Racism in America today

On Monday we celebrated the birthday of one of the greatest American heroes: Martin Luther King Jr. He led the greatest campaign in history against racism in America and yet here we are fifty years later and racism continues to be one of the main points of contention in politics, business, academia . . . well, just about everywhere.

Is there still racism in America today? Undoubtedly. There are elements of racism in every culture on the planet I’m sure. So first, I think it’s fitting to celebrate what we have achieved here in America. To be honest, with one exception, the only place I ever personally felt a victim to racism was at church (I grew up at a Korean church). At school I never felt racism, despite being of mixed ethnicities. That’s an amazing testimony to the lack of racism in our culture! When Obama was elected President I must confess that I was disappointed, being that he is in many ways my political opposite. And yet I couldn’t help but feel such great pride that our country could elect a black President. What amazing strides we’ve taken!

And yet the truth is that racism does still exist in our culture, and it remains a very crippling power to many. One can hardly read a newspaper or listen to any lecture at Berkeley without hearing about some form of racism. There are still many bitter people.

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Dr. King was amazing in that he led a movement against prejudice by refusing to give in to bitterness, hatred, and offense. He represented God’s path to true healing for the nation – through forgiveness and compassion. But even as the assassination of Dr. King drew closer in 1968, a strong current in the movement was already taking preeminence: bitterness. Best represented by Malcom X and the Black Panthers, a wave of bitterness and resentment began to sweep through the movement. Frustration at the slow progress, the continued persecution, the assassinations. All of it caused there to be placed a deep seed of resentment in the African American community. Because the truth was they had been wronged. For hundreds of years they had been wronged. And many were “sick and tired” of it.

This seed of bitterness was in fact racism. The reality of sin is that we become whatever we are wounded by. When an offense takes root in someone’s heart it can go one of two ways. It can be forgiven, in which case the heart will heal and end up stronger than it was before. The other way is that the offense can remain as unforgiveness, which when embraced blossoms into bitterness. This bitterness eventually causes you to become the very thing that wounded you. In this case, that was racist.

Today, race is a hot button topic, meaning that unless you are absurdly careful you *will* offend people when discussing it. And in our culture where there is no clear moral compass, where there is no agreed upon criteria for right and wrong, “right” is determined by whoever is most offended. This is the Spirit of Jezebel, and it is in a powerful position in our culture. “Political Correctness” is directly caused by this spirit.

I’ll put it this way. Often in our culture, whoever is most offended gets to have their way. The offended become “loud”. They complain through various channels. They “passionately” present their case. They seem to have a clear understanding that something is wrong. But the reality is that their seeing is distorted by the hurt they have suffered. And because we as a culture cannot discern right and wrong, and there is no clear voice for it, the offended rule the country.

Let’s use the example of Dr. Laura. A couple months ago Dr. Laura, a famous radio personality, used the word “nigger” on the radio several times. She wasn’t accusing anyone of being a nigger, but she was pointing out that the caller cannot let herself be offended just because someone uses the word, she must be able to discern the intentions of why the person is using the word. The problem was that she used the word very casually. She said it multiple times in a nonchalant way, and as anyone in Berkeley could guess, there was a national furor. The NAACP was going crazy. Angry callers were calling for her head. And she ended up stepping down.

Now did she wrong anyone?? No she didn’t. It’s not a sin to be insensitive to someone’s oversensitivity. But that’s the problem these days. In our hypersensitive racially charged culture, everyone must be hyper sensitive to the hypersensitive. If it’s wrong to offend, the most easily offended become the dictators of morality.

When I was a student I took a class on violence and we studied the case of a murder where the assailant’s crime was downgraded simply because the victim used the word “nigger”, which so provoked the assailant that his lawyers argued he should be held less responsible for his actions. Ridiculous. And yet the court upheld that sentiment.

These examples are just clues to a larger issue. White on black racism obviously still exists in our culture. But the racism that dominates the places of influence, the culture centers in academia, media and government, is at this point reverse racism. It’s the fear of racism that must be confronted in our time. It’s the accusation of racism where none exists. There must be forgiveness and a commitment to righteousness if our nation is going to heal. There must be a stand taken against the easily offended in our culture. The church must come out of its intimidation and be the light.

