Everyday Racism?

Sometime during the month of April, I was contacted by WGN and asked to be interviewed for a segment they were doing on Everyday Racism. I was told that WGN wanted another point of view. At that point, I should have asked about the point of view to which WGN was seeking an alternative. I might have learned that a particular narrative was being proffered, and anything expressed contrary to that narrative was not going to be fully or fairly treated. I agreed to do the interview not really knowing much about the segment or how long it would be.

WGN reporter Gaynor Hall interviewed me for about a half hour. She asked me questions about my background, my politics, and my experiences with racism. I answered all her questions as my wife listened. I also made it clear that I see the world through a biblical worldview. What I mean by that is we are all sinners, and racism is a sin. It is part of our human nature that can’t be legislated away. Racism is an inward thought about the inferiority of other races or harboring negative stereotypes of those races. The overt act, which I said we must be more concerned about, is discrimination. I also mentioned that racism is a secular construct that is not evidenced in Scripture. There is only one race—the human race.

I conveyed that to be overly concerned about what people think about race is to position ourselves as thought police. Only God knows peoples’ thoughts until they are articulated or demonstrated. Why should I care if someone doesn’t like me because of my race if they’re not discriminating against me? President Trump provides a good illustration of my point. The narrative from the progressive left is that Trump is a racist. However, his tax policy has opened the door for more jobs and economic growth for all Americans. Why should I care if he harbors negative feelings about blacks if his policies are helping them? To be clear, I see no evidence of his supposed racism.  I hear the accusations but see little proof.  I have friends who work in and with the administration, and they say he is not a racist.

I also brought up Donald Stirling, the man who used to own the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. From the outside looking in no one knew he was a racist until his girlfriend outed him. His racism was revealed only in his home. He evidently showed no public signs of racism. He had a black coach and many black players on a team that ended up going to the NBA playoffs. There was no evidence of racial discrimination. So, why would we care?

At some point in the discussion, I made my comment about people being “so easily offended.” (see video here) I said I was tired of people using the “R” word every time there’s an incident between blacks and whites. I said, “maybe sometimes somebody did something wrong, and they shouldn’t have been doing it.” I said,

[R]acism is going to be here. It’s a part of our sin nature. It’s part of the human condition—just like lying and stealing and all these other things that people do. I’m not saying that racism doesn’t matter at all, but we shouldn’t spend our time trying to scope out every person that may have a racist idea.  We need to make changes ourselves within the community and stop looking for someone to come save us. We can save ourselves.

My comments were followed by a comment from Patrice Colours, one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter, rejecting the idea of self-help and personal responsibility calling it “a lie.” She went on to say, “We should talk about how we collectively change the system that so often hurts and harms us.”

In my opinion that moved the discussion from peoples’ personal biases to systemic racism which is a different conversation. I think it is even harder to prove or identify. But it still misidentifies what holds people, in this case, black people, back. It’s not the attitude of others that holds us back but our attitude. The constant preoccupation with what others think about us is robbing us of a sense of agency in our own lives. It serves as an obstacle to using our fortitude to effect positive changes in our own lives, regardless of what others may think.

In fact, the story upon which the program was centered involved a twelve-year-old boy, Iain Bady, who was arrested by the Evanston, IL police. He had been riding on the rear wheel pegs of the bicycle while a young girl was riding on the handlebars with the third person operating the bike. The cyclist—with all two riders—ran a stoplight and caused a few cars to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the kids. (Read the story here) Police officers saw the incident and followed the kids into a Starbucks. Two of the kids were arrested. It appears the third got away. Both kids who were arrested are black. I‘ve not seen anything that identifies the third child’s race. The problem with the whole ordeal is that the kids were wrong and should have been disciplined. But, as you can guess, it has been turned into a racial incident because the perps are black.

The question is: Would the police have arrested these kids if they were white? Unfortunately, that question can’t be answered with any certainty. You would have to have white kids and black kids doing the exact same thing, and then have a discrepancy in how they were treated in order to answer that question. But to those who have suspended critical thinking, the reason they were arrested is racism. In other words, the story around which the program Everyday Racism was centered is not even a clear indication of racism. It may be bad policing, allowing the third kid to get away, or charging the kids with a crime. I see no racism although many are spending a lot of time trying to conjure it up.

Chasing down racism or conjuring it up speaks to me of seeking approval from the greater society. We don’t need permission from anyone for blacks to progress. We don’t need white people to like us in order to advance. The goal of the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t to change racist people into admirers of black people but to change the law that reflected that racism which was demonstrated in the discrimination that impeded our progress.

Jim Crow is gone. So, let’s move on despite any vestiges of “everyday racism” in the minds of those who hate us. Let us pray they change their minds like many over the centuries have. In the meantime, let’s use our energy to fix our own communities, families, and businesses, restoring the awe-inspiring legacy of our ancestors who overcame tremendous odds to achieve great things in sports, academia, entertainment, politics, and business, establishing towns like Black Wall Street while giving honor and glory to God along the way.

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2 thoughts on “Everyday Racism?

  1. P Kraft says:

    The Golden Rule is a simple way to ensure fairness ~ treat others as you want them to treat you. No colors, no religions, no races. Those who focus on the past and the injustices there rob themselves of opportunities in the present, and poison their own spirits with resentment.

  2. T.J. Scripa says:

    Thank you, Dr. Wallace. It’s refreshing to hear someone comment from a Christian perspective.

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