Thoughts on Racism
I am a white man and do not speak for another white person or group. Yet, this is more than just a disclaimer to help others distance themselves from things that I write or say, there is an underlying, objective principle within these words, true for anyone who weighs in on this issue of racism, black, brown, yellow, red, or white. There is no such thing as a spokesman for white skinned people any more than there is for black skinned. There is no consensus view, right or wrong, on racism from all blacks or whites. It is a myth to think that any one person is a representative speaker of all the people who match him in skin tone. The same is true for groups of spokespeople.
Even the idea of a white or black community smacks of the notion that human beings can be lumped into easy categories based on melanin. By the way, it was exactly this kind of senseless ideology, i.e. racism, that lead to the wickedness of slavery in our nation, but is now rearing its ugly head in more sophisticated ways, manifesting itself not only in whites, but in people of every color. This broad brush, category mentality also extends to evangelicalism. I detest the notion of the "community of white evangelicals," as if all whites who are also evangelical (I use this word in its broadest and most meaningless of ways) think the same. Just take a look at the views Jerry Falwell Jr. and contrast them with Jim Wallace. I cringe when I hear people talking about racism from a certain point of view that is taken as a given among all whites or all blacks.
There are many black people who represent my views far better than many white people, some who may rightly deemed as racist. There are also black, public figures whose views I see as racist. When we begin to speak to racism and aim to be healed of this scourge that has plagued our land for far too long, we must rid ourselves first of the racist spokesman ideology or "community ideology." Perhaps we need to learn to ask the simple question, "Who says?" Do the views of Bill Clinton and Franklin Graham represent all white people? Do Clarence Thomas and Cornel West both represent all black people? Should we listen more to Ben Carson or Al Sharpton? Should we receive as representative of whites, the words of Rachael Maddow or Rush Limbaugh?
Of course, these options only prove the point. Yet, so much is often assumed when it comes to our discussion of race. There is no such thing as a black or white view. This is a myth and an evil that has continually paralyzed the discussion on this delicate and important matter. Do we really think that all whites in Norway think the same as all whites in Texas? The same could asked about blacks in Ghana and Illinois.
Why do we start here? I often hear the discussion on race framed from very particular political and social perspectives and then assumed to be representative of all people from a certain color group. I want to shout, "Wait a second, there are others of the same color who disagree, why are we disregarding their voices?"
What we should be after is the colorblind truth; truth that is indiscriminate in both its offence and comfort to all persons of every color. The reason that Martin Luther King spoke with such authority and power was because he spoke the truth regarding racism. And while the truth is black and white, it is not black or white, it is just true.
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