This is the same issue as when I say boldly that homosexuality is a sin. Immediately there are many who would label me a bigot and hater, which is certainly not the case. But I have made a commitment to speak the truth regardless of who’s offended. As Jesus once said, “blessed is the man who is not offended on my account.”

The truth is that this bitterness which has taken root in a large portion of the African American community is the very thing that is keeping large portions of it in poverty. The intellectual elite in our country pour over the problem of black poverty every day. Liberal policies advocate  a “helping hand” from the government to help amend past persecutions. But these policies are usually less “helping hand” and more “wheelchair” in nature and only exacerbate the problem. Black people do not need affirmative action. They don’t need lenient law. They don’t need favorable hiring. And they don’t need government aid. It’s one thing if a private entity makes it a goal to hire a diverse staff, or gives a scholarship to a minority. These are wonderful and noble actions. But if the government steps in and creates permanent crutches it sends a different message. It sends a message that black people need special help, and this belief is in fact a victim mentality that strips them of their most potent strength: their belief in themselves. God himself says that nothing is impossible to them that believe. When men decided to build a tower to heaven God didn’t say “those fools, they’ll never do it!” He said, “I better do something because they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to do.” (paraphrased scripture there)

The true issue that is afflicting the African American community is that there is a severe curse of fatherless on it. That curse is almost certainly derived from slavery and the forceful separation of families and it has had far reaching consequences. Fathers call out identity and destiny. They provide security and solidity. Many of the issues in black America can trace it’s root to this one issue. It’s not the government who can restore what was lost. Only the Lord can do that, and it must start through forgiveness. It’s the hearts of people that must be healed, and we need leaders who can inspire them to do it and to stop making excuses for sin. Sin leads to curses and obedience to blessings. We need leaders who won’t cater to the bitterness but will call people to righteousness so that they can be blessed!

I understand that to some all they will see in this post is condescension. But that is not where I’m coming from. I’m obviously not speaking about all black people. But I’m directly confronting a spiritual force which has taken hold on a large portion of the black population and therefore on the national agenda. I reject the notion that I must be black to truly understand. I’ve heard several wonderful insights from black pastors on faults in korean culture that were quite accurate. God help us and bless us all.

  1. #1 by jadanzzy on January 20, 2011 - 9:34 pm

    Interesting post. I have a few questions:

    1. Have you read any African American sociologists or scholars regarding the issue of poverty (and its subsequent effects) in African American culture? If so, who?

    2. Do you have any LGBTQ friends that you hold dear?

    3. As a minority American, have you wrestled with notions of white privilege or experienced its effects? If so, what are some of your thoughts regarding that?

    Thanks!

    • #2 by Anonymous on January 20, 2012 - 8:10 pm

      hey sexy

  2. #3 by Samuel on January 23, 2011 - 4:35 am

    Dennis, you are one clear thinker.

    “Forgiveness” and the need of “Fathers who call out identity and destiny” are really needed.

    i would go a step further and say that “cultural understanding” and a “desire to learn about other cultures” is also needed.

    cultural understanding: cultures communicate verbally and nonverbally so differently. therefore, so much is miscommunicated, offense is taken, and racism continues.
    solution: schools should offer classes on intercultural communication. this would help people in all spheres of life: personal, social and professional.

    desire to reconcile: some people want to get to know other cultures, and others, frankly, don’t give a shat. on the bright side, i think people would want to be able to communicate and get along with other cultures once they realize the benefits of it: personally and professionally.

  3. #4 by Dennis Cole on January 23, 2011 - 5:00 pm

    jadanzzy,
    i’m honestly not sure of the race of the writers i’ve read, and i don’t remember their names either. it’s been a long time since i was in school.
    i do have many friends who feel homosexual tendencies and a couple who would consider themselves openly gay.
    and no i haven’t really wrestled with white privilege.
    i’m not really sure what relevance these questions have though as their are infinite factors that color one’s perspective.

    samuel,
    thanks for the compliments. i definitely agree that it’s beneficial to understand other cultures. i have no idea if public schools would be able to do this effectively.

