I'm not a racist ... am I?
The shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month has ignited a maelstrom of fear, accusation, innuendo and suspicion. The "R" word — racism — has re-entered the news.
Racism is an ugly word, one we in America like to relegate to our "ancient" history (from the last century). Since the ugliness of the "Jim Crow" laws and the civil rights demonstrations of the '60s to nasty reactions to immigrants (the Irish, the Italians, the Vietnamese, the Cubans, or the Mexicans) to the Rodney King debacle in the 1990s.
Living in an area of limited racial diversity (Caucasian or Hispanic) doesn't mean we're immune to racism. Wherever there is a cultural divide of any kind, the opportunity for racism exists.
According to the dictionary, racism is a "prejudice against certain peoples." Prejudice, by definition, is "an opinion, often unfavorable, formed with adequate reasons." Prejudice is to "pre-judge."
As more facts surface, it's becoming apparent that George Zimmerman judged Trayvon Martin as a threat based primarily on his appearance. It's possible Martin viewed Zimmerman the same way.
That's the trouble with prejudice ... by the time the pre-judging has occurred, it's too late to repair the damage that has occurred. In the Martin-Zimmerman case, the damage was fatal, a life lost.
For the average person, prejudice rears its ugly head in relationships. We prejudge the people we come in contact with based on skin tone, sex, age, language, dress, hairstyle, tattoos, piercings ... or some other criteria. And in so doing, we cut ourselves out of opportunities to witness to the lost, chances to be ministered to by others, and the riches of diversity God put in His creation.
The root of racism, I believe, is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the unfamiliar, and fear of what we do not understand. Fear can cause us to reject the very thing that would save us...
"Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid."
According to our standard, the Word of God, fear doesn't come from God at all ... fear is the offspring of the enemy:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim 1:7)As members of the Body of Christ, we need to remind ourselves that the resurrection of Christ removed the barriers that separate one segment of humanity from another.
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Creek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."As questions about race and prejudice are stirred up in the media, it's important for us as Christians to remember there's no such thing as race in the eyes of God. May we be the catalysts for peace.
About the Author: Niki writes fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. She can be found at her own blog, In Truer Ink, in addition to posting here. She was a 2009 finalist in the Faith, Hope, and Love "Touched by Love" contest.