Often times people consider racism to be something of the past. But, what we have really seen is just a sort of transition into the way in which we handle racism. As a kid, I was under the impression that racism was dead, that it was something that was pretty much forgotten about. As I got older, I began to understand that I had a very false perspective on this issue.
Growing up, I often learned about the slavery in America that took place in the 19th century. What I was taught was that people (and in this case, it was whites and blacks) were not to “own” other people or to treat people differently based upon their skin color. As I got into Junior High, I learned even more about the issues of civil rights, segregation, and other issues related to racism that took place in the 20th century. It’s a simple lesson to learn as a kid, but it is drastically oversimplified. Coming into late Junior High and early high school, I noticed that kids would make racist “jokes.” It’s all fun and games until you insult the wrong person. I am guilty of this as are most people. Racism is not dead. It is still alive. It has simply taken a new form.
I didn’t realize this until I looked back on certain parts of my life and I realized that I myself had some racist tendencies. It seems to me to be an inevitable difficulty of the human race to be afraid of people who are different than us. For some reason, the simple issue of skin color is what has manifested itself into our culture. I remember going through Junior High and High School, growing up in the city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, where my school was very racially diverse. I remember thinking some not so very nice things about people who had different skin color than me. I remember subconsciously associating them with various different kinds of stereotypes. I remember watching movies that would associate Arab people with American terrorism, and I just simply thought that was normal. But, and here me out on this, I would have never admitted to being a racist of any kind. I would never THINK of myself as that kind of person. Intellectually and spiritually, I knew it was disgusting and wrong. I had friends growing up who were black, Hispanic, etc. but for some reason, I would always subconsciously think that they were different in some way. The culture that I was raised in, as we all are raised in, is obsessed with the issue of race, and it has been implemented into our everyday lives. And, after getting to think about it more, I realized that our culture is still very racist.
People in the 19th century would often misconstrue certain verses in the Bible, making it look like slavery, even slavery based on skin color, was something that God honored. I am here to say that racism is fundamentally unbiblical in every single way. To think that one person is of lesser value than you is a very perverse way of thinking, and it is not the way that God intended for us to view each other. The issue of race isn’t even a biological problem; it’s a cultural one. If you were to go to an biologist and talk about race, they would have no idea what you were talking about. Our culture has screwed up the way that people view skin color. We could have just as easily made people with brown eyes superior to people with blue eyes, it wouldn’t have made any difference at all. We can make any sort of laws and regulations that we want to restrict racism, but if the underlying issue of thinking one individual is of lesser value than another persists, the problem will not go away.
The issue of race as it relates to skin color became very prevalent in my family just two years ago in February of 2012. My parents sat me and my siblings down and told us they were seriously considering international adoption. They were looking into adopting from Colombia, which would mean that my new little sister was most likely going to have a different skin color than the rest of us. I was so excited, but I still did have those tendencies to think that people who were of a different skin color were different than me. I remember people saying some very rude things to me and my family, wondering why we would ever want to adopt from a place like Colombia. Once we got Marcela into our family, the issue didn’t go away. People would often give us weird looks and wonder why we had a little brown girl with us. Why is this? Because racism is not dead. It’s not the individual person’s fault, it’s the fault of our culture as a whole being obsessed with this issue. It wasn’t until Marcela came into our family that I really started to gain a new perspective on race. I began to view it in a new light because I now had a family member who was not even biologically related to me. In a way, this adoption sort of reshaped my worldview. I began to disassociate stereotypes with certain people groups. I began to stop viewing people as different than me. I began to see people as just simply people, and not anything else. Skin color is no different than eye color or hair color. It is no different than short people or tall people. We are all PEOPLE. We are all created in the Image of God and we all have our flaws. But it is also important to understand that we are all DIFFERENT as well. We all struggle with different sins and convictions. We all have our own personalities. But, and this is the most important part of this post, we have to appreciate the differences in people if we are to appreciate the fact that we are all one big human family. Yes, my family adopted a little brown girl, and I LOVE that little girl. Since she arrived in America, I have gained a whole new appreciation for people who are simply just different than me.
So, how do we get racism out of our culture? We shutup about it. We stop focusing on it and we celebrate in our human differences as opposed to focusing on “what is wrong” with their differences. We are all formed in God’s Image, and to insult someone’s skin color is to insult God Himself.