  4. #5 by passerby on May 5, 2011 - 8:08 pm

    Late to the thread but had to comment:

    1 – “….The true issue that is afflicting the African American community is that there is a severe curse of fatherless on it. That curse is almost certainly derived from slavery and the forceful separation of families and it has had far reaching consequences….”

    Actually, from the end of slavery, up til the 1960′s, marriage thrived just fine in the black community. Slaves could not get married lawfully and the marriages that they did contract on their own, had no legal protection (although valid in God’s eyes IMHO), since spouses, as you noted, could be separated and sold away from each other at the owner’s whim. This is PRECISELY WHY, as history records, that as soon as slavery ended, there was a mad rush of ex-slaves to get married. It was considered a precious thing to them. And it remained so, until the welfare state brought it down.

    2- Another poster mentioned white privilege….since nobody will believe a straight white male on the topic, I’ll let a black lesbian speak for herself:

    “White or any kind of privilege is self defined I am finding out…. I have discovered that I can claim that white privilege just fine. It is just a matter of believing I deserve only the good stuff that I deserve success, respect AND inclusion, then going out there in demanding it in a quiet, non-confrontive, very firm way. It works for me. I am living proof of it. I guess after watching my partner and her three white male sons, how they are raised and what they are taught to expect from the world, I decided, hey… I am going to put myself in a white male’s shoes and see how the world responds. Amazingly, the fact that I am in a bi-racial female’s body seems to not matter anymore. What does matter is what I expect and demand from people by what I project from the inside out.

    So yeah, I got some of that white privilege and it is real and it does work and basically, ANYONE can have it. “

  5. #6 by gen on October 28, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    Hello People, I am not sure of the writers age but there were some good points made and some inaccurate statements. Oh pirates yes them rob I stole I from the Merchant ship, Many times they took I From the bottomless pit”. I as an older african American born in the 60′s raised in an era of protest and what I do know is prejudice and hatred is hard to erase from the minds of a People. We do a lot of things to keep this Racism thing going. One we dont feel that we are Gods children because of the Past. THe one thing i know we feel that we are NOT entitled to anything but working like were still on the plantation when my fore parents worked to the skin and sweat and American whites still feel that they are priviledged, if you think that People dont believe and ingest entiltlement think about the JEWS, they said never again and meant it and stand on it TODAY as a community they stand together on whatever issues making them entitled to get what they want and expect. Yes we dont need hand outs or crutches, but dammit at least once in a while can i have filet mignon and not chuck. There are Deterents set up to make sure you dont get what your entilted to as long as your black as well as other minorities. If we protest about fairness were considered loud-mouth people with hatred. well consider me a Loud Mouth God gave me one, with vocal chords attached to be respected, blessed and given equal share of this here country. Some people came to america, some people swam to america, we were stolen to america, slaved to america, used in america, abused in america, killed in america, given nothing, gain nothing, respected less. the nerve! i myself demand respect from everyone and I respect others views as long as its not violent, THis is 2011 it will never get better. YOung people dont know what struggle is or protest they just feel from mommy or daddy working 3 jobs that they are entilted to get what they want. First know your God and know your history and fight for what you want, stand up for all people when they are protesting honesty and facts. Keeping your mouth shut will keep the progression of people where they are today, UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. BROTHERS AND SISTERS WE ARE FALLING. PEACE

  6. #7 by Anonymous on January 20, 2012 - 8:12 pm

    hey sexy one

  7. #8 by MrsB on May 1, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Racism is still around. And I personally agree with your comments on how there is an issue of a lack of fathers in African American culture due to slavery. It is apparent in my own heritage. All my life my family had bonded to the Germanic American culture. I was told that my father’s side had some Native American heritage and that is why my sister, my dad, and my grandmother had black wiry hair, dark eyes, and dark complexions. And strangely there was family feud that happened with my great grandparents. I was told that one side didn’t like the other because of alcoholism.

