I used to be a racist.
Like many people today I didn’t think I was. I was raised in a Christian home with solid biblical teaching. I was raised to believe that God made all people and loves all people. I believed that he died and rose for all people. I can remember as a child having friends of all colors and not thinking twice about it.
But as a young white youth living in an exclusively white town in Texas (I have no recall of an African American student at any point in my school growing up) you hear things. You laugh at things. You repeat things. You want to fit in. You go with the flow.
I slowly became a racist not because of a conscious choice to do anything. In fact it was really easy. I did nothing. I questioned nothing. I muted my conscience for the sake of being liked. It was so simple.
I didn’t question why there were no black students in my school, my church, my neighborhood. I knew why. The reputation of the town insured that only white people would live there.
And everyone was just fine with it.
I didn’t think the opinions from my friends were acting like poison in my veins–creating a hardened perception of people. I didn’t realize that hard working, loving, and generous people I knew could gently spew the same venom as my more clearly racist friends without the Red Man chew or four letter words. I didn’t know that white people could live in cultural ghettos of blind privilege.
Only when I started studying what it meant to follow Jesus and the claims of the gospel later in college did God initiated an invisible and unintentional journey out of ignorance. I was often unaware of corrections to my thinking. As I moved closer to Him, I only know that I moved away from what was natural to they way I thought about non-white people. It wasn’t like I woke up one day all fixed.This journey has been slow and embarrassing at times. Old patterns of thinking die hard.
I’ve been learning the hard way that the only journey out of racism is looking at the person of Jesus, His death for all people, and His reconciling and multi-ethnic pursuit to make a new race of people known only for their love.
So, if you want to become a racist–here’s my advice.
Just do nothing.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)