I am going to delve into another sensitive area in this blog post. I grew up hearing from black people that we don’t have the ability to discriminate. This may come as a shock to every other race on the planet. In order to explain this unique perspective on the issue, allow me to define the word discriminate.
First, the dictionary defines discrimination as: “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” That definition pretty much says it all. It would appear to be all inclusive. However, living life as an African American I ran across an interesting time and space anomaly. I was told that African Americans cannot discriminate, we really can’t be racists. Yes, you read that right. If you want to understand the heart of so many misunderstandings, you need to understand this concept.
It is a belief held by far more African Americans that you may realize. I know in writing this blog, I risk having my Black card pulled. Nevertheless, I am willing to take that risk. I am revealing insider information, but in my heart, I am convinced the truth needs to be told. So many conversations go right to race because of this underlining belief system. I think the racial divide in this country is ripping apart the fabric of the nation and putting us at risk of destroying ourselves and the freedoms that many of our ancestors have bled and died to defend.
The Great Divide:
White America looks at America and thinks, “Hey this isn’t the sixties. There are no more whites-only restrooms. Blacks can live anywhere they want. We have affirmative action to make things fair where they appear unfair. And the topper is we elected the first black president in Barak Obama. It seems like we are making progress, right?” That is what they think.
In the minds of the black community, very little has changed. You see, the black community is using these factors as a measuring stick. From a Huffington Post article by Jeff Nesbit here are the indicators:
- Black preschoolers are far more likely to be suspended than white children, according to an NPR report. Black children makeup 18 percent of the pre-school population, but represent almost half of all out-of-school suspensions.
- Once they get to K-12, black children are three times more likely to be suspended than white children. Black students make up almost 40 percent of all school expulsions, and more than two-thirds of students referred to police from schools are either black or Hispanic, says the Department of Education.
- The disparities exist in our neighborhoods and communities. Take income. In 2014, the median household income for whites was $71,300 compared to $43,300 for blacks. But for college-educated whites, the median household income was $106,600, significantly higher than the $82,300 for households headed by college-educated blacks, the report found.
- A black man is three times more likely to be searched at a traffic stop, and six times more likely to go jail than a white person. Blacks make up nearly 40 percent of arrests for violent crimes.
- Blacks aren’t pulled over (and subsequently jailed) more frequently because they’re more prone to criminal behavior, they’re pulled over much more frequently because there is an “implicit racial association of black Americans with dangerous or aggressive behavior,” the Sentencing Project found.
I give you this information because in the black community, these kinds of numbers, these disparities prove there is an institutional problem. While one side of the equations sees progress the other side is only frustrated by the lack of progress. So when those two opposing ideologies realities collide you get Ferguson, MO. You get rioting in Baltimore because the people who feel oppressed also feel no one is paying attention. I am not saying by any means, this is the best way to handle it, but realize the perception is that the institution is against them. So if the institution is against you, any emotions and feelings you have that may be racist are justified because you are the oppressed racial group. Again, do I agree with that? No. Do I understand the frustration? Yes. Have I figured out all the answers? No. What advice can I give both groups? Communicate.
How Do We Begin The Conversation?
- We need to acknowledge the current realities.
While as one song puts it, “You have come a long way, baby,” we still have a long way to go. The hurt was created over the course of hundreds of years. The history books have tried to soften the effects, even hide the truth. However, the pain is real, the cuts are deep. It will take time and intentional effort to move forward.
- We need to approach the situation with a loving and forgiving spirit:
Forgiveness is not a human thing, it is a God-size accomplishment. This is no human solution to fix this problem it will require heavenly intervention. Remember this, nothing is too big for our God. Here is a biblical truth.
What does it mean, “to forgive” in the Greek? Literally, aphiemi means “to send away” or “to make apart”. A graphic image I’ve used is, if sin is “missing the mark” not hitting the perfect bulls-eye forgiveness is “removing” or “taking away” all the errant arrows that have missed perfection. Nothing imperfect remains. They have been “sent away” — “removed”. This is the direction in which, this racial issue needs to arrive at. Where we not only forgive each other but send away all the issues that divide us. We need to form a new relationship that is not so grounded in the past that it taints the present. Then and only then can we avoid the hurts we keep doing to each other. This is only one in an ongoing series of blogs on race. Other new additions come out every Tuesday. Stay tuned.
Other blogs in this series:
Links to the statistics: