A week after a huge civil rights march in Jena, LA, Mychal Bell walked out of prison. District Attorney Reed Walters speaking with the press and asking to be quoted, said,
“Had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened”
“What I’m saying is that the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people and they responded accordingly”
Certainly, most of us believe that what he was saying was that Jesus kept the huge frightening mob quiet and peaceful. These “terrible invaders” coming into a quiet, peaceful, God-fearing town could have stirred up a whole lot of trouble. He knows what they can be like. He saw absolutely nothing wrong with his comments. (Head shaking now)
But there is another possibility.
Maybe Walters was saying that there are so many overtly racist people in town that it was only by the direct intervention of Jesus Christ that some of them didn’t go and do something really stupid to provoke a planned peaceful demonstration into a whole lot of trouble. Some townsfolk tried. A group of teens reportedly drove by demonstrators leaving Jena last week, shouting racial epitaphs and holding nooses in their hands.
But alas, that would be giving him too much credit. The context of the interview was clear. Walters was afraid. He wasn’t on the side of power anymore. For those accustomed to being in power, being out of power is a very frightening thing.
Science Daily is reporting a study in an article titled “Racism’s Cognitive Toll: Subtle Discrimination Is More Taxing On The Brain” which suggests that the multiple ambiguous racist messages encountered by minority groups routinely, significantly damage one’s cognitive ability. The ambiguous racist messages are those that non-minority groups don’t necessarily notice, or those which non-minority groups think should have no impact. It is those things which become part of the “normal background noise” and might even pass as acceptable behavoir. This is about power too. Those who are in positions of power and influence work to keep it. We’ve just described “institutional racism.”
Am I racist? I think we, and I have to accept the label. I’m working hard to eliminate it in my life. Being able to see the so-called “ambiguous racism” in and around me and calling it what it is begins the healing.