Racism is more than Black or White

June 7, 2012

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We have friends who have a South African woman come once a week to help out with the children. They recently went on furlough and wanted to keep this woman employed during their trip. They arranged for her to help with another couple’s children.

Recently we learned this woman refused to come and help. The family who would have received her services (during our friends furlough) were from Zimbabwe. This woman, a black South African, refused to help someone from another African nation.

Racism is not only about the color of one’s skin. It goes much deeper.

Racism can be about nationality.
Racism can be about tribe or people group.
Racism can be based on economic status, real or perceived.

While South Africa is making great progress as a free nation, we still see the stigma of racism raise its ugly head.

A few years ago the country erupted into xenophobia (fear of other races). South Africans attacked people from other African nations perceived to be taking their land and jobs.

 

Lest we think that this is merely an African issue, let me remind us of the racism in our own hearts. Maybe it is not based on color, but the attitudes stemming from the same root are much broader.

We all have people groups about which we believe certain things.

They have such tempers…..
They are lazy…..
You can’t trust one of these people…..

Sighs of exasperation followed quickly by one word generalizations……

Men….
Women….
Young People Today….

Words like always and never reveal the stereotypes rooted in all of our hearts.

Racism is much bigger than black, white, or brown. It is in our hearts in the form of superiority.

We have seen these attitudes present in the church as well. A local pastor was attempting to counsel some young people on the manhood ritual involving circumcision (this ritual often involves the worship of ancestors and is a difficult choice for Christians to make.) The youth refused to listen to him because he was not of their tribe. He was the same color and the same nationality, but the discord went so deep it hit the tribal level.

The nation is making great strides, but there is still a long way to go.

The same is true for us. One of my pastors has been known to call this generation the “most color blind generation in US history.” I agree.

Yet, won’t it be something when we can proclaim the church as the least judgmental, stereotype carrying group on the planet.

Now that sounds like progress.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God