Unearthing Everyday Racism

On Sunday I posted a blog calling us, as many pastors thankfully did, to remember the call given to each Christian from their baptism - to resist evil.  The evil in question and on display from the weekend is the pernicious sin of racism in American society.  In responses to that blog, a reader on Facebook pushed back on the notion that institutionalized racism is still an issue in our country.

To be clear, institutionalized racism is still very much an issue in America.  Simply googling 'is institutional racism real' will lead you to any number of verifiable studies that prove the sin of racism is constant.

And, in fact, it's not just institutionalized.  It's normalized.  For People of Color, dealing with racism is an everyday thing.  A thing that this pastor, a middle-class, over-educated, white clergy person can barely begin to grasp.

As things went on in the comments, the reader offered this prompt to me, which I then offered on my personal Facebook page:

Please share with me the most recent incident of overt racism that you have experienced or witnessed.

Here are just a few of the responses, unedited, but without names.  Some of them are from people of color, some of them from white people.  Some of them are from family members, others are from people that I knew in college and haven't seen for a dozen years.  Just read.  These are examples of normalized, institutional, every day racism.

Read, but don't get fragile.  Read, and be motivated to be different.

[My kids] were playing in the neighborhood last summer when some older 4th or 5th grade boys came over to join them. They started saying the n word and making racial jokes about someone else who had passed them while they were outside. I was proud that my boys immediately came home. They still won’t play with those kids when they see them out side. These were CHILDREN. Growing up in an affluent neighborhood made up of well educated upper middle class families. Overt racism is a real thing in all communities. And it is a learned behavior clearly still being passed down.
This week I had someone tell me they stopped riding the bus because there were too many black guys on there.
While checking out at kroger, I asked whether or not they had switched to the chip instead of the usual swipe, and the checker said, “oh are you using your WIC card? I think you have to still swipe with that.”- I was using my Bank of America debit card... It’s the little things. I frequently run errands with just my daughter and know how that can be perceived. I try to make sure to wear my