Racism doesn’t seem to be going away as quickly as had been hoped for. And in fact, some feel that it has gotten worse. While there may not be lynchings every few days***, there are stories after stories of other types of torment that our fellow Black human beings continue to experience here in America.
For any normal person, this makes us uncomfortable. Or, at least it should. And because of that discomfort, we look for a response that fits within our understanding of the situation.
For example, as a dad, whenever a child comes to me with a problem, my natural response is to immediately try to find a solution to the problem. I’m a fixer. I don’t care about the emotions. I don’t care to discuss the problem. I just want to fix whatever is wrong.
However, fixing the problem is only part of the solution. And sometimes, may not really be the solution at all.
Could it be that instead of me fixing the situation, my child just wants to talk to me and discuss their life? If we’re talking about my oldest son or daughter, then yes. That’s probably their desire in most cases.
Because of this, I have to be purposefull in how I respond to them because otherwise I may miss the solution they actually need.
I say all that to say this: One of the responses that often crops up when racism is presented as a problem is that we should all just be color blind.
In theory that sounds great, however, I believe that isn’t the solution and ends up running roughshod over the real answer. I’m sure the people that suggest being color blind have good intentions, especially because I used to think this way. However, it doesn’t really fix the problem.
As a Christian, whenever I need answers to a problem, my first response should be to pray and search the Bible for a solution. Because of this, there are two passages in the New Testament that come to mind in regards to race and the gospel’s understanding of our differences.
In Galatians, Paul is tackling the topics of law and grace. In the midst of declaring our freedom from the law, he makes a statement that has huge ramifications for all of our lives. He says…
“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.” – Galatians 3:28
At first glance of these words, one could infer that being color bind is a biblical concept. If we’re neither Jew nor Greek, then we should turn a blind eye to race in our relationships. Right?
Yes and no.
What this passage is telling us is that we should understand that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we’re all equal. If we’re in Christ, we’ve now all been made sons and daughters of God. The playing field has been leveled. We’re not accepted by God based on our gender, or race, or employment status, rather, we are freely accepted by God because of Jesus.
However, that does not literally change our gender or our employment status, which means it doesn’t literally change our race either.
So to simply say “we should be color blind,” thus disregarding someone’s race to avoid differences, is not the answer.
The second verse in the New Testament that speaks to this discussion is taken from Revelation where John had a vision of what would take place around the throne of God.
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…'” – Revelation 5:9
If we are to be color blind, and disregard any differences, then why are those in heaven singing about our diversity? Yet this is in fact a point of praise to God that He ransomed all of us via Jesus.
God made us different and those differences are actually a part of Heaven’s eternal celebration.
So to just say “oh, we shouldn’t see color when we look at each other” is, in my opinion, trying to offer a quick (maybe cheap) solution to a big, huge, gigantic problem.
So then, what IS the solution to racism?
I believe it is simple, yet apparently, very difficult to achieve.
Loving another human being doesn’t turn a blind eye to who they are, rather, it cherishes the person within the context of who they are.
For the Black Americans I’ve spoken to about this, they don’t want us to disregard the fact that they’re Black, rather they simply want to be loved, and celebrated, and respected, and cherished, and honored as a fellow human being.
They want to be treated as an equally-created-in-the-image-of-God person.
Whether we admit to it or not, we view people through the lens of our understanding of life, as well as through the experiences we personally have had. So if we view people sans color, we can easily and quickly presume that they only know life as we do… thus negating their cultural heritage… thus missing out on the beauty that the differences bring… as well as not understanding (or believing) their racially-motivated negative experiences.
We probably do this because we get uncomfortable around people that are different that us. But, avoiding the differences isn’t the answer. Loving the person, regardless of the difference is.
So when it comes to racism and the call to be color blind, apparently Heaven likes the fact that we’re different, so why shouldn’t we?
*** Did you know that between 1889 to 1929, across the South, there was a lynching or a burning of a Black man once every four days? For more gut-wrenching facts such as these, check out the book: The Warmth Of Other Suns