February 19, 2013

Race isn't an issue - so stop making it one!

After all we've been through here in the United States, you'd think we could safely consider ourselves past the issue of 'race'. Unfortunately for all involved, however, it seems we just can't manage to let go.
A few weeks ago I saw part of a televised interview featuring a lovely young actress who, though I personally haven't seen any of her performances to know, has apparently met with a good bit of success in Hollywood. The woman hosting the interview asked this young lady to share with the audience what it was like having achieved this kind of success in spite of the challenges presented by her being "black and a woman". The actress responded with a long discourse on other women who have overcome these or similar obstacles before her, and how much their courage inspired her.
I was floored.
Don't get me wrong: I am painfully aware that there are still people who maintain strong racial hostilities. They are out there, and I'm not under any delusions about that. But honestly, can't we admit that an interview question like that is severely outdated? It isn't as if this young lady is the first female to really become successful in the movie industry, and it isn't as if she's the first dark-skinned person to become successful in the movie industry either. I'm not trying to downplay her success, but if pop culture is really so concerned with eliminating the 'race issue', then why in the world don't they let it go?

Of course, as annoying as instances like I just described are, I suppose it can be expected from the secular world. When your cushy western lifestyle takes care of all your needs and wants for you, I guess you have to find something you can still fret about.
What is completely inexcusable, though, is the racial segregation still taking place within Christianity. I'm not talking about the "Whites on one side, blacks on the other!" kind of segregation. I'm talking about Christians behaving as if so-called "white" and "black" are any different at all, period.
As many of you know, I am signed up with several different Christian publishing houses as an Advance Reader. They send me new releases, I read them, and then review them online. Recently I was scanning the Available Books list of a large and well-known Christian publishing house when I came across a book geared towards single mothers, offering advice on how to raise "a successful black man".
And last week, I was in a Christian book store and saw another title offering financial advice "for the African-American family".
The question I just have to ask is this: if we don't want race to be an issue, why are we still treating people of different colors as if they're different in any other way? Why should your skin color have any affect on the way you raise your children or manage your finances any more than your hair color does? God's laws, principles, and instructions are absolute, all-inclusive, and, last I checked, don't come with skin color-specific caveats.
Now, I don't want to be one of those platitudinous people who assume expressions reminiscent of Renaissance martyrs and proclaim that "I don't see color when I look at people!". When I look at you I do see the color of your skin, just like I see the color of your hair and your eyes, whether you're male or female, whether you're tall or short, etc. Your skin color is part of what makes you a unique individual. I just don't happen to believe that it's what makes you like or unlike me, because as a Christian I know that we're all of one race and one blood.
Acts 17:26 says "From one man He (God) created all the nations throughout the whole earth..."
Every human alive on the planet is descended from Adam and Eve - all of the DNA code for every genetic trait there is was present in their bodies when they were created. Jesus Christ didn't have to die on the cross as a black person and then again as a white person and then yet again as an Asian person, He died as a human, and that covered everybody!
The secular culture tries to put everybody in a box of one kind or another, and their packaging system defies the imagination with its boxes-within-boxes and boxes-linked-to-other-boxes. I get so tired of surveys, job applications, and other official forms demanding that I assign myself to one of their many "race" boxes. When "Other" is given as an option, I check it and write in "Human". When that isn't an option, I'm rather stuck. According to their perspective, I'm a mix of two different 'races', but I'm not going to denounce one whole side of my family just to fit into one of their pre-made boxes, so what exactly do they expect me to do? And if they're the ones making such a noise over how much race doesn't matter, why are they so insistent to know what my "race" is, anyway? It's a system that just doesn't work except to keep non-issues alive and festering needlessly.
We as Christians should be leading the fight to make race truly a non-issue. And I don't mean getting all warm-and-fuzzified over someone who 'overcomes' their race to be a success. I mean really, truly, believing and showing others that there is only one physical race. The only race-like distinction that the Bible makes is between the two spiritual races of Believers and Unbelievers - no division according to skin color.
This isn't an issue that Christians talk about very much, at least not in a Biblical context. I've talked to Christians who have never stopped and taken the time to think about what the Bible actually says on the topic. Tragically, I've talked to professing Christians who harbor strong racial prejudices. Both situations sadden me greatly. Living in a culture that's constantly spewing humanist blather on the subject, it can be difficult to step back, take a breath, and prayerfully seek out God's answers. Believe me, I know. I struggle with it too. But we have got to find our feet, step up, and take a stand on this. The Bible offers the only solid answer to the question of why racism is wrong in the first place. All anyone else can come up with is a lot of warm-fuzzy jargon that doesn't even make sense within the context of humanist ideology.
We have the answer to the race question. Let's not waste it.


