Can we please stop talking about race? Probably not. But I think that we’d be better off if we did.
No, I’m not saying that we need to start ignoring the racism that obviously still exists in our culture. And I’m not telling victims of racism to get over it. I’m just saying that maybe it’s time for a new approach.
For years we’ve been told that we need to have a national conversation about race. So that’s what we’ve done. But the results have been less than stellar. Instead of harmony, this long conversation has left us confused, scared and even more angry than before.
Earlier this week I read an article that was a part of our long national conversation on race. The article was basically saying that everything from your choice of cupcakes at the bakery to the names you give to your offspring can reveal your level of racism. Pardon my confusion, but how exactly does such a conversation help the fact that we just simply can’t get along in this country? Do we need a National Summit on Cupcake Buying?
Ironically, this so-called conversation has ruined our ability to talk. Shortly after the terror attacks in Paris I was watching a live television news report of the aftermath where two talking heads were giving play-by-play of what was happening on the screen. At one point, a black man stepped into the camera’s view. Here’s how it was described.
Talking Head #1: “The building in question is the one that the African American gentleman just walked out of.”
Talking Head #2: “We don’t know if he’s African. Or American. This is Paris, remember?”
Reports are still coming in but I believe that the man drove an African American car and had a Caucasian American tablecloth in his kitchen.
The end result of our constant conversing about race is that it’s all turned into a joke. Everything is racist. The Academy Awards are racist. The Grammy’s are racist. The guy who wasn’t a big fan of Selma is a racist. The girl who really does believe that Beyoncé’s album was better than Beck’s is a racist.
Everything is racist.
Well, except for the stuff that actually is.
But no one is talking about that. Who has the time with all of the Oscar and Grammy buzz along with that African American fellow in Paris who has probably never set foot in African or America?
If you really want to do something about racism in this country, stop listening to and participating in the conversation. Start examining your own heart. If you look hard enough, you’ll find some racism. And then repent. But remember, repentance doesn’t mean just saying that you’re sorry or feeling guilty.
Anyone can apologize for the racist actions of his forefathers hundreds of years ago.
Only the truly repentant can apologize for his own racist actions last Tuesday.
But it doesn’t stop there. True repentance will carry over into another conversation. A different one. One that is more sincere. One that does not involve Academy Awards, Al Sharpton or Beck. It’s one that just involves you. And the guy across the street with the different color skin. And maybe your kitchen table and a good home cooked meal.
Racism will never be stopped by some federal summit, confusing newspaper articles or guilt tripping national conversations. Before the return of Christ, racism will always be with us. But that doesn’t mean that we have to get used to it, learn to accept it or participate in it ourselves.
It just means that we need to come to grips with the fact that our long national conversation isn’t working.
What we really need is a long look into our own hearts.
And then a long meal, cup of coffee or talk at your kid’s practice with that guy down the street who looks different from you.
When you actually get to know that guy, he suddenly stops being, “the African American gentleman” or “the white guy in the big truck” and he starts being another human being created in the image of God and in need of a Savior. In other words, he’s just like you.
So can we please stop talking about race?
Instead, maybe we could just start talking to people of another race?
This kind of conversation may not get a lot of media attention.
But it’s likely to change our hearts.
And that just might change the world.