This Is My Confession
I have been a racist. Now let me clarify. I was raised near the cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. I grew up used to diversity around me. I live in a small-town West Virginia now, and to be honest, whenever I go to a city for a conference or to visit friends, I realize how much I miss the diversity I grew up around. Having lived in and among diversity when I encounter a black person, Asian, or Latino person, the different ethnicities don't register with me. I notice that they look different than me, but that is about it. I lived around different ethnicities. So how can I say the statement – I have been a racist?
It started way back when I was a kid with the Rodney King beatings and the LA riots that followed. I remember thinking how dumb it was that they responded in such a way over one guy getting beat up. When I was in high school, I remember all the white kids in my class (including me) showing their disgust while all the black kids jumped up for joy and screamed and hugged when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty. Now to my adult life. I know there have been many other examples in the past 20 years, but I am including these significant events for time's sake. When I heard about the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, the riots that followed, and my first thoughts were that they probably deserved it. That is how I have been racist.
I have not been a racist because I treat anyone of any skin color any different; it is not because I thought less about someone who is part of a minority. It was because when something happened to a person of color, I never considered skin color to be part of the equation. That is due primarily to the fact that it never entered the equation in my interactions with anyone. Either how I treated anyone or how anyone treated me. I have been one of the people who (I hate to admit this now) would say that racism is still alive because black people won’t let it die.
I have waited a couple of weeks to write about this. For the first time in my life, I wanted to wait, listen, learn, hear, educate myself, pray, search the Bible, and seek council. God has, through this, revealed a sinful, terrible racist attitude in my heart. When something would happen to a person of color, I would get annoyed, even angry, when people would mention skin color as part of the reason it happened.
I want to be clear. I was not raised to be racist. My parents taught me and modeled for me how to treat everyone the same. However, racism is alive and very strong in our nation today. As I spent time listening, I learned so much from people that have helped me see the evil of racism in our country and, as I have already confessed, the sin of racism within me.
I have had no problem turning a blind eye to the actions of individuals all the while claiming racial innocence because I wouldn't act that way, or I never owned slaves, I have black friends, I never treat anyone any different. I would say people need to get over it. If the events of the last few months (including how Asians are being treated due to Covid-19) have shown us anything, it is that racism is real.
I have seen and realized that I have never had to fear how people would respond to me if I were jogging down the road, moved in next door, sent my kids the same school, or went to the park to play with my family. Men, women, and children of minority groups have had to worry about that. My silence last few weeks (not that anyone was waiting on pins and needles for my thoughts) has been purposeful and patient. My silence over the years has been inexcusable. This writing is my confession, but I want my actions to move past me now. I want to make it about the men, women, and children all over the world that have lived with this. I want to encourage them, support them, to build them up. I don’t want to be a social media vigilante. I want to be part of the change. You won’t see me rioting or lashing out in violence, but I do want to stand. I want to stand side-by-side with you. As I said, this is my confession, but this is also my cry. Teach me. Please show me how I can stand. Let me know how I can help. What can I do? What can I say?
God has graciously given me this small platform to use to bring the light of this His truth – we are, as humans, all marked by our creator God, and we should treat one another with the dignity in which he created us – into the darkness that is over us now. The gospel truth is that the Gospel is the answer. Jesus came to die for us and pay the penalty that we could not pay. In Revelation 7:9-10 we read, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Jesus came to make a bride, the Church, for God's glory out of all peoples, no matter their language, skin color, or country of origin.
I heard a lady on a podcast say recently that a lot of people are excited right now, but they are not activists. Excited means you want to talk about and honestly see change. Activist means you want to make the necessary sacrifices to see the change. Jesus became active when he died on the cross for us. I don't want to be excited; I want to be like Jesus, active.