Okay, I know the incendiary title is a cheap trick to get your attention. But I really do want to share my thoughts on racism. Calm down, I’m not calling you a racist or trying to be ugly.
For those of you who haven’t heard or don’t follow sports (and believe me, I’m usually one of them), some Fox Sports News writer named Jason Whitlock made some comments on Twitter about New York Knicks basketball player Jeremy Lin. So to start – I don’t follow the NBA, don’t know Lin or Whitlock, and I don’t really care about sports writers except one (Patty’s an old friend). But the racism thing is something that is of interest to me. You can google either name and get buried in the details, but basically Whitlock (who is black) made some off-color comment about Lin (who is asian) and now everyone’s taking sides.
It’s interesting (meaning, no one probably cares but me) to see the dynamic of reactions online. I love to put things into nice, neat boxes so here’s what I’ve seen so far in my extensive 10 minute online research:
· Blacks running to Whitlock’s defense
· Furious Asians calling for Whitlock’s head
· Pundits crying ‘double standard’, citing cases of white on black, latino on asian, female on male, etc. cases of discrimination that lead to ___ (firing / suspension / fines, etc.)
· And as always – there’s the unseen population, or those that have a reaction but are not going to touch it online. Maybe in closed quarters among friends.
So, here’s what I’d like to suggest. Everyone has a prejudice. If you actually believe that you have NO different reaction to me being an asian-looking online persona (ooo. . . . maybe, I’m actually a black woman posing online behind the veil of internet anonymity), then I’d basically say “I don’t believe you”.
If you met me for the first time on the street, you will immediately notice things about me. I look asian, on the ‘husky’ side of the scale, not a very fancy dresser. If we stop to have a conversation, depending on where you grew up, you might think I have a Midwestern / Chicagoan accent. You might be surprised that I don’t have an asian accent, that I can say my R’s and L’s, and most of the time, I speak in complete, proper sentences. If we sit down and talk at length, you might learn that I have very strong opinions about government, faith, and families. Chances are I might have some kids with me, so that might lead you to have some other pre-disposed opinions.
My point is that we are all different. And we are all alike. If you sat down and took the time to draw out a Venn diagram of all the different ways people can be categorized and grouped — first of all, you have way too much time on your hands. But you’d eventually see that we all make choices to associate with certain groups of people over others. It’s actually quite natural. The Political Correctness police try to convince us that our human nature needs to be suppressed and pretend like it doesn’t exist. I don’t have any moral objection to racial prejudice.
Now there’s a difference between racial prejudice and being racist. Racial prejudice can be changed with the right experiences. If you’ve never met an asian man, and the only experience you have with us is from watching kung fu movies or history channel films about Mao Tse Tung, then your prejudice makes soooo much sense to me. What else would I expect?
Racists, on the other hand, are trying to further the advantage of a particular race at the expense of one or many other races. Some would argue that you can’t be a racist if you are fighting for your rights (as defined by your race). So for instance, if blacks are promoting blacks only businesses, politicians, schools, subsidies, etc. – and assuming they are disadvantaged to begin with – that this is not considered racist.
I would argue that this is simply not true. Any cause that is rooted in race being the only determining boundary marker is by definition racist. If you voted for Obama simply because he’s black, you are a racist (whether you are black or not). If you are Floyd Mayweather downplaying Lin’s performance because “I support Black American athletes”, then you are racist.
Look, everyone has racial prejudice. Some people are going to be racist. It’s just a fact of life. Yes, we can try to educate one other on the differences between cartoon stereotypes and reality, but getting violent or angry about it is not going to win them over either.
More importantly, as Christians, we should understand that race is astoundingly trivial and petty. Paul writes in Philippians 3 how he was the highest of all Hebrews, a Pharisee, born of the right family, raised in obedience, educated, respected and righteous in the eyes of men. And yet, everything that he had of the flesh, Paul considered it worthless rubbish in consideration to Christ.
We, as Christians, must preach Christ – not race or gender or height or wealth.