We are all racists now

images

This was not an easy post to write. Or to read. The title alone is a problem, as of course we are not ALL racists!  Or are we? But I worded it that way on purpose, because the common human condition is to accuse always the other of being a racist, and not ourselves. Racism is an ugly word, and to accuse someone of being a racist is one of the ugliest attacks we can make. But to be self-aware, and I believe self-awareness to be one of the most important traits of a human being, is to recognize how prevalent racism is. Including within us. Within me.

A recent poll in the United States found that 50% of Americans believe their society is significantly racist. And what did the other half think? That they were not the racist half, and the other half was. Racism is a condition where you believe that the other has qualities that render them inferior, to yourself of course. It is a condition that is automatically blinding, the greatest racists don’t think they are. Closely connected is the idea of ethno-centrism, where a whole people group or nation believes they are the center of the world, the center of global historical narrative.

Racism is not the special problem of any one nation, but is present in every nation, in every human heart in some form. It takes deep self-awareness of the problem and a personal continual conversion to ferret it out. Sadly it is also present in many religious institutions, in many devoted followers of Jesus or Buddha or others. I see it in my own heart, and want to hate it deeply when I do. I was taught in my educational system to believe that my nation was the best in all of human history, the center of the world. But when I went to India in 1982 and found out that not everyone loved my country, it required some re-imagining and has ever since.

But it is not just the United States that has a major problem with racism. It takes different forms in many other nations as well. In India, where caste is one of the most pernicious forms of racism, those that are dark-skinned are virtually never featured in advertisements or in the movie and TV industry. Recently I started again looking at as many advertisements in India as I could, and could hardly ever see one with someone who was not “wheatish” complexioned. There are even facial cream advertisements, where you can buy a cream to make your skin “fairer”.

Recently an actress in Bollywood named Shriya Saran weighed in on the ads endorsing these creams. She was responding to a social media post by Abhay Deol, who decried campaigns by celebrities who endorsed these facial creams as “demeaning, false and racist.” A debate continues to go on in India about skin colors and the racism involved. Ms. Saran writes in a recent article in the newspaper The Asian Age, “To be honest, I think it’s a fair argument to ask actors not to endorse fairness products. We don’t need to be fair (light-complexioned) in this country, and there’s a whole lot of madness about being fair. Many advertisements are projected in a manner that if you aren’t fair, you don’t get married–and when you get fairer with the creams, you do! I think that’s a little troubling. There are also films that I’m not proud of… but there are two ads that I’ve done that I’m particularly unhappy with. I once endorsed Fair and Lovely and then Coca-Cola.”

That is rare self-awareness and candor in an actress from any nation. Racism affects us all, everywhere. It can be over skin color, over educational accomplishments, over our religious faith or lack thereof, over our nation as opposed to another. The list goes on and on. A radical conversion is needed in our hearts, a radical commitment to not just go on with business as usual. A radical self-awareness to see what is inside our own hearts and inside our neighborhoods and societies. There is a very important word in all this, the word repentance. It means to turn in another direction, to turn away from the racism in our hearts and nation and turn towards the other.

Yes, this is not a happy post. But these are not happy times. And to find true joy in the midst of unhappy times is to walk in the repentance of a heart self-aware to its own areas of pride and racism. Yes, I am a racist in my own heart. But I want to change. Please help me, please help my community, please help my nation.

5 thoughts on “We are all racists now

  1. Thanks Steve for this shot across the bow for each and every one of us. Whether being judged by society and our peers as being racist or seemingly the opposite, all our hearts have such insidious capacity. Only God’s love, that encompasses the globe from one point and around again in every direction, and rifles the hearts of everyone of us that He loves perfectly, will work to put us on that Emmaus road with Him again and again- until we recognize His face in that of the other. Kyrie Eleison.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s good to be challenged on these things. It is easy to be self satisfied that “I am not racist.” Then one finds one’s self reacting to a news feature with “Well of course THEY tend to be like that”. It is hard to know the difference between recognition of cultural customs and trends v the basic assumption that “that is what THEY do.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Steve, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Before I share my thoughts, can I firstly thank you and congratulate for your commitment to stand against racism?

    Secondly, with all due respect, I feel troubled when I read this article – not because of your intentions which seem to be good- but because the whole concept of race and the preoccupation with it is abhorrent and should have never existed in the minds of men in the first place. I’m sure you would agree with me about this. What’s the ultimate reason for believing racism is horrible, other than for spiritual reasons? I would argue science cannot verify the concept of race, and we should therefore certainly not encourage it. Let me help by explaining further…

    I would argue there is only one race- and that’s the human race.

    This stands for other concepts such as the debate on gender, when the conversation turns to transgenderism and 52 other genders or how many else- it simply cannot be verified. There are only really two genders i.e. male and female.

    Transgenderism or race is only a subjective concept that exists in the mind of those who claim it is something real, when it is not. And we have to be very strong about this, Steve.

    As a medical professional and scientist, how do I take these people seriously, otherwise? Do you want me to lie to children and prescribe them gender blockers? I don’t think so.

    How long is it before all of us discard this phoney concept of race and realise that we are all part of the human race?

    Are many people insecure about how they look? Sure. Are many people in this world racist? No. I highly doubt it.
    I think there are very few people in this world who are truly racist.
    Please read National Geographic’s work in the following link and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter:

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/04/race-genetics-science-africa/

    God Bless,
    Pola Ezzat from Egypt

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Pola,
      Thanks for the time you took to give comments on my post. While I would certainly agree with you about the evils of racism, and the being made in God’s image of all humans, my post was directed at different matters.
      First, I was trying to explore my own heart and responses to what is a very real putting people into categories. It may not always be helpful to recognize the sometimes artificial area as you suggest, it is still the very real experience of many around the world not just in the US. There are many forms of racism, and in my opinion it is insensitive to real people to try and say it does not exist. Slavery in many forms has really existed across history, and continues in other forms today. Discrimination and prejudice based in color as well as other areas also is real and the experience of many.
      I tend to be careful to dismiss the realities of what people experience by a technical exposition of what is race.

      Thanks again for engaging with my post.

      Like

Leave a Reply to scochrane823 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s