Thursday, November 05, 2009

We're All at Least a Little Bit Racist

As the title suggests, we're all at least a little bit racist.


And don't get all "nuh uh, I'm not racist!" on me. Yes you are. We all are. It's ingrained in us.

Little seemingly innocuous racism is pervasive. I'd imagine most times we don't even see it as racism.

I view racism as I do lots of things, in three stages. I don't have clever names for these stages, they're just numbers.

Stage 1 is usually a bad attempt at humor, mixed with a decent amount of ignorance. We call stage 1 "stereotypes" instead of racism, because it makes us feel more comfortable. But to many, this type of racism is still very painful and degrading. Stage 1 racism is what has led to an issue between several Christian bloggers/authors that I follow: Mike Foster, Jud Wilhite, & Eugene Cho. You can read about it from Eugene Cho's blog here. This kind of racism is pervasive, and we take it for granted almost as if we expect it.

  • White people can't dance
  • Asians are good at math
  • Blacks love to eat fried chicken, collard greens, and watermelon
  • Chinese know kung-fu
  • Whites can't clap on rhythm (how hard is it to follow the drummer's left hand?!?!)
  • Ordering "Cashew Kitty" from chinese take-out
  • Blacks are better at a specific sport

Stage 2 racism gets a little deeper...and to be quite honest, it's the one that I see most often. This kind of racism has more hostility laced to it. It's not yet to a point of violence, but there is no attempt at humor here either. It's a bit of a middle ground between "stereotypes" and "hate crimes." There is a distrust, deliberate belittling, and disunderstanding of the race being mentioned in this level of racism.
  • All Hispanics are from Mexico
  • Hispanics are lazy
  • All Asian cultures are the same
  • All African cultures are the same
  • Blacks (or Hispanics, or Asians) are all gang members, criminals, thugs, etc
  • The thought that some races are literally inferior to others in intrinsic abilities/skills/competency/potential
  • And this:

Stage 2 Racism

Stage 3 racism is what leads to hate crimes. It's what fuels the white supremacist movement, the KKK, the holocaust, genocides in countries around the world. Living in Springfield, this is something that hits close to home. If you're unaware of the history of Springfield and the ozarks in general, google yourself some education on racism and hate crimes in the area. And be shocked at the lynchings that occurred so recently in this area, and the hate crime homocides from this decade. Now don't be surprised that Springfield is greater than 90% Caucasian by population....also, some news: THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

Moving on.

Stage 3 racism is a natural progression from stage 2...which is a natural progression from stage 1.  I'm not saying that if you think white people can't jump then you're going to murder someone of a different race. But I am saying that they're connected. That they're all bred from a larger problem, dehumanization.

In stage 1, we see caricatures & stereotypes--images that are not adequate human representations. Stage 2 is full of images of humans who are inferior to others. And stage 3 we get to such a lowering, that the people we are referring to are not even worthy of living.

We're not going to be all white in heaven.
We're not going to speak English, or Mandarin, or Spanish.

The constant pain and hurt that comes from all levels of racism is unacceptable and ungodly. Ungodly because it is not like God. The physical violence, the belittling, the dehumanization all flows from the same place. It all flows from within ourselves. It is a manifestation of our sinful nature and by definition is apart from God.

Is stage 1 racism as physically destructive as stage 3? Obviously not.

But is it emotionally destructive & painful to the victim while being emotionally & spiritually destructive to the perpetrator? Yes. Yes it is.

It's something we overlook, but to many it is a big deal.

We're all at least a little bit racist.

Address it. Own it. And then remove it.