Appropriate, Don’t You Think?

I have been told repeatedly that I need to feel guilty about how my race, the white race, has kept the black man down. How my ancestors kept the black man from succeeding and continues to perpetuate a system where whites are favored over blacks. I have been told this many times. I haven’t witnessed this personally. And that’s the problem. It’s called cognitive dissonance.

I have been told repeatedly how I ought to think. That what is moral and just and right is the way of looking at a whole “race” of men, based on the color of their skin, as a single unit. And looking at my own “race” of men, based on the color of our sin, as a single, unified group. However that is eastern thinking. In the east, it is typical to consider yourself as only part of a group. Identity is discerned based upon what group you belong to. This is why Communism tends to do very well in eastern countries, like China. Group-think defines how people think, and people are not to think for themselves or have opinions that differ from the group. That is foreign to western thinking.

In the west, starting with the classical Greeks, we are allowed to think for ourselves, and decide for ourselves what we think. Everyone is “entitled” to an opinion, right or wrong. This is reinforced by western religion, Christianity (which incidentally started in the “center” of the world) which calls for individual salvation, and each man stands or falls before God based on his own choices, not the choices of his group.

So tell me. Do people act as individuals, or as a group? Do we place blame for a criminal act on an individual, or upon his entire “race”? Excuse me for doing some individual thinking here. Do we excuse an entire “race” from criminal acts because an individual of that “race” has been wronged? That’s absurd, in western thinking.

Yet there is a narrative being forced upon a group of people, based in eastern thinking, forcing us to reconsider our “whiteness” or “blackness” based on “justice”. Can a crime be committed against a “race” of people? Or do individuals commit crimes against one another? Do we hold an entire “race” accountable for the acts of an individual?

Oh, but its “systemic”. Everyone in that racial group to one degree or another commits acts of micro-racism all the time, don’t you see. I believe the word you’re looking for is “different.” We treat people we don’t know differently than people we do know. There are some be give more “benefit of the doubt” than others. Yes, we practice sterotypes in our own mind, and rightly so. These are defense mechanisms. Do not allow “white guilt” to redefine what are natural and normal defense mechanisms. Why do white folks treat black folks differently? Because they are different. It is the same way we react to someone who is handicapped, or between males and females. Our sterotypes are formed based on this instinctual behavior and information we collect through experience that either reinforces or dispels the stereotype. We do this all the time without thinking about it because it is built in to us. Blacks and Whites (and Yellows and Reds, and Browns, etc.) all do the same things. We don’t naturally trust those who are different. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, he would rather judge someone by the content of their character than the color of their skin. That is a Christian worldview:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1Sa 16:7)

God says that a man looks at the outward appearance. We look at skin color. We look at facial features. But we have to learn to look as God sees, to look at the character of a man’s (or woman’s) heart. And the only way to do that is to 1) talk with them, and 2) observe the fruit of their actions.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
(Luk 6:45)


“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
(Mat 7:16-20)

The Jews once practiced this subtle form of racism (which is why many did not like them) because they considered themselves God’s chosen people because Abraham was their father. Jesus introduced an counter-cultural idea into their faith by saying that all who trust in Him and have eternal life in Him are brothers and sisters in Him.

But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
(Luk 8:21)

Jesus established a new kind of family. Not one based on skin color, national origin, or even a common ancestor. He based this new family on faith in Him. So that my brother in Christ in the Philippines is just as much my brother as the one in Nigeria. In Christ, we unite western thinking (we all must choose for ourselves Jesus Christ as our personal Savior) and eastern thinking (we are all One in Christ Jesus) with tribal thinking common in Africa and the subcontinent (we all identify with Christ Jesus, our King and Tribal Leader). These are admittedly broad brushstrokes, but they also come from personal and eye-witness experience. But there is no place for “racism” in Christian culture. I don’t care who you are or where you come from. There is no excuse for the kind of us vs. them mentality on display these days.

If you see injustice, you are right to be angry. But in your anger, do not sin, but instead to see Christ’s justice done.

Lord, help me today to see with clear eyes and clear thoughts. Though the world may seek to pit me against my brother, my fellow image-bearers, may my eyes and mind be clear, so that I may see others as You see them. Lord, let me be quick to see and quick to hear, but slow to anger, and slow to act. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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