    I had to do some family research for my masters and my grandmother was being vague with me on how the family names line up. So with what she would give me I found out on my own through rootsweb.com. Turns out my lineage descends from a freed slave in RI.

    My grandmother lives in a small town in Alabama that does not accept African Americans, even though the African Americans seem to outnumber the European Americans. The other interesting side of this is how big of a racist my step-grandfather is. He and my grandmother are rasing ym cousin. She was dating a very nice young man, very educated, and handsome. She was sooo happy. However, he was African American. SO they made the rule that she could date him, but he could never come into the house, due to their status at the country club.

    Nevertheless that relationship lasted for some time, but the boy broke up with her. She won’t talk about it with me, but I am certain he was tired of my grandparent’s racist attitudes. All along however, right under my step-grandfather’s nose and the country club members (people my grandmother deems as important friends) is my grandmother who is by their old fashion one-drop rule considered African American. I find it heart braking for my cousin, because the guy seemed to be the real deal and her a good match for her. This whole time my grandmother knowing the truth about herself still held her prejudices.

    This society has torn my ancestors family apart. I can tell even after the descendant was free that he and his son had to part ways so his son could get a better life. As well they had to stop claiming on the census records that they were African American. His son had a child that founded and ran a city. However, the path of destruction lead to noticing a pattern. The father’s would move on to another wife even though the other was still alive and raising their children.

    And now racism is destroying my family as it stands. I am not allowed to know or act like I know the truth. My cousin met the guy I think she is probably supposed to be with, but that is now destroyed. When I told my father I knew he had a bit of an edge and no surprise in his voice, which leads me to believe he knew all along as well. He went to the city our ancestors founded when I was twelve. He brought back a picture of our ancestor but never said much, just mentioned that we have Native American blood. I always thought it was peculiar that my relatives were so certain of this but then would never know which Native American, especially when they knew the town that our ancestor lived in.

    I hope that with each generation we take the time to become more aware and participate in breaking down the barriers of racism, because it hurts us all. Even if you are white and have never done a racist think you have never done a racist thing in your life, you have to acknowledge the that there is “white privileges” that you benefit from and that we have to decide whether or not we want to participate in the type of structure. It hurts European American’s white identity because if I were to say I have White Pride that has a negative connotation. White pride is connected to the KKK. When I say white pride I would hope someday that it will have a positive connotation.

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  9. #10 by Lee Baker on September 16, 2013 - 6:35 pm

    Blacks Ridiculed again by the Mormon Church
    By Lee B. Baker, Former Mormon Bishop

    For several years now, every Tuesday evening I have had the great privilege of addressing the Christian and Mormon listeners of Worship FM 101.7 in Monrovia, the capital City of Liberia, West Africa.

    I have come to know several of the station managers and a number of the more frequent callers to the weekly program. Through their comments, questions and photographs, I have been genuinely moved to see the application of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Over the past few months the question of racist teachings in the Book of Mormon and from the past Leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been on the minds of the Liberian converts to Mormonism and the many Christians who struggle to understand how such a Church can be growing in Africa.

    I believe the answer is relatively simple; it has been the perfect merging of a sincere lack of knowledge on the part of the Mormon converts and a disturbing lack of accountability on the part of the Mormon leaders. A near total lack of knowledge across Africa specific to some of the more explicit teachings found within the Mormon Scriptures, principally that Black Skin is a representation of wickedness and even less information concerning the racism and bigotry openly and officially taught by the early Leadership of the Mormon Church. This combined with the current Church Leadership’s inability to clearly and specifically reject its own racist teachings both in print and from its past Senior Leadership, has left the Black Race with only a short irresponsible and offensively juvenile Official Statement that claims the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows very little about its own race-based policy that had lasted for well over 100 years:

    “It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended.”

    Maintaining a detailed and comprehensive history of every aspect and teaching of the Church has been both one of the hallmarks and one of the downfalls of Mormon Church. Within the relatively young Church, authoritative documentation, however corrupt it may have been, has never been in short supply. Each of the Senior Leaders of the Mormon Church has had several official biographers as well as an army of Church authorized historians to record for the faithful Mormon all facets of the History of the Church. In fact, one of my first of many “Callings” in the Mormon Church was that of a Ward (Congregational) Historian, long before I became a Bishop.

