Thoughts on Racism

Racism is a scourge upon the human race and a prominent theme in today’s social conversation. Racism is a hate-sin and a hate-crime. Its history is as old as the human race and as intractable as evil itself. Its prominence in American history, from slavery to de jure segregation in the South to de facto segregation in the North is a blight upon our national record. Its eradication is an important social goal of which Christians are enthusiastic supporters. Racism is incompatible with Christ’s disciples, who are to “regard no one according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16).

However, this goal of eliminating racism is being undermined by the recklessness with which the accusations of racism are being hurled about. Typically, the term itself is left undefined. Not just individuals, but whole classes of persons are being labeled as racist while other groups are said to be incapable of racism. The word “racism” is often modified by other terms such as “implicit,” “structural,” “institutional,” and “systemic.” A whole nation is branded with the evil: “America is a racist nation.” Yet the meaning of racism is left vague and illusive.

We have a pastoral concern about this. It is important that sin be identified so that it can be repented of and repudiated. Imprecise accusations lead to unresolved guilt feelings. Believers are being told they are guilty of something though they are not quite sure of what that something is. Worse, if they deny that they harbor any negative attitudes or feelings against people of other races; or claim that they are not guilty of prejudicial, bigoted, or discriminatory attitudes or actions against other races, this denial itself is said to be evidence of racism. The accusation itself is unfalsifiable: one is guilty no matter what, without recourse, except to admit to what one does not believe is true.

Consequently, it is vital that we understand what racism is and what it isn’t. An accurate, carefully nuanced definition with accompanying descriptions is necessary if we are to confess our guilt where it is real as well as avoid manipulation by externally imposed false guilt.

To read Mr. Johnson's entire article entitled Thoughts on Racism, click the PDF below.