My Personal Take on Racism
It is no secret that America has a long and complicated history with race. For centuries, America was home to slavery and racism, two issues that continue to plague the country to this day. This history has created a divide between the races in America, and segregation can be witnessed today in many ways ranging from demographics, education, voting status, and employment.
For many years, I thought it was disappearing and significant progress was being made. From my personal experiences, it hasn’t been a big issue but I’m also a white male and according to many, that puts me in a category of privilege regardless of my background, views, or experiences. I cannot help but see the evil in the divide and I pray that somehow it will end. I realize it is not something that can happen overnight but I’m a tad frustrated that it appears that we are headed in the wrong direction. My non-expert, white-male advice, would be to eliminate all programs, organizations, and movements to truly equal the playing field and create a culture where it simply does not exist.
I believe the divide between blacks and whites is less than the media and politicians portray it and many of the stories or movements such as Black Lives Matter seems to incite racism. Don’t all lives matter? I grew up in a family that focused on African missions, a mentor of mine is African American, and many of my closest friends in ministry are black. My mother actually said, “she’s pretty cute for a white girl” when I brought a date over to their house to meet her in my twenties. I mention these experiences because I am a white male that is truly colorblind when it comes to skin. It has never been part of my life so I have always felt that racism was ridiculous. I did not, and still do not understand how programs such as affirmative action, equal opportunity, or others that take race into account over expertise are helping in any way? I realize I’m looking at it through a white male lens, however, I also could argue that in many ways white males are considered the enemy by many regardless of their views or upbringing. If I love everyone, and honestly want the best for anyone, then why am I being punished for my own personal advancement?
When I was applying to colleges straight out of high school (with honors), I was considering Michigan and Michigan State University. I was confident I would be accepted to Michigan State however when I spoke to my counselor about applying to Michigan, she asked me “if I had any minority relatives in my family.” I did not apply and went to Michigan State but always felt like it was unfair that diversity mattered more than qualifications. A year later, I was in a leadership class at MSU and was chosen to defend against Affirmative Action in a debate against a black female. The class pronounced me the winner when the female had little to no response in a segment where we questioned each other. I simply asked, “If we continue to create programs to equal the playing field based on race vs. qualifications, how can institutions claim to provide the best service knowing they didn’t hire the best candidates?” I followed it up with a similar set of questions, “do you really believe that racial programs will end racism? If so, how? If not, how would you end racism?”
Shelby Steele and His Work on Race in America
I knew Shelby Steele was a political voice but I did not realize that he was such a prominent expert on race in America. His work on the topic of race is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the current state of race relations in the United States. Steele argues that “America’s past sins have polarized our country.” He elaborates his argument in his book Shame that whites have become too focused on their own victimization, while blacks have become too focused on victimizing whites. This has led to a situation where neither side is able to see the other’s point of view. As a result, our country is more divided than ever before. Steele’s work is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain an honest expert opinion on the conflict of race that has plagued our country for decades.
As Shelby Steele reveals in his book, America has grown and changed through the history and efforts of many. Historically, vices such as slavery, racism, sexism, and militarism were fought by liberals through protests, court cases, and even war to completely dismantle them in society. Liberals set the ground running for the cause of change of a better America. They attempt to redeem America from its previous sins by creating and modeling effective strategies that promote livelihood, laws, and governance. However, some of the programs have failed over the years, creating more harm to society. The liberals, according to Steele’s book, have lost their focus, and ironically instead of achieving equality, they have exploited and advocated for the pains of the less fortunate in society.
In our community today, the barrier to racial equality currently is not yet over. Shelby Steele argues that the concept in white liberals have installed in the community is that of their superiority over the blacks. The argument that they tend to highlight is that blacks are in need of saving. These concepts undermine liberal social policies as they promote racial inequality among citizens. He also argues that the guidelines not only failed to solve the problem of inequality but also created a challenge and barrier to addressing these issues. “We couldn’t reform our way past this evil; we had to assault it radically.” The problems faced by modern black Americans cannot be discussed equally because of the inconsiderate policies. Furthermore, it has made it difficult to consider blacks and whites as equals both in mind and in practice.
All of this discrimination and prejudice has led to a divide between races in America. There is a lot of mistrust, anger, and resentment between blacks and whites, but I do not understand why? Unfortunately, this divide is still very evident today. This divide has led to discrimination and prejudice against minorities, and it is something that I argue, “we need to stop addressing.” This reminds me of what Apostle Paul said in the gospel; “For in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
 Steele, Shelby. Shame, 44
 Ibid, 74
 Ibid, 99
 Ibid, 99
 Galatians 3:26-29