Today George Floyd is supposed to be buried in Houston, TX. Since the magnitude of the news coverage about Floyd’s death overwhelms anything this poor blog could offer, we won’t add to it. Instead, we will just consider why racism is a problem.
First of all, it is not easy to have a rational discussion about racism. We get extremely emotional about the subject. Consider Racism, Not Genetics, Explains Why Black Americans Are Dying of COVID-19 (blogs.scientificamerican.com). For some reason a higher proportion of blacks are getting COVID-19. Why? Well, some scientists have offered theories, but this article insists the problem is racism. How are racists spreading COVID-19? Well, the authors say the problem is “systemic”, as if the term “systemic” explains everything.
The modern consensus of evolutionary biologists is that our species does not have enough genetic variability among its populations to justify either the identification of geographically based races or of evolutionarily distinct lineages. (from here (tolerance.org))
How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century (sitn.hms.harvard.edu) makes a similar case.
The popular classifications of race are based chiefly on skin color, with other relevant features including height, eyes, and hair. Though these physical differences may appear, on a superficial level, to be very dramatic, they are determined by only a minute portion of the genome: we as a species have been estimated to share 99.9% of our DNA with each other. The few differences that do exist reflect differences in environments and external factors, not core biology. (from here (sitn.hms.harvard.edu))
In other words, racial prejudice is based upon races that do not in fact exist, and ‘Race is a lie. Stop believing it’ (washingtontimes.com) offers Biblical support.
Voddie Baucham, dean of Theology at the African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, says it this way,
“The concept of race is not a biblical idea; it is a constructed idea. You won’t find the idea of races in the Bible. [In Scripture], we are all the race of Adam. One race, one blood … The separations we have created — the racial categories — are artificial … They are not real … Racial distinctions are things that we have made up to divide ourselves … But the all-sufficient Word of God says to us, ‘That’s a lie, stop believing it!’” (from here (washingtontimes.com))
Thus, we are getting all worked up about “racial” differences that do not amount to anything. Why? The fundamental problem is pride.
Consider this story.
Luke 18:9-14 English Standard Version
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
How did that Pharisee begin? Instead of exalting God, he exalted himself. He thanked God “I am not like other men.” He took pride in his own unique identity as a Pharisee. Undoubtedly, he considered Jews vastly superior to Romans and Greeks, and he probably thought the barbarians were mere savages. On the other hand, I could be inflicting my own prejudices on that poor Pharisee, but he is no longer around to ask.
Our physical differences may not amount to much, but we have the capacity to notice them. Therefore, if we want to elevate ourselves above others, we can accentuate meaningless differences, such as those we attribute to racial differences.
Still, if we now know our supposed racial differences are insignificant, why do we still fuss over them?
- We are still sinners. As the Apostle Paul observes in Romans 7:7-25, we find it very difficult to resist the temptation to sin. Each of us still desires to believe that the characteristics that make up our own identity are superior to those of other men. Nevertheless, outright white supremacists are rare in this country. Nobody wants anything to with them. Hence we end up with opinion pieces like Walter E. Williams: Who are the racists? (omaha.com) and ‘We Are Not Cured’: Obama Discusses Racism In America With Marc Maron (npr.org).
- We seek political advantage. Instead of debating our opponents, we attack their character and motives. When we can make it stick the accusation of racism makes our opponents appear vile and backward. ‘Dying of whiteness’: why racism is at the heart of America’s gun inaction (theguardian.com) applies the charge of racism to the gun control debate, and Is racism and bigotry in our DNA? (theconversation.com) applies the charge of racism far more broadly.
- There is an industry that makes money off racism. Consider the point of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (eeoc.gov), for example. To avoid being sued, employers have to comply with a bunch of laws, including educating their employees on the subject of what constitutes inappropriate discrimination.
So what is the point? We need to take what the Bible says to heart and love our neighbors regardless of their race, sex or creed. Instead of assuming we are better, we need to consider the possibility we are not.
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