    The peculiar assertion that the Mormon Church itself does not know the details of its very own race-based policy of restricting the Blacks from holding the Priesthood is tremendously embarrassing for all Mormons and exceptionally degrading for anyone who actually believes it.

    As a former local leader of the Mormon Church, I have repeatedly assured the African members of the Mormon Church that the documents and “Scriptures” I have read to them over the air are both Authorized and Official for the time period they are relevant to. I clearly state the current position of total acceptance of all Races by the Church, but I must highlight the fact that the Book of Mormon still carries it’s obviously racist message that dark skin was a curse and Jesus was white. I have said many times on-air that like the Mormon Missionaries, I too believe that every African should have a copy of the Book of Mormon, if only to learn the truly racist teaching of the Mormons.

    I have and will continue to teach the African Nations from the authentic Mormon Scriptures and the Church History documents, which I had purchased from the Mormon Church to know my past responsibilities as a Mormon Bishop. The official records of the Mormon Church include many jokes and sermons given within the Official Semi-Annual General Conference of the faithful Mormons, using the “N-word”, Darky and Sambo. Additionally, these Church published books record nearly 100 graphic sermons and lessons that clearly teach the principle, practice and policy that Black Skin was, is and will remain forever the Curse of Cain.

    Only in the recent past has the “Complete History” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come to the attention of its own membership, much less to the under developed regions of the world. As this information is discovered, an ever increasing number of members of the Mormon Church have come into a personal crisis of faith, most notably Elder Hans Mattsson of Sweden, a General Authority of the Mormon Church who has gone public with his doubts and questions.

    Not unique to Africa, has been the Mormon Church’s training of young Missionaries to strictly avoid any discussion of several of the more embarrassing, yet true, teachings of the 183 year old Church. Chief among these subjects has been Polygamy and Blacks and the Priesthood.

    With the smooth talent of a skilled politician, the Mormon Church has ended its Official Statement with the following hypocritical and deceitful, but technically accurate quote:

    “The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

    As a former Mormon Bishop and member of the Mormon Church for over 32 years, let me be of some help with the translation of this very carefully crafted message. The two key noteworthy phrases are: “in the absence of direct revelation” and “These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

    I will address the most obvious first, clearly the “previous statements” from the Church and its Leadership “do not” represent the Church doctrine today. The policy was reversed in 1978 and there is no question as to the policy today. The hypocritical deception is that between 1845 and 1978 those “statements” did, very much “DID” not “DO” represent past Church doctrine. Yet, I do give full credit to the clever Mormon authors and editors for their most skillful use of the English language.

    And finally, the most revealing and enlightening statement from the Mormon Church is: “in the absence of direct revelation”. So then, it is incredibly true and accurate that without any mockery or sarcasm; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had for nearly 100 years, restricted a significant portion of the human race, millions and millions from God’s intended blessings of Eternal Marriage, Salvation and even Godhood, without knowing why they did it, all without “direct revelation”?

    This Official Statement of religious shame and embarrassment comes from the Headquarters of a Church that claims to be guided in all things by “direct revelation”. How then, did such an exclusive doctrine based on prejudice, bigotry and racism become so accepted, so authoritative, so convincing and so commanding for so long, without “direct revelation”?

    As a former Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I give testimony that what they have stated is true, in that, they are racist and do not hide the History of the Church from its members or the public, this, their Official Statement on Race and the Church demonstrates that fact.

    I believe that the truly wicked teachings as well as the repulsive history of the Mormon Church concerning Polygamy, Polyandry, Blood Atonement, and Blacks and the Priesthood is available for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    It is my prayer that all Mormons and non-Mormons will come to know the true history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That every man, woman and young adult on the earth today will find the time to read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price from cover to cover to see the deception they hold, and then… read the Word of God with the eyes of a child, and follow the true Jesus, the true Christ found only in the Bible.

    Sincerely,

    Lee B. Baker
    Former Mormon Bishop

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