One thing that happened to me when I received Christ at twenty-nine years of age was my attitude toward people of various ethnic background changed. I was extremely racist in my attitudes and thoughts and I realized a love for people of opposite skin color that I never knew existed.
There was one item that caused me considerable floundering on my racist attitude and that was the racist attitude I experienced from people of the opposite race. I did have some friends that were African American before I got saved and all I heard them speak about was getting a ‘white girl’. I saw in military service the attitudes from some African American soldiers that African American girls were not even on their radar screens. They wanted only to be with ‘white’ girls. When I got saved this was an area that God had to deal with me on and I still find myself asking forgiveness for various thoughts that come into my mind.
However, I also believe that racism is as much alive within the African American community as it is in the Anglo community. It seems that some argue that African Americans cannot be racist because to be racist you have to be in a majority and African Americans are not in a majority. I am not sure how one would define racism but I believe I will use the definition found in Websters: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.“
According to this definition, it seems that Senator Obama received a pass on his recent racial slur. Notice what he says about his grandmother who is Anglo.
“The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity,” he said. “But she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know. . .there’s a reaction in her that doesn’t go away and it comes out in the wrong way.“
Notice that Senator Obama fell into the classic definition of exhibiting a racial attitude. He believes, according to his statement, that because his grandmother is ‘white’ she displays certain traits that make here inferior to him. The Senator got a pass from the media on this and it seems that he has dodged this statement because I had to look to find it in a Google search.
What does that have to do with me as a Southern Baptist. It seems that Southern Baptist have taken a negative hit on racism in some of the post on the blog world. My friend and fellow blogger Bart Barber had some hurtful comments directed his way when he honestly said ‘Yes’ to the question; “Does racism exist in the SBC.” I am not one to place words in another’s mouth but what I understood Dr. Barber to say was that we all had racists thoughts to some extent. If an African American jokes that someone cannot sing or dance because they are white, then that is a racists statement. I am not offended by the statement, because I know I cannot sing or dance. I do not know if it is because I am white, but I know it just is not in me. However, after watching Dancing with the Stars, I must admit there are some dancing white boys on that program. I say that comical statement to point to you that the statement itself can be perceived as racist.
As we can go back and forth with the various racist statements that really are not offensive, I must confess that in Southern Baptist life I do see a place we can improve and make certain that our actions match our words. Brother Dwight McKissic pointed something out about his visit to the Executive Committee in Nashville. The highest ranking African American employed at the Executive Committee is the Head Custodian. According to the Richard Cliff at LifeWay we have 823,208 African American; 185,223 Hispanic; 75,937 Korean; and 23,743 Chinese members of our 16 million members. That means that the SBC is made up of 20% minority church members. I must admit that when I saw these numbers I was a bit embarrased that the highest ranking African American at the Executive Committee was the Head Custodian, when African Americans make up the largest minority population in the SBC.
I believe it is time for us to call on our convention leaders, in some way without developing a quota system, to bring balance to this discrepancy. Do I believe we have this imbalance because of racism? No, I do not. We all know how people get positions and it is mainly due to relationships formed in Seminary. Our seminaries have attracted mainly Anglo students. Our convention must take some blame for this. This resolution passed in 1995 certainly has not helped to recruit students to our six seminaries. I believe this correction can begin in our seminaries, in the recruitment of minority seminary students. According to this press release it seems that SWBTS is getting it. But, it must not stop there. I believe that our committees and entity heads must be open to moving minorities into various positions of leadership. I pray that as we move forward, we as a convention, will grasp that minority relations is more than just words presented at an annual meeting in the form of a resolution. We are Brothers and Sisters in Christ and we should trust the Christ living in all of those who profess Him.