Saturday, September 24, 2016

Overcoming Racism

Galatians 3:28 (ESV) - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

A few months ago my son-in-law and I, who are both white, were shopping in a neighborhood where most residents were people of color. After making our purchases we headed to the door to leave and noticed they had a "checker" going through bags as each person left the store, presumably to make sure no one had stolen any items. That is not that uncommon so we got in line to have our bags checked. When the checker saw us, he waved us through without looking at our bags. While waving us through, he continued carefully going through the bags of the other people in line, all of whom were people of color. Though we cannot know for sure why he waved us through but made everyone else wait in line, the only conclusion we could think of was because we were white. The bag checker apparently thought white people could not possibly steal stuff from stores but people of color might. So their bags needed checked but ours did not. 

Since that experience I have become more aware of this kind of stuff happening. I cannot imagine the frustration, indeed the anger, that people of color must feel when they are degraded publicly like that in stores that they shop from regularly. I cannot imagine the fear moms of color of have when their sons walk to the grocery store. I cannot imagine the pent up angry that rests just under the surface of those who experience discrimination again and again and again so many years after the Civil Rights era was supposed to have solved all of this.

I don't know how to fix it, but I know that pointing it out so people become aware of it is one step. In retrospect, I should have gone back to that store and insisted that my bag be checked. I did later send an email to the store manager, though I never got a response back. Only by speaking up can we help people see how wrong this kind of thing is.

I also think we can address this issue by not falling prey to subtle racism in our own lives in the way we interact with people of color on a day to day basis. Though I'm not a perfect example to follow, one thing I try to do is when I see a person of color, especially a young man, is to look them in the eye and speak to them. Even if all I do is say hello as I pass them on the street, it is my way of saying "I see you and I think you are important enough to notice." I want him to know there is at least one white man out there in a position of influence who saw him as an equal. It may not change the world, but perhaps for that one young man, it makes him walk a little prouder that day. And if enough of us do it, maybe all those young men will realize they do not need to be pressed into a mold of someone else's making, they can become whatever the Lord leads them to be.

Lord, help us see past the color of our skin and demonstrate Your love for all people. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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