Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Even with a degree, you’re still black

I came across this article from the New York Times today. I just had to post a link to it because it struck such a very personal chord with me. That race plays a factor in one’s ability to get or stay in a job is no mere theory for me; it’s reality. It does, indeed, seem that even with a college degree, you’re still black in the eyes of some who refuse to look past skin color. I encourage you to read this article. You need to know this.

Whenever a Black man like me brings up race, someone white will complain that he’s only “playing the race card”. Granted, some Blacks are guilty of playing the race card, that’s true; but, if you ask me, it’s equally true that some whites accuse Blacks of playing the race card only as a way to minimize real concerns about the real racism that still holds sway in our country.

One of my greatest frustrations (perhaps other Blacks share my frustration; I don’t know, because I’ve never asked) is the fact that racism has become so sophisticated and subtle in present-day America that it’s practically impossible to prove most of the time. After all, we can’t judge people’s motives. We can’t see someone’s heart, we’re told. A Black person like me can experience it, life experience has taught you how to recognize it, but you can’t prove it, because it’s in the heart. If you mention the possibility of racism, you’re accused of impugning someone else’s motives. You become a “problem” that needs correction. Meanwhile, racism suffers no consequences; it survives and thrives, unexposed and unchallenged. “This has nothing to do with race”, the racially-influenced person will protest. But, it’s just like Grandma used to say, “What you do speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say.”

The way I’ve learned to deal with racism is by learning to lean on my theology. I believe in a Day of Judgment. I believe that God knows exactly what’s going on. It’s just like the psalmist wrote (Psalm 33:13-15):

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.

Pa Bill used to say, “He sits high, and looks low, and He sees the deep secrets of everyone’s heart.” Pa Bill (who could barely read, and so, rarely read the Bible) didn’t know just how biblically accurate he was! I tell you, if I didn’t know that God would take care of it in the end—if I didn’t know that there was a future day of reckoning—I don’t know that I would be able to forgive. But, because I know God is just and fair, and will right all wrongs in the end, I can forgive. I can also forgive because I know God dealt with my sins in Christ on the cross.

God knows, you get tired of being treated as if you’re less—less qualified, less competent, less intelligent, less trustworthy, less valued, less worthy of respect—simply because of your skin. You need to be a Christian to survive and keep your sanity!

“My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Nowhere is that more true than in the church! Racism, favoritism, injustice and sinful bias will be in this sinful world until Jesus comes back, but it has no place among the people of God. Christian, make sure you do your part to insure that your church is striving to be a fellowship where all kinds of people can feel welcome, valued, included and loved (and I’m so sorry the mainline church has co-opted and corrupted perfectly good words like “welcoming” and “inclusive”. Know that I am in no way suggesting that the church be “welcoming” and “inclusive” in the sense of condoning that which the Bible clearly describes as sin. But, also know that skin color, ethnicity, single parenthood, poverty and lack of sophistication or formal education are not sins.). I’m grateful that my family and I have found such a church.

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