Racism in the news

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.

Pondering Pastor

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4 responses to “Racism in the news

  1. You accept the label if you want to; I choose not to bow down before the minions of ethno-guiltism. If I don’t like a person or a group of people who exhibit similar behaviors that I find offensive, I don’t believe that makes me a racist.

  2. I looked at your site, and what you describe as “guiltism” (http://blog.jonolan.net/ethics/the-8th-deadly-sin/). I’m not posting here about a sin of a society being taken on by individuals. I’m talking about individual sins that are often invisible to the person committing them because they are so ingrained and part of our cultural learning. Just because one can justify racist attitudes doesn’t mean that one is not racist. Walters would not call himself racist. It is clear to outsiders. To name and own the sin is to begin the healing. To deny the sin is to make it more deeply ingrained.
    Pondering Pastor

  3. OK, our first point of difference:

    I’m talking about individual sins that are often invisible to the person committing them because they are so ingrained and part of our cultural learning

    If a person has no knowledge of committing a sin, have they even sinned?

    Our second point of difference is more vague since I don’t know you or your behaviors, but I doubt that I would find you racist. You can dislike a group of people because of culture and/or shared behaviors that you find reprehensible without being racist. If you apply the same dislike to all members of that race whether they exhibit those behaviors or not, then I would call you racist.

    I think you’re inventing a burden of sin to carry.

  4. Yes, even if we are not aware of sin … it is sin. A confession of sin says that “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Ignorance of sin does not excuse it. Even if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, it still makes sound.

    I doubt you would find me racist also. But I will accept the diagnosis. I simply disagree that one can dislike a group of people because of culture and/or shared behaviors that one finds reprehensible without being racist. To apply those characteristics to a group rather than to each individual separately is a definition of an “-ism.”

    We are far apart here and I know you will not convince me otherwise.
    Pondering Pastor

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