  1. Exactly! You could have purple skin with yellow polka-dots for all I care and I'd just be like...okay, what color t-shirts do you like to wear? Which is a dumb question, but you know...

  2. I don't disagree with a lot in this post. But I would like to bring a different perspective and more information to the topic table,

    I lived in the extreme South, Columbia SC to be exact for 9 months. It was a major culture shock. Suddenly I, a fair skinned person, was in the minority. My family was also in a minority because my parents were actually still married and had 6 kids. Down there, here is a dark cloud that hangs over everybody, but especially African Americans in the South. You can still practically taste the shame, anger, and despair that was supposedly wiped out when the Civil War ended 200 years ago. A lot of the dark skinned population down there can't look you in the eye, and when you do see their faces, they're full of anger and hopelessness. When a people group live under a stigma of being lesser, non human, that is going to have some long lasting spiritual effects. As much as I hate to say it, there are different problems facing African Americans than white Americans. So I am glad that there are books written for "the African American family", amen, we need those! I saw so many broken families, broken people who still need to be pulled out mire and pain that unfortunately comes with just being born into who they are. It's not fair, no, but that's how it is. It's much harder to understand when you grow up in the Midwest and in the culture we have here.

    We live in a fallen world, many things are less than ideal. One of them being the issue of "race". I agree, we are all one human race, regardless of our color. But because of our humanity, each color is going to have it's own set of issues to deal with. And as Christians, it is our responsibility to acknowledge those ugly issues for what they are, and then begin to work on the healing process. Not every issue can be solved overnight, some scars run too deep for that, God's grace and time are needed to complete the healing.

    1. Wow - that's quite a comment! Thanks for jumping in to contribute, Grace!
      I appreciate your perspective and the time you've taken to share it so clearly. And while my intention is not to argue, I would like to point out a few things about your remarks.
      First, since based on your mention of the Civil War I assume you're referring to the issue of slavery, I want to make it clear that race and slavery are not the same issue, and that slavery in America was not race-based.
      My ancestors were slaves too. They weren't African, they were Irish, but they were still brought to America against their will and enslaved for generations. They received even worse treatment than African slaves in some cases, and were considered to be of less value (both monetarily and as humans), because they were "contaminated" with Catholicism, while African slaves were not. In the 1600s an Irish slave sold for a tenth or less of the price of an African slave.
      I am not trying to downplay the sufferings of African slaves at all, but I do want to make it very clear that Africans were not enslaved simply because of their skin color, any more than Irish were. American plantations needed slaves. Africa and Ireland were both ready sources of them. It was as simple as that.
      As I said in the article, your skin color is not what makes you like or unlike me. I live with the same knowledge many dark-skinned people do: that my ancestors were considered less than human, treated like animals, sold like property - in the very country I call home, no less. Skin color had nothing to do with it.
      Furthermore, living with that knowledge doesn't leave me feeling angry or hopeless. It doesn't stop me looking anyone in the eye. My ancestors lived for centuries under the exact same stigma you mentioned, but I have no shame or despair as a result, and it hasn't left any scars or negative "spiritual effects" on me or on any of my family.
      Am I happy about the fact that my ancestors suffered all that? Of course not. Do I wish they had been treated as equal citizens with the same rights as everyone else? Of course I do. And I could very easily choose to spend my life in a rage or a swamp of depression because of what happened to them, but what would be the purpose of that? No one alive today had anything to do with what happened back then, so what would my anger or despair accomplish?
      So, although as I said, race and slavery are not the same issue, it still comes back to the point I was trying to make with this article: it is time to move on and let the past be the past.
      It's okay if what happened in the past hurts when we think about it. It's good that we understand what we humans are capable of doing to each other so that we can help prevent such things happening here again. But we don't have to live in anguish because of it. We have to choose to let it go.
      There are people out there who let issues of the past - be it slavery or racism or both - tear them up to this day, and I know that. Yes, since they've let it tear them up, they need healing. But they have to choose to stop clawing the wound open. That's what I'm saying: we need to let go. It doesn't have to be an issue anymore, so we need to stop holding on to it.
      Perhaps we need books written to help people holding on to past grievances let go, but as far as general Christian counsel is concerned, we don't need color-specific advice. God's principles transcend skin color, just like they transcend all the other category boxes we humans make for ourselves.


What are your thoughts on this post? I'd love to hear your comments, questions, or ideas, even if you don't agree with me. Please be aware that I reserve the right to delete comments that are uncivil or vulgar, however.