Last month, we published a Langstaff Letter on “Racism.” We are going to revisit the topic in this letter.
Racism is right at the heart of what politicians and the media are talking about at the moment. Everything is projected as being caused or affected by racism. So let’s have a look at racism and see what the realities of racism are.
PROGRESS IN OVERCOMING RACISM
People tend to go to extremes, and this has undoubtedly happened with racism. American comedian, actor, and producer Kevin Hart reportedly told the New York Times that, “You’re witnessing white power and white privilege at an all-time high” (nytimes.com). Is that so? or has progress been made in the area of racism?
Bill Maher is an American comedian, actor, political commentator, and television host, especially on a talk show on HBO. He comes from a liberal position. Recently, on “Real Time,” Maher ended his show knocking liberals who refused to acknowledge the progress on racial and social issues that has been made in America, “saying that White power and privilege is at an all-time high is just ridiculous. Higher than a century ago, the year of the Tulsa Race Massacre? Higher than the years when the KKK rode unchecked and Jim Crow went unchallenged? Higher than the 1960s when The Supremes and Willie Mays still couldn’t stay at the same hotel as the White people they were working with? Higher than during slavery?’ The ‘Real Time’ host acknowledged that racism ‘is still with us,’ but also stressed that racism ‘is simply no longer everywhere,’ pointing to how the Minneapolis police didn’t support Derek Chauvin’ and that never used to happen'” (foxnews.com).
Add to this fact that a black president, Obama, was elected twice by white people. In addition, we have the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s and the contribution of people like Martin Luther King Jr., who stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.(https://www.americanrhetoric.com)”
RACISM IS BEING USED TO TOUCH EVERYTHING
So, some people think racism has touched everything. Guess what? It is supposedly touching the bird community. It seems that names given to birds have racial overtures.
“The challenge of how to move forward is roiling White ornithologists as they debate whether to change as many as 150 eponyms, names of birds that honor people with connections to slavery and supremacy. The Bachman’s sparrow, Wallace’s fruit dove and other winged creatures bear the names of men who fought for the Southern cause, stole skulls from Indian graves for pseudoscientific studies that were later debunked, and bought and sold Black people. Some of these men stoked violence and participated in it without consequence” (washingtonpost.com).
I never realized racism reached to the bird community.
A POSITIVE STEP FORWARD – JUNETEENTH
This month, President Biden signed into law a measure that establishes Juneteeth as a federal holiday. “President Biden on Thursday signed into law a measure that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday, taking advantage of sudden and broad bipartisan agreement to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States after years of debate and inaction” (washingtonpost.com).
This June 10th goes back to the proclamation (originally made by President Lincoln in 1863) that slaves in Texas were now free. It is good for the nation to have a day to commemorate this act of setting the slaves free.
TULSA RACE RIOTS
Another positive step forward has been to take a hard look at the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921.
It is now 100 years since the little-known but tragic Tulse Race Riots of May 1921. On the Tuesday and Wednesday after Memorial Day, mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses in the Greenwood District. It has been called “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” (presbyterianmission.org). At the time, the Greenwood District was the wealthiest black community in the United States. It was known as the “Black Wallstreet.” It was estimated that anywhere from 75 to 300 people were killed (presbyterianmission.org). However, in the last 100 years, this was not largely known, even in Tulsa.
Recently, the First Baptist Church in Tulsa has created a special prayer room with the aim “to tell the truth about past sins while asking God to bring racial unity” (ministrywatch.com) in the community and the nation.
“Up a short stairway by the congregation’s main worship area, the museum-like exhibit features historical notes, photos, and newspaper clippings, along with suggested prayers… ‘I think we need to confront sin where we can, where we recognize it, and also pray against our own blind spots,’ said Eric Fox, a First Baptist member who came with his wife, Jamey, and their 19-year-old daughter, Kennedy.
‘So, for me, this was a way to take a prayerful approach, to do some self-examination, some self-reflection, but also to pray for myself, my family, my church, my community,’ added Fox, a former history teacher who serves as an associate principal at Jenks High School, one of Oklahoma’s largest high schools.” (ministrywatch.com).
RACISM AND THE POLICE FORCE, ETC.
Much of the unrest in America in recent times has centered around incidents involving black people that have died at the hands of police. The most publicized example of this took place in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. This resulted in protests, that in many cases, turned into riots. In all this, the assertion is that black people have been the victims of racism.
It is often said that there are three kinds of lies, white lies, black lies, and statistics. Statistics can often be made to prove anything we want them to. Nevertheless, we need to note that more white people are killed by police than black people. It is just that the incidents involving black people get more attention in the media. For a more detailed survey, see – (lawenforcementtoday.com).
Also, one has to note the number of police officers killed in the line of duty. It is staggering. Rather than defund the police, let us support them and pray for them. We need them.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
I was born in Sydney, Australia, and lived there for 45 years before being led by the Lord for my family and I to move to America in 1980. Since then, I have become an American citizen and, after some 40+ years, consider myself an American (although I still love Australia too).
There is one experience of racism in America that has stayed on my mind. In Australia, the only football I knew was Rugby League and also Soccer. When I came to America, I needed to understand American football. I love watching sporting events. In the course of watching and reading about it all, I realized that the key person in any football team is the quarterback. I then observed that while there were plenty of black Americans in other positions, like running back, there were virtually no black quarterbacks at that time. I asked people why this was so. It was never spoken out clearly, but I got the insinuation that “they are not smart enough.” That is racism.
Now I have discovered that was not the reason. It was that there were few black quarterbacks in college football that could move into the big time. That has changed, and now there are some exceptional black quarterbacks.
From that experience, I concluded that all of us, myself included, need to ask God to examine our hearts to see if there be any racism deep within. Psalm 51:10 (NKJV) says: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
YOUNG PEOPLE IN GERMANY
Our eldest daughter lives in Germany, and consequently, we have two grandchildren who have been brought up in German schools. One of the things they experienced was going to the Holocaust sites to see and hear firsthand, so to speak, the story of what happened in the Jewish Holocaust in World War II.
Today’s young people need to be taught about the unpleasant, tragic, and violent aspects of our history, which of course, is particularly related to slavery. It need not be done in such a way as to have them hating America. Instead, let them realize that we are a flawed nation that God has chosen to use for His purpose. They can recognize the evils of the past but still see the greatness of American even in the way it was formed and the constitution it produced.
Let me make a summary of some of the things I believe regarding racism.
- Racism does exist, but progress has been made. We are not a racist country.
- Racism is not at the heart of everything. We certainly don’t have to cancel our history today. We don’t need to rewrite all of history.
- Juneteeth was a good step forward. A day of remembrance and commemorating the end of slavery.
- We need to recognize the history of African Americans and the effects of slavery on black people. People need to be aware of events like the Tulsa Riots of 1921.
- We don’t need to blame the police. They actually need our support. Yes, there are undoubtedly bad cops, but the majority are not so.
- We need to examine our own hearts and, by God’s grace, remove any aspects of racism that may exist there.
- We need to teach the young people of today a balanced history that includes the aspects involving slavery but at the same time recognizes the good things in our history.
By God’s grace and with His help, America can move forward and be a united country. We can be the “City that is Set on a Hill” (Matthew 5:14, NKJV) that we were called to be.