Racism Today

The last several years have shown that racism is alive and well in America. It is not just that some people are racist, though that is true, but that there is an underlying current of racism in American society, called systemic or structural racism.  Here are two videos by Phil Vischer (of VeggieTales fame) from which I learned a lot about racism in America. 

Much of what Phil talks about is the history of systemic or structural racism in the last 60+ years, that is racism that is built into society and our laws.  It does not make for a level playing field with people of color not being treated equally.  Phil lays out a good argument why this is the case. It is worth watching both videos.  Part 2 answers the common questions and objections to the first video.  

To bring up one point that really struck me is the typical white household ($171,000) has 10 times more wealth than the typical black household ($17,150). (6.7 times if you include the atypical households.)  Much of the wealth is usually found in home ownership, and it is also one of the best ways to grow your wealth. The lack of wealth limits your options.  This is in part due to the policies of the past and present, such as redlining, which is the systematic denial of services (e.g. house loans) by the government and the private sector.  

Racism is a complex problem with no simple solutions.   Many people of color have been kept in poverty, intentionally and unintentionally, by white Americans and by American laws.   Because this has gone on for generation after generation, many black people, especially men, have lost all hope. They see no way out of their poverty. Many have stopped trying.

The Bible speaks quite clearly about racism being wrong and that all are equal in the sight of God.  Here are a few phrases from the Bible:

  • Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)
  • For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11)
  • But if you show partiality, you are committing sin (James 2:9)

The result of racism is oppression. What does the Bible have to say about oppression?

  • The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9)
  • Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Proverbs 14:31)
  • Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17)

What can we do? First, we need to care, and listen, and learn. If God is for the oppressed, then we should be to.  We need to act.  We should seek justice and correct oppression. We should be generous to the needy.  We should not continue to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. (Consider some of the ideas at the end of the second video to put into action.)

Paul was concerned about the racial divide between Jews and Gentiles in the Ephesian church so he wrote:

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:13-17)

It is Jesus Christ who brings peace to our racial divide and makes us one.

3 thoughts on “Racism Today

  1. Concerning systemic racism, after having listened to many hours of commentary and interviews these last several months on NPR and PBS, yes, there are many who claim that police have a different set of criteria when stopping African-Americans in traffic for anything and everything because those drivers were guilty of DWB (Driving While Black), and that banks’ business loan and mortgage policies unfairly discriminate against anyone of color regardless of how well-off the minority loan applicants are, and that the most impoverished school districts are those in minority neighborhoods because it is precisely those districts that cannot generate much property tax revenue to fund their schools – therefore all property tax revenue should be put into a common pot across the state to ensure that all children, regardless of color or school district, have the same funding for their schools and educations as the middle- and upper-class children have. I think there is a great deal of merit to these claims and ideas.

    But I’ve also noticed in the frequently-repeated statistics about how large a percentage of African-Americans are arrested and imprisoned as compared to Caucasians is that there’s never any mention of which ethnic groups are actually committing the most crimes. It’s easy to attribute minorities’ higher crime rates to their much higher unemployment and poverty levels, but no one ever talks about the breakdown of their families (particularly in the black community), and how an astonishing 75% of all black children are born to single mothers whose husbands or boyfriends skipped out on them and left them to raise their children alone. Not only does this impoverish those young mothers and their children, but it also negatively impacts the kids in that they do not receive the discipline, ethical training, and leadership that they should otherwise be getting from their fathers. And if they’re not getting those things at home, nor enough of a sense of family or mentoring, then where will they get them from? From public schools? Heck no. In the ‘infinite wisdom’ of our court system, all moral instruction was removed from them decades ago. From private parochial schools? What single mother can afford them, especially among minorities? Unfortunately, many of those children will get what they seek from gangs.

    The deafening silence I hear in the media today is about the epidemic of broken families and the elevated crime statistics that subsequently arise out of the black community as a direct result of all those broken family units. At one point, even Martin Luther King Jr. chastised blacks for causing some of their own problems with regard to deserted mothers and fatherless children, theft, vandalism, and black-on-black violence. These things have long-lasting and far-reaching ripple effects that extend well beyond their own communities and greatly affect how the majority white population views them and treats them. These negative social statistics directly contribute to discrimination against African-Americans in housing, loans, business investments in minority neighborhoods, and higher-level job opportunities … and this, in turn, feeds the poverty, stress, anger, violence, and broken marriage statistics in black communities. It’s a self-perpetuating loop with both sides at fault.

    I hold the leftist media partially responsible for kowtowing to minorities (who usually support the same Democratic party that the media supports). The media only talk about one side of the racial divide coin but not the other. To point only to the higher percentages of incarceration among minorities as evidence of racial discrimination in police departments, while at the same time completely ignoring the much higher negative social and crime statistics per capita among minorities as compared with whites, is to present a totally one-sided view and does a disservice to everyone.

    Sure, there are some police tactics that need to change. That has been made clear multiple times in recent years, starting long before the George Floyd incident. But we also need to give police departments the room and the funding they need to do their jobs. Defunding police departments is the epitome of liberal lunacy. That’s like defunding schools to solve the problem of poor student performance and high drop-out rates.

    And yes, let’s also rethink school district funding, home and business loan requirements for minorities (including the practice red-lining), but let’s also pray about all this, because this is another front in the ongoing, widespread, and multi-faceted spiritual warfare in our nation.

    Jeff Lemke

  2. Jeff,
    You need to check out the part 2 video for in the first 9 minutes Phil Vischer addresses your family concern (as well as another minute starting at about 11:25). To summarize briefly, the family collapse is a problem not only for black families but also for all the poor, white or black. And i believe it is a problem moving up the economic/educational ladder. It is a problem for all of us. The welfare benefits that were put into effect in the 1960s had a clause that prevented the family from getting benefits if there was an able body father in the house, employed or not (found in that other video minute). That also broke up families.

    The first video talked about why so many blacks end up in prison. One interesting stat, today blacks are 6 times more likely to go to prison for drug charges than whites even though drug usage is roughly the same. There many more similar stats in the video. The laws today may be color blind but the sentencing is not.

    Both videos are jammed packed with depressing but enlightening facts and are worth watching. I maybe should have summarized the videos but I found the task of what to put in the post and keep it to a reasonable length difficult. I could have went off in many different directions, but I decided to focus more on the scriptures.

    At the end of the second video he gives some suggestions of what to do. Those suggestions are similar to yours with an emphasis on partnering along side Christian organizations in the inner city to make a difference. And as you have said, we need to pray about it and be aware of the spiritual warfare going on around us.

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