If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
~James 2:3-4 NIV~
So, is it right to beat someone into submission because they have beaten you? Or is it okay to steal from someone if you find out that they have stolen from you? How about rape? If someone rapes you, do you have the right to do the same to them? Hmmm. I sincerely hope that your answer to these questions was a resounding no, though it would not surprise me to find that many people think it is perfectly acceptable to repay evil with evil. An eye for an eye and all that. I submit to you that this may be the way that brings us a sense of satisfaction in terms of justice, but to combat a wrong by inflicting the same wrong in return will not bring justice or victory. It will only bring more pain.
After a year of watching our society melt further down into an unrecognizable pile of ridiculousness, I have one more question for you. And I’m sure many of you won’t like it. So, here it is: Do you think it is right to combat systemic racism by flipping the script and using your entire platform to try and shame a group of people into being more culturally appreciative when you are claiming to be working toward achieving unity? It’s not even a matter of cultural sensitivity; it’s that one culture wants the other to see them as superior…not equal. Is that okay? Does that do anything less than reinforce the notion that there is a need for a great racial divide and that parties on both sides think that their group is better than the others? I tend to think not. If you continually tell me that you hate me just because I’m white, I’ll eventually (and it would take a very long time because I don’t form opinions about people based on skin color) start to wonder whether or not I have the right to hate you because you are not white. In the same way that antiquated ideas about race have contributed to a sense of contempt among blacks toward whites, constantly hearing how terrible white people are and how un-entertaining or ugly or racist we are does little to make a white person feel as though they have any value in today’s society. In fact, it kind of reinforces the idea that white may as well be clear, devoid of any substance, worth, or talent. How is this going to help anyone achieve unity? How does this strategy work to bring people together when it seems as though, longtime friends who never seemed to notice that you weren’t the same color have suddenly decided to point a finger at you and claim that if you don’t denounce your “whiteness” you’re somehow racist? How does this work if one white person does it to another? Am I really supposed to feel motivated to be anything but angry when someone wrongfully accuses me of not caring about the plight of black people? Am I supposed to be sympathetic when someone decides that simply by the virtue of my skin color, I must be one of those people who doesn’t like anyone who doesn’t look like them? It’s ridiculous. Anyone who knows me knows that I will tell you exactly what I don’t like if there is something I don’t like about you and it has nothing to do with a person’s color, religion, nationality, etc. It has everything to do with whether or not you have a right spirit and a good heart. I don’t believe in putting a label on everything and then pushing certain labels to one side while I favor others.
I know that this is all a very touchy subject and that the very fact that I am a white woman means that I should keep my mouth shut about it. By today’s standards, having an opinion that differs from the party line about systemic racism makes me a racist for sure. Well, as with everything else, I’m going to have to call B.S. It doesn’t line up with God’s word or His plan for us. All of this back and forth over who is the most racist is exactly what God doesn’t want us to be engaged in. It isn’t how He made us. It isn’t what He intended for us. But since race is one of the most obvious traits we have, we tend to use it as a weapon in a fight that was created by those who have an altogether other agenda; to keep those of us without wealth down on a level where they can control us and keep us from taking away the money they have made from oppressing the poor on all sides. Plain and simple, it boils down to money. Those who can profit from keeping blacks and whites upset with one another (to the point where there is angry rioting in the streets) will continue to find ways to pit one against the other until the end of time or until we stop allowing them to do it.
When we talk about racism, for some reason we automatically roll back the footage in our minds to a time of segregation and ignorance that kept people from being friends with one another, being in romantic relationships, working together, having families together, etc. Funny, when I think about racism, I think back to my high school. We had a fair mix of white and black students. The culture there seemed to be a mix of white culture and black culture, leaning more toward black. The only reason I knew there were racial issues was because there were people who were constantly saying that there were racial issues. I hadn’t experienced any, but there were many who assured me that things were bad. I’m not a big fan of having someone tell me what to think or believe. I don’t like for someone to constantly push a narrative on me that doesn’t align with what I actually see happening. Yet, there it was. And here it is.
The bottom line is that I am not a racist. However, if you insist on telling me that I am a racist based on the color of my skin, then you, my friend have a bit of a problem. I will never claim to be a racist simply because you continue to tell me that you think I am one. I also won’t claim to be overwhelmed with shame at being a white person because someone out there thinks I should be ashamed of who I am. I’ve never seen myself as any better than anyone else. It’s just not an attitude that I have. As it turns out, I don’t glean my value from what someone else says or thinks about me. Only God can tell me what I’m worth and in spite of the fact that He gave me white skin, He thinks I’m okay. And whatever color anyone else is, He gave them that as well. So, we should all remember who made us and what He thinks about His creation before we have the audacity to try and label someone as less-than or not enough. That’s not our call.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at email@example.com.