Some thoughts on racism

Most people want to end racism, including me. Ending racism is not controversial, as some conclude merely because there is disagreement on its scope and solution.

We’ll never completely eradicate racism because as long as there are people with hearts unchanged by the transforming power of God there will be racists. But we can go a long way towards reducing the effects of it, and the first step should be promoting understanding of what racism is.

What is racism?
Racism is defined as: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Or: racial prejudice or discrimination. So it’s a particular belief or attitude of a person towards others of a different race.

But many today are promoting the position that “racist acts are defined by their impact, not their intent.” This shifts the object to which the descriptor “racist” can be applied from a cause (a person) to an effect, which is a huge difference. So on this definition any action taken by a person or system that has a negative impact on blacks can therefore be deemed racist.

This seems to me a crucial distinction that is driving a lot of the misunderstanding and conflict. It’s why the Black Lives Matter movement feels justified in declaring systemic racism as indisputable, and why others cry foul.

So if we hope to make any progress on racism we first need to agree on what it is.

I’m not racist
Another point of contention is the charge (or at least implication) that all whites are racist…we just don’t know it. I acknowledge that I can have an attitude, inclination, or belief that prompts something I say or do without my being conscious of it being a factor at the time. And even that I have had prejudicial thoughts about blacks in the past.

But I do not believe the white race is superior to any other race, and have not engaged in nor do I support discrimination based on race. So I am not a racist. Yet I’m being asked to “give black people the benefit of the doubt when we call out racism.” I am asking them to call out injustice without assuming it’s racism. Because racism is not an effect; it is a cause, which they cannot necessarily perceive accurately.

I also can acknowledge that my being white spares me from some things many blacks experience, and that is a privilege. But though I can and should work to eliminate injustices, I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for something I have no control over.

Dismissing doubters and diversity
As I indicated at the top, many on the left seem to think that if we question any part of their narrative or proposals regarding racism then we must not care about it, or about black people. That’s just not true, and it’s an unfair assumption that inhibits progress in improving black lives. If a person or a movement is close-minded to any view or evidence that conflicts with their position, they’re less likely to have an accurate evaluation of the problem or an effective solution.

Many on the left even disregard or dismiss the voices and views of black people who disagree with their narrative. How is that legitimate? Treating blacks as a monolithic victim group with a single shared perspective is demeaning to them and exclusionary. Aren’t we supposed to be all about diversity?

Well, I’ve got a half-page of notes to address yet…good cop, bad cop…BLM goals…context…whataboutism…objective morality…fatherhood…and more. I hope you’ll stay tuned.