Almost every week I am put in an impossible position. Most Sundays, I’m given a platform for which I am entirely unqualified. This is the way I feel when tasked to present a clear and compelling message in front of a crowd giving me their mostly undivided attention; which in itself is a rare gift in our over-distracted and entertainment-seeking society. There are less and less environments in which people will willfully sit and listen to an individual speak for an extended period of time. I try not to take this for granted.
This past Sunday, I felt especially inadequate to share the message that I believed was the right message for the moment. The topic of this particular message is always a touchy subject that instantly elicits passion and a range of emotions within each of us.
Despite the strides our society has made in the journey toward acceptance and tolerance, I continue to read stories like those of Jacob Edwards and hear reports on NPR of racial slurs being yelled at minority Major League Baseball players throughout the country. On one hand, as an older Millennial, it’s hard to believe that this kind of behavior still goes on. On the other hand, however, I totally get it…
…because I am racist.
More than likely, you are racist. Of course your first response to that is, “I’m not racist!” Before you defend yourself out of fear that reparations and repentance will be demanded of you immediately if you agree, hear me out…
To be reared in a racist society and not be racist is impossible. Notice the lack of an “a” prior to the word racist. I’m using an adjective to describe each of us…not a noun. We are all products of our environment and our environment has a racist history. Whether certain ways of viewing people groups who are other have been intentionally taught or unknowingly caught, we all carry prejudices. Those who look different. Those who speak, think, and believe differently. Those who have means or those who have not. Just the thought of a conceptualized them calls forth certain thoughts and feelings.
Segregation in our society is something we all feel. We go through our lives still seeing segregated lunch tables, driving by those neighborhoods, watching people come out of churches. It’s a tension we feel in our society. What do we do? Ignore it? Do we just start walking around those neighborhoods and churches? Sitting at those lunch tables? If we do, is it just to assuage some kind of guilt I feel, but am too scared to admit? Man, human nature is a beast.
Segregation may not be legislated today, however, there are deep-seeded prejudices that have led to it. We can pretend like the ways we divide ourselves are voluntary but most of us who are at all thoughtful and discerning can agree this is certainly not how it’s supposed to be.
How then do we deal with our prejudice?
I have some ideas that I will share next week…
In the meantime, how do you witness racism and other prejudices in our society today? Are you aware of your own thoughts and feelings toward those who are different?