I’ll Race Ya! Part I

One week ago I completed a workshop. I, along with 40 others, gave up 2.5 days to dig into and discuss the topic of racism. I must be honest: I was not looking forward to it. First of all, it is hardly a topic to be excited about. Secondly, that much sitting and talking did not appeal to me. But truthfully, when I dig down, I was a white person thinking, “This again?”
Three times in my life (once in college and twice in the workplace) I have attended a course titled “The Institutes for Healing Racism.” I have worked in diverse workplaces and serve in a diverse church body. My children are biracial. It’s not that it’s not important to me, but I foolishly assumed that I would have nothing to gain. Again, as I expose my foolish thinking, I felt that I was a white person who “got it” already.
I’m so glad that I was wrong. The truth is that my white privilege affords me the opportunity to not give regular attention to this topic. I live in a diverse area and am hardly sheltered from the struggle, but let’s face it – I’m white. How often do I really have to think about it? One of the leaders of the workshop, on the third day, began a monologue by saying “I’m a racist child of God.” She did not say it to be flip nor was she indicating that is all of who she is. In fact, she is very active in the fight against racism. Yet she acknowledges what she has done and has been in her life because of her failure to look through that lens.
She made another comment that I needed to hear. She said, “You cannot be a non-racist. Either you are a racist or an anti-racist.” That struck home with me. Those are exactly the kind of divisive words that make us uncomfortable. We do not want to be “for” or “against;” others may not like that. Isn’t it easier to be tolerant? Can’t we just be accepting and, therefore, be accepted for our lukewarm approach?
I choose that word intentionally. If we look through Scripture, we quickly notice the language of “for” or “against.” In Luke 9:50, Jesus said, “Do not stop him…for whoever is not against you is for you.” Jesus was correcting his followers who had stopped someone from driving out demons. Their reason for doing so? “He is not one of us.” (Luke 9:49b) Interesting. Isn’t that the very mindset at the root of racism: us versus them?
It is. And we, as Christ-followers, would do well to be on the side that is against racism. That is, after all, the winning side. You cannot, as I had allowed myself to think, fall into the camp of being a “non-racist.” I don’t know what that looks like for you. I simply want to bring it to your attention. For me, I want to make this a weekly topic of conversation. I need to keep it at the forefront.
It’s not hard to find. Unfortunately it can also be easy to ignore. But let me remind you that it is also to spit out lukewarm water.
Be hot or be cold.
Here are some news stories from today that you can chew on in order to consider the way that racism still plays out today.