Friday, March 20, 2015

The Lense of Race

It's been far to long since I last wrote. But finally I've been compelled to speak out about something that is troubling me because it affects people I know and love and prevents them from walking in freedom.

It is racism. Now when one talks about politically charged or controversial topics, it's best to define terms. The dictionary tells me that racism is the act of determining the value of a human being based solely on their heritage. For this article however I'm using it as it's often used in our society which I will define thusly as: an inability to perceive characteristics beyond skin color in the valuation and evaluation of another human being.

I myself am not a racist. Skin color doesn't matter, I don't care where you were born, and I don't care why you look the way you do. But I have friends who do, and it troubles me, because I can't talk to them about it. It's a taboo subject.

I know I know, even freaking Starbucks wants us to talk about race, but that's the problem. We are all talking about how they hurt them and how much so-and-so should pay for the hurts of the past. No one is talking about treating human beings like human beings. It's not about your herritage, we are all human after all. It is really all about treating others as humans. And to do that we have to first see others firstly as human beings.

If you ask me what I am, I'll tell you I'm human. If you ask me who I am, I'll tell you I'm a son of God. If you ask me my gender I will tell you male. That is my identity summed up at it's most basic and most essential. There is no inherent racism in my assessment of myself, and so I don't assess the rest of the world through a lens of racism.

I do however assess the world through a lens of religion, and gender, you can see that by how I define myself. How I treat other religions and females would indicate the quality of my character. However I do not see myself as white, black, hyspanic, asian, etc. I have herritage sure, it defines how I look, but doesn't define who I am. I am still human after all.

But I have friends, and I love these friends, yet they are blind to the fact that they are racists. They don't just stop at Species, Religion, and Gender as their primary defining aspects of who they are, no the first part of their self definition, as they have stated on occasion, is their heritage. When they speak of themselves in a conversation discussing these things, their heritage or really their skin color is the first defining characteristic they select, before moving on to the others. It saddens me because these friends keep themselves trapped in ignorance, and self persecution.

The Bible teaches us that in Christ we are all equal, there being neither male nor female nor Jew or gentile, or slave or free in Christ. But while we are told that we must still respect our gender and the gender of others for their unique giftings (a whole 'nother topic) no where are we told to respect any longer the heritage and social class of ourselves or others. In fact we are specifically told to disregard them, and treat all equally with love and respect.

But how can you treat others with this love and respect, if you see your own self through a racist lens? If you are defining yourself as a black man or a black woman, you are seeing yourself through the lens of racism. How then can you not see the rest of the world through the lens of racism? I know of no white individual who calls themselves a white man or woman, but it's pretty common for the black people I know to define themselves first and foremost through the color of their skin.

Through this lens people who disagree with you become racists. Those who may not like you become racists. You see negativity through a racist lens. You see this article as written by someone who has absolutely no understanding of your racist trials in America.

As I said before, we all have lenses, but only three are upheld by the Bible: the religious lens, the gender lens and the species lens. But if you're seeing the world through the racist lens, I can't even have this discussion with you. You immediately disregard what I say because of the lens you see the world through.

I hope I am wrong, I hope this opens peoples eyes to see the error of their own lenses. But this complicates the bigger picture. As previously stated, everyone wants to have a discussion about race, but few of these discussions are helpful, and most are one sided diatribes about the white privilege that help no one but those who maintain power by keeping a certain population angry at "whitey."

If we truly wish to solve this problem we must first recognize that we are all human. Get rid of the racist lenses and see ourselves firstly as humans. Then with this recognition, the discussion about race ends, and we can begin moving forward in figuring out how best to help others who are still trapped behind the race lens.

Until then though, I will not be a part of racist discussions. I may not be able to make you see the light, but I can stop feeding the victimization attitude of the racist lens by refusing to go along with this false narrative.

With love and respect,
-Libertatis Maximus