Though, I believe, well intentioned, I was taught that,
a. racism is evil.
b. God made all humanity of one blood and nature, so differences are only skin deep.
c. racism was primarily a blight of the past with only a handful of racists here and there.
d. Christians and the civil rights movement fixed the problem and now America is fair for everyone, we live in a true meritocracy, no existing laws or customs favor one race over another, and discrimination is illegal.
e. anyone who goes to school, lives a moral life, and works hard can become Bill Gates in America.
f. the best way to end racism is to ignore race.
g. seeing race or allowing it to figure into social, church, economic, or political calculations is itself racist.
This was all well and good as a child, especially attending an all White church, going to an all White school, and living in an all White community. But as I grew, observed the world, and learned more, it was clear that the predominantly minority city next to ours was much poorer with much more crime. I learned that inner city, predominantly Black and Latinx schools performed much worse than did mine. I learned that Black Americans were disproportionately represented in the prison population. I learned that the unemployment rate was much higher among Black Americans, that wealth was wildly disproportionate, etc. I saw Reagan’s depictions of “welfare queens,” then Clinton’s “super predators,” and that Black Americans were always shown in the media as hard, unmarried, philandering, dangerous “gang-bangers.”
Having believed in items (a) through (g) above, what was I to do with this information (much of which was actually false)? How is possible that, by and large, one or two people-groups just couldn’t figure out how to be successful and get along, despite living in a nation and culture greater, more equal, and more free than anywhere in the world (I’d supposed)? It couldn’t be because of biology, given my Christian commitment, and as per (b) above.
Conservatives offered another answer: culture. I rolled with that idea for a while; “What’s wrong with Black people is not that they’re Black, it’s their culture.” But it became increasingly clear that this was no less racist than the biology claim. It was, in many ways, literally identical! (Especially once one learns what “race” and “culture” actually mean.) That is, I loved all races and wished no ill will on anyone AND was at precisely the same time also a stone-cold racist! (But if you’d told me that, I’d probably have said that YOU were the real racist, hahaha.)
Finally, through the course of many events, including the writing at RAAN and some fantastic brothers and sisters here on the internets, I was called out and shown that my fabricated view of the world was not as accurate as I thought it was, especially my historical ineptitude. I began to truly listen, step down off my intellectual throne, and submit to those who suffered under everything I had earlier claimed was their own fault. I began to study, with new eyes, the history of America and beyond. The more I learned and the more I conversed, I realized how lied to I had been for so much of my life and how deeply complicit and active I was in perpetuating these lies.
In short, I was forced by overwhelming evidence, by a true understanding of Jesus and His gospel, and by the love I ought to have always had for His people and creation, to jettison and condemn as an absolute lie teachings (d) through (g) above. These ideas, of my own well-meaning parents and culture, were a fruit of the World, not of God; a fruit of an extra-Biblical social theory that was born in social history, not inscribed in nature, written in the hearts of men, or exegeted from the Scripture. And to be 100 % clear, the root of these ideas, particularly (d) – (g), was and is as sinister as those which justified slavery, Jim Crow, and the racial exploitation that has existed ever since “race” itself was invented for those very purposes.
Anyhow, I could’ve probably stated this all better, and I apologize it’s rough & anemic. I just really hope & pray that my own experience might help others, anyone would be great, to see how supposedly well meaning ideas can lead right down the well-trodden path to racism.