We did not end up going to that church.

Our problem is that, in these questions we pretend that we’re not racist. But we are. If we weren’t racist why would we even need to ask the question? I know,  know. You’re just curious. You just want information.


That’s the kind of question you ask when you have a real relationship with and you end up having a conversation about family trees. It’s not something you ask someone superficially.

The Apostle Paul tried to address the way we view each other and the ways those views play out in behavior. He said that there is no class distinction in Christianity. There is not race distinction in Christianity. There is no gender distinction in Christianity. In Jesus the playing field is leveled. We are no longer this or that. We simply are. When you ask a person what he is and where he comes from you are taking away his ability simply to be.

That’s not Christian. Well, I suppose it too often IS Christian.

But it’s not supposed to be…

3 Replies to “Innocent Racism: Sooo…Exactly What Are You?”

  1. I once asked a mom from my son’s preschool if she was Korean, but that’s cause I felt pretty sure she was, and having lived there 3+ years I know much about her culture (which I enjoy & respect) and was making a connection with her. We became friends. On the other hand, to ask a seemingly racist question without an attempt to make a friendly connection is, to me, pointless.


  2. Sometimes we ask where a person is from (regardless of any appearance) to start a conversation, and if we r familiar with where they r from we can make a connection by talking about it. The man in the video was a complete moron, but for a socially aware and caring inquirer, I think to ask where someone is from is an ok question. The video was more about how to be a moron rather than about what questions not to ask. Besides, when others flub in their questions, we have grace, cause we’ve all flubbed at one point or another. The lady who created this video seems ungracious then, not realizing some people are less socially aware than herself.


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