Where does racism come from?

God's Glory is revealed in suffering Rev. Jeff GannonHave you noticed the number of articles in the newspaper recently which describe a renewed vigor of racism and racist activity?

Recently, a noose was found in the newly created Smithsonian museum sponsored African American museum in Washington, DC. Click on this link to read the article for yourself. Four days before this most recent incident, another noose was found dangling from a tree outside of the museum. Here is a quote from the article. “The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity – a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans,” Lonnie Bunch III, the founding director of the museum, said in a statement. “Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face.”

Labron James’ home in Los Angeles was recently vandalized and racial epithets were left spray painted on his home. You can click here for the story.

It has been reported that the recent hate crime in Portland is rooted in deeper tendencies toward a renewed expression of racism in that city. Please click here to read more.

This week, when I took the Confirmation Class to the local mosque to learn about Islam, our tour guide, a white woman, shared her experience. She married a Middle-Eastern man and found it was difficult to live in Atlanta because of their inter-racial marriage.

One of our neighbors in Bel Aire was telling me her daughter was seriously dating a man who is a different race. They began to talk marriage. The boy’s grandparents threatened him that if he did not break off the upcoming engagement and dating relationship, they would exclude him from their will and refuse to ever see him again. I asked the mother what she said to her daughter upon hearing about the experience her daughter went through. She said, “You cannot forget you are black!”

Where does racism come from?

Apart from television, I did not see a person of color until I went to college. But, I never heard my mother say anything negative about persons with skin colors different than our own.

So how do people learn to be racist? Obviously, it is learned behavior. Our children and youth listen and learn. They observe and remember. Racism is caught long before it is directly taught. The good news is that what is learned can be unlearned. I firmly believe racism is evil because it dehumanizes persons created in the image and likeness of God. By God’s design, we are diverse and yet one. Unity in diversity is God’s plan for the whole of creation. And when we have a vision for humanity that is different from God’s, we devalue and dishonor other people.

So what is the solution? I have a strong opinion that one who is bigoted in any way, is a person who is functioning on fear. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (I John 4:18) Therefore, the opposite of love is not hate. It is fear. Fear unchecked and unresolved will always lead to some form of hate. And what is the antidote to fear? Biblically, it is trust. Trust Jesus because Jesus is trustworthy. And, when we trust deeply we live in complete surrender to the One whose love will never let us go! A love that will never let us down. And, a love that will never let us off (the hook).

–Rev. Jeff Gannon

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