Racism is this ugly part of humanity that we like to pretend doesn’t exist and try to dissociate ourselves from. But recent events in our nation reveal that it’s more prevalent than we thought, and we hold more responsibility than we like to admit.
On Saturday, August 12, white supremacist groups including the KKK and neo-Nazis gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia for a “Unite the Right” rally. They clashed with counter-protestors who had also gathered, and ended in a white nationalist driving a car into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring 19. (Read Story)
Racism is one of the worst, yet sadly most common traits of humanity
Racism is ugly. It’s a horrible stain on the history of our nation and our world. And it’s stupidly disgusting that it’s still a problem today.
It stems from human beings’ deepest needs to belong and to be valued. But that natural human desire for community gets distorted into creating enemies out of those outside of our tribe.
Sadly, this incident in Charlottesville or the racism in America isn’t anything unique. Racism exists in every country in the world. And if we’re honest with ourselves, a tint of it exists in every person, even the best of us.
We always knew that racism existed, just not this bad
Unless you live in a bubble, you’re aware that racism exists today, but maybe see it in lesser forms. Yet the events that unfolded in Charlottesville seem to be from the pre-civil rights era. As equality has gradually progressed in America and around the world, it’s shocking to see that extreme remnants of that mentality have been preserved, like people frozen in the past.
I think we’re waking up to the reality that this kind of cowardly hatred has always been there, and has begun surfacing more publicly as a result of the political climate of our country and the (lack of) leadership of our elected officials.
It’s like the disproportionate number of African Americans being harassed and killed by police – it’s always been happening, but we just now have the technology to record it more.
It’s a horrifying, embarrassing, yet hopefully enlightening realization that racism is (and has always been) alive in America.
This isn’t a political issue, it’s a basic humanity issue
It’s not complicated. Racism is evil.
Yet it’s somehow gotten wrapped up in politics.
To conservatives, don’t let extremism hijack your party
If you identify yourself as a conservative or a Republican, don’t let this define you. You have strong values of opportunity and personal liberty. Don’t forget that you were the party that abolished slavery.
Yet you’ve been hijacked by extremist groups that are driving your agenda. You’ve been labeled as the party of racism. And it’s kind of your fault.
Many of you stood by as these groups mobilized. You stayed silent as they shouted louder. You compromised yourselves and voted for your political affiliation rather than your beliefs. Because of your loyalty to party, you’ve lost the original essence of your party.
Stop trying to excuse and defend the views and actions of individuals who wear your party label. They don’t represent you, even if they hold public office and are technically the “leaders” of your party. Disown them, label their racism for the evil that it is, and take your party back.
Conservatives – when it comes to racism, have the decency, dignity, and self-respect to admit that you should have more in common with liberals than the KKK and the Nazis.
To liberals, don’t become what you despise
If you identify yourself as a liberal or Democrat, don’t fall into the hypocrisy of becoming the thing you claim to hate. You promote a message of acceptance and equality, so apply that even to your opponents.
You’ve taken the word “racism” far too lightly and applied it to every conservative and every person who disagrees with you. You’ve been painting everyone on the other side of the political line as a racist, sexist, and bigot, and wonder why they can’t agree with you.
There are a lot of conservatives who are absolutely against racism. So rather than continuing to label them as racist because of their party affiliation and further isolating them, you should be helping them to drive the filth out of their own party and out of this country.
You know how angry you get when people accuse all Muslims of being terrorists? You’re doing the exact same thing when you accuse all conservatives of being racists.
In your quest for tolerance and equality, you’ve become intolerant of opposing views and use the worst possible labels to degrade people who disagree with you on any issue. Have the humility and sensibility to know that moderate conservatives may be your best ally in dismantling the extreme right.
To Christians, stop standing on the sidelines
My faith has had a long and embarrassing history of racism and violence. From the crusades to the slave trade to missionary colonization to segregation, we’ve used the banner of Jesus to promote the very thing he hates.
For the church, racism should be simple. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor. He even tells a very specific story of racism (Good Samaritan) to make his point that everyone is our neighbor. It should be an evil that is easily opposed.
Yet because we’ve sold our souls to a political party, it becomes a political issue. From the pulpits to the pews, we’ve avoided talking about issues of race in our country because we don’t want to be ‘political.’
If we have any ounce of resemblance to Jesus, we should oppose racism with all our being. Jesus very publicly sought to break down these stereotypes in his disciples and the early church. Though we may disagree on a lot amongst ourselves, racism should be a very simple thing to be vocal about.
Church, it’s about time we broke up our sickening affair with political parties, and start aligning ourselves with the heart of God.
Are you looking for redemption or vindication?
Remember that there’s a reason people are racist. No, it’s not just because that’s who they are. It’s taught from their families, it’s been ingrained in their environment, and it’s been reaffirmed in their experiences.
It in no way excuses their decision to hate. But something that is taught can be untaught.
Would you rather push racists to an even further extreme to prove your own self-righteousness, or would you rather eliminate racism by seeing people’s hearts salvaged from hatred?
In our anger, we cannot allow our hate for evil to become a hate for people. These white supremacists are still human beings, though they may be horrible human beings. We cannot dehumanize and demonize them, or we end up corrupting and losing our own humanity.
If our message is “love not hate,” then we have to approach the worst of humanity with the best of humanity. We have to love the hate out of people. As Martin Luther King, Jr put it, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
As we attempt the long and difficult process of eradicating racism from our society, we need to be humble enough to accept that we all have a bit of racism in us, and are all responsible for allowing it to continue. But may we be bold enough oppose it in our hearts, our homes, our churches, and our communities, and be strong enough to respond with compassion and not let hate corrupt ourselves in our pursuit of justice.