Racist? You tell me.

The person sharing a devotional was telling a story about a person whose presence had scared him.  Included in the description was that the “man was big and black.”

Since the audience for this devotional was 98% anglo, identifying the man as black had the intended effect.  I paid attention through the rest of the story for any other reason for the man’s race to have been mentioned.There was none

I think the next time I hear something like that, I’m going to interrupt and ask why race would be mentioned.

To us white folk, this may not seem like much, but it’s got to stop.

7 thoughts on “Racist? You tell me.

  1. Steve,
    I really go back and forth on this one. I think the question of what is the point and what is the intent of including ‘race’? Is it just to point out a further description, or it is because the person believes African Americans, Hispanics, Europeans, are scary looking?
    I have heard descriptions like, ‘looked like a football player,’ ‘the guy looked like an Italian mobster’ etc.
    Of course you also know I beleive there is only one race, the human race, and that beyond that it is just pigment. Sometimes I feel like I am tired of apologising because I am white.

  2. Given the fact that the person sharing prefaced the “big and black” phrase with “a person whose presence scared him,” I would contend this is racism. I would also contend that as anglo-Americans we don’t think it is racism…maybe the root of the problem is indeed our thought process…or lack thereof!?! I can’t remember the last time I heard someone talk about an Anglo-American they were afraid of as “big and white.” Yet, there are many overwhelming people out and about that cause us to pause for one reason or another. Steve, I appreciate your willingness to ask the deeper questions.

  3. Steve, I believe the fact that he said the “man was big and black” is a tacit acknowledgement of latent racism. I think any time race is a factor in any conversation we are dealing with “racism.” Although, the African-American population has been particularly targeted because of their slave status, anytime the color of skin or national origin becomes a factor, racism is present.

  4. Changing the language we use to describe a person while leaving the underlying socioeconomic issues that lead to the statistical link between race, poverty and crime untouched is far more racist than being politically incorrect.

    So, perhaps instead of changing the language we use we should work to change a self-selecting racism on both sides that results in 98% Anglo devotional gatherings, and work to change systemic racism and classism that traps people in a self perpetuating cycle of poverty, single parent homes and crime.

  5. I will say that this is probably as much a cultural phenomenon as it is ‘racism.’ I remember my black roommate from Kenya in seminary railing on African Americans as lazy people. I tried to talk to him about systemic racism, and cyclic poverty etc. He didn’t care. He would always point to his own skin and say people see him as a black man, and that it was no excuse.
    I will also say that it it time we see people as people. We do far too often resort to describing someone by the colour of their skin instead of the content of their character. I still beleive in this ‘dream.’
    Btw, Steve, you will find this funny I think, but I was in the shower a week or two ago and realised that Elika will be eligible for all types of minority scholarships. It just never dawned on me before that my daughter was a ‘minority.’

  6. I grew up with assumed racism and am disgusted with the constraints of my thought patterns because of it.

    I have deliberately worked to realign my though processes and will continue as long as I have my wits about me.

    In an episode of All In The Family from the 70’s Archie addressed a young, black plumber as “boy.” He actually did this innocently and without malice.
    The young man said, “I don’t like that. You calling me ‘boy.'”
    Archie said, “Well I’m a man. I don’t go around making a point of it.”
    The plumber replied, “You never had to.”

    I was a transitional generation away from racism in my family. My children grew up without it at home and I expect them to continue to help get rid of it with their own children.

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