Ten Suggestions For Better Race Relations and Less Black Stereotyping
Every few years, the subject of race, and black-white racial concerns in particular, come into focus and debate in the United States.
People seem to either feel indignation or are dismissive of racial concerns. For some, a sense of indignation stems from perceived or real slights and injustices which are too often racial in nature, to varying degrees. Those who are dismissive do not believe that race could be a significant factor in 21st century America, and therefore conclude that race issues are manufactured, or caused by the same people (Uusually African Americans) who express grievance based on slights and injustices experienced. Still others have a posture of trying to hover "above the fray" regarding all things racial and ethnic--displaying a kind of racial utopian worldview.
Whether one is Indignant, Dismissive, Utopian, or something else, race in America can never be ignored because racial factors are part of the fabric of our nation. Many of our national symbols carry the Latin statement, E Pluribus Unum, meaning "Out of many, one." This national fabric was woven by the Founders and by the decisions and actions of early Americans. We have a strong constitutional foundation. Good and bad threads comprise our social fabric, and there is no denying history or the effects of history on every generation. What we need to do is continue to better ourselves. We need to weave new and better fabric, in order to change "future" history.
Of the three states: Indignant, Dismissive, and Utopian, history has proved that indignation is the most useful catalyst to social change. (On a different level, spiritual awakening and revival brings moral change to the heart) From the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to anti-slavery abolitionists, to the Underground Railroad, to the woman's suffrage (voting rights) movement, to the civil rights movement in Dr. King's day, to 911 inspired counter-terrorism, to national reactions to mass shootings and bombings, to anti-abortion protests, and even Trayvon Martin's "justified" killing by George Zimmerman (as representative of perceptions about black males), indignation can provide a starting point in a pluralistic society. In the end, what must prevail is civil debate, clear thinking, better laws, just treatment, Godly influences, and a willingness to work together to find solutions.
Unfortunately, dismissive and utopian attitudes are not helpful to the process of change/justice and is antithetical to our American concept of social progress. It's actually better to "mix it up" so long as we do not become rude and intransigent. There are believers who will insist that our whole nation and government should be run based on the Holy Scriptures, but this is another utopian idea that is impractical in a sinful world and nation. Biblical government and civil government are not the same. The Founders understood this principle. The Kingdom of God is spiritual in nature and is expressed through the lives, actions, and witness of followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we had "biblical" civil government, all non-Christian religions could be deemed illegal. However, as "salt and light" Christians in the USA have had, and should continue to have, the greatest influence on our nation, so long as our own sins don't undermine our moral authority. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
My 10 "Commandments" (Suggestions) for Better Race Relations and Overcoming Black Stereotypes
Of course, these "commandments" carry no divine authority! In reality, anyone still living under the Law of Moses (or anyone's religious "law") has missed the essential fulfillment and realization of God's character through Jesus Christ. These statements represent my personal insights and measured expression of indignation So let's "mix it up!" Let's arrive at better personal convictions, leading to better actions, improve the fabric of our national discourse, and change future history.
1. You shall not lecture persons or offer commentary on an entire ethnic/racial group to which you neither belong nor deeply serve. (Romans 14:4)
2. You shall not pretend to understand people you do not know. Economic status and social "class" are not reliable indicators of a person's character and lifestyle.
3. You shall not assume that the actions of one or some members of an ethnic/racial group indicates anything significant about that whole group of people.
4. You shall neither believe nor promote the lie that black people operate under any kind of biblical "curse." Note: Noah's "curse" was pronounced on Canaan not Ham (Gen. 9:25)*, whose descendants long ago died off. Most importantly, Genesis 9:1, states, "God blessed Noah and his sons…" Ham was blessed by God and could not be cursed, not even by (a drunken) Noah.
5. You shall not highlight and share negative statistics about black people** while overlooking the overwhelming, and under-reported, amount of good, godly deeds and heroic contributions of African American persons. There's more to talk about than black crime (which has actually declined in the past ten years, but will always be unacceptable). "Non-black" crimes such as insider trading and mass murder are no less unacceptable. We must focus on improving ourselves and helping others around us!
6. You shall not be "color blind," nor selectively render people's lives and circumstances "invisible," but recognize, celebrate, and engage with people who are different than yourself.
7. You shall believe there is one "race"-- which is the "human" race, which is comprised of many ethnicities and nationalities. (Revelation 7:9). The whole concept of race, or people as "species," is a divisive concept. There is no such thing as "black blood" or "white blood."
8. You shall celebrate difference, uniqueness, and seek unity within diversity, not conformity through uniformity.
9. You shall admonish and pray for people who exhibit behaviors of racial superiority, paternalism, or engage in stereotypical portrayals of individuals who should rather be viewed as made in the image and likeness of God.
10. You shall keep your heart clear of presumption, judgment, hatred, xenophobia (fear/loathing of "other" people) and qualify your love for God by how you love people. (1 John 4:20)
*Read article by Dr. Tony Evans, "Are Black People Cursed?" http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Jan/18/are-black-people-cursed-curse-ham/
**Why Statistics Don’t Justify Our Prejudice or Our Profiling