Are We Post-Racial?

Are we a post-racial society?

Back in 2008, during the past presidential election, a theme among those supporting President Obama was that with his ascension to the White House would come the fall of racism in our society. After his inauguration, people suggested that we were now a post-racial society and he was a post-racial president. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but…

From my perspective, over the last four years, our society has become more racially divided, not less. It seems we lulled ourselves into believing racism was no longer a problem. What has happened over the last few years is that we discovered just below the surface are some deep seeded racial attitudes.

The cartoon to the left was from a “Values Voters Summit” last September. The cartoon to the
right was published not long after President Obama was elected. The monkey represented President Obama. At best, both cartoons are racially insensitive. At worst, they are examples of racism. (I guess racism is in the eye of the beholder. I think they are both racist.) There are far worst examples of racist cartoons I could have posted, but I think you get the idea.

When a white person, like myself, brings up examples and issues of racism, many of my white friends immediately give examples of “reverse racism.” When it comes to politics they mention the other side comparing President Bush to Hitler and all the terrible things said about him. Yes, President Bush did endure horrible attacks. But since when do two wrongs make a right? Besides, the attacks on Bush were not racist, but political and philosophical. Furthermore, does the fact that white people have experienced racism mean that racism does not exist? Can we not talk about racism because we know of white people who have been discriminated against? It seems to me, examples of reverse racism should make us more aware and more willing to talk about race, not less.

Here’s the difference between the racism most whites experience compared to the racism most blacks experience. Whites experience individual racism. In other words, it’s one person, who for whatever reason, feels another person treated them unfairly because of their race. Blacks experience, not only individual racism, but institutional racism. In other words, at times, they feel entire systems of society have treated them unfairly. I can no more judge the validity of their experience with institutional racism then they can judge my experience with individual racism. However, and please read this next sentence carefully, I believe it is impossible for members of the dominant group to truly experience racism, especially institutional racism. (Maybe I will explain that sentence more in a future post.)

When situation arise that bring race to the forefront of our minds, people from the dominant group want to hurry up and get the discussion over with. They will say things like, “Race would no longer be an issue if ‘race baiters’ did not keep brining it up.” “We are not the ones spreading hate…they are.” “The minority community just needs to get over it.” “Can’t we all just get along?”

If the issue that brings race to the forefront is violent, the dominant group immediately gives examples of a person from a minority group killing a person from the dominant group. Or, even worse, they give examples of all the people in minority groups killing others in the same minority group.

And the point of those examples is what?

If anything, all those examples are screaming for our society to come together and try and solve huge issues in the minority communities and huge issues involving race, racism, and discrimination.

Right now our society is not post-racial. But if we use events in recent days in a constructive way, we can begin down the path that will lead to a better world.

What do you think?


8 thoughts on “Are We Post-Racial?

  1. Since I think that my comment on your earlier facebook inspired your post let me go on to clarify what I was saying and to disagree with you on a point or two. First let me say that I abhore racism of any kind. That includes any race. I don’t assume that because a race is in the minority that they are incapable of racism. Individual or institutional. All racism is sin. In my last pastorate I had 4 interacial couples. They did not feel accepted in white or black churches. But they did feel accepted by Me and the church I pastored. I could not condone the racism of the white or black churches that made them feel that way.

    I will have to disagree with you on two points. First of all, I disagree with the thought that institutional racism is not present towards people that are non-African American. In the city which I live we have a predominantly Aftrican American Government. Maybe 60%. The official stated hiring practice of the city for outside contractors is that they Must be Minorities unless there are no minorities available to fill that contract. Have I missed something or is this not institutional racism. I know that this is not politically correct. But as you have stated two wrongs do not make a right. Or do they?

    I am just saying that racism is wrong in all it’s forms. I don’t even like seeing the race thing asked on a form. I simply write in “human race” on those. Because we are all humans created in the image of God.

    Another institutionally racist example would be the Black Liberation Theology churches such as the famed Reverend Wright. Am I wrong here again. I use my pulpit to teach from the Word of God. The very heart of the Gospel condems racism in any form. Any form. Matter of fact the Bible doesn’t really emphasis race when it comes to salvation.
    All may be saved.

    Secondly, I would agree with you that we do not live in a post racial society. I would point to the fact that all those would continue to say we need to dig into the old wounds for healing sometimes serve to perpetuate racial division. And many quite frankly simply do it for a paycheck. If racism goes away then they have no marked for their movement. So they want it to stay alive and stired up.

    What ever happened to just loving people no matter what their race is. I just think we should judge people by the content of their character not the color of their skin. That sounds familiar. Or do we really mean that.

    I hope you understand that because I see the Trayvon death as a travesty spiritually more than a racial thing does not mean I have some deep seeded racism boiling under the surface.

    I am simply saying that until we stop exploiting these tragedies for political or social gains we will never start seeing healing among the races. As for me I will continue to see people as God’s creations not as African, Anglo, Hispanic etc.

  2. We will never be post racial in this age. Our Enemy (insert favorite epithet/ moniker for chief Evil Spirit here) is determined to sow discord and strife wherever he can, Racial and ethnic differences are too personal and easy for him to exploit, And it not limited to Black Americans vs White Americans vs Hispanics vs Native vs Asian, nor only Christian vs Muslim vs Hebrew vs Bahai vs Buddhist vs Hindu, or Mormon vs Evangelical vs Liturgical, vs Catholic, or even Sunni vs Shiite vs Alawite vs Hashemite, vs Wahabi.

    Depressed yet? I could go on, and you know it.

    The key is getting people, at the individual level first, to want to set aside the differences in favor of our similarities. This is closely associated with “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” which is one’s self first, your close associates next, the community beyond.

    Thank God He is bigger than the bad guy.

    This is why I have such little respect for Sharpton, Jackson, and their associates. In screaming for justice they want vengeance, which is not the same. The equality they demand is equality at the expense of others, which is not the same. They do not speak of love, giving, sacrifice, only of what “They,” (and make no mistake that is intended as a separator by Jackson and associates) are owed.

    And yes, the ones screaming back at them are frequently worse (I will avoid always, but it may be indicated). I must confess to frequently being uncharitable towards the “shouting class” myself out of frustration.

    Christ’s example was always for blessings to flow out from one’s self, not to be accumulated to one’s self. I know that is what you preach Kevin. That is why your church is seeing success. In fact I don’t think anything above is new to you.

    The increase in racial tension was prophesied by Jesus as a sign of the End of the Age. But we do not have to surrender to it. In fact, we must stand against the Chaos as long as we can, for we were born to this conflict. And “Greater is HE that is in us than he that is in the world.”

    Try Anchorage sometime. 92 languages spoken. Societies from all parts of the globe, every continent represented in significant numbers. It is amazing to see Korean young people aggressively evangelizing the streets and festivals of this area for Christ. They are determined to bring Jesus back to the U.S. One at a time, individually.

    Take heart in the struggle. It is why we born, We are equipped for it. And we are never alone. Lord, I pray, change my heart today.

  3. Great post! I too have a hard time beliving that the dominant race (whites) can ever truly experience racism. Prejudice or discrimination? Sure. Simply by being white and being born with “white priveledge”, I will never experience the things that blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc. experience. I never have to worry about being pulled over because I “look suspicious”. I never have salespeople follow me around the store. I never have people make fun of my accent or tell me to “go back where I came from”. Racism is alive and well, and until we stop denying it, nothing will ever get better. We need to better educate ourselves on cultures outside of our own and try and walk in someone else’s shoes for a bit. I have no doubt that some white people have felt discriminated against at some point or another. But even on your worst day as a white person, you still have more power than most people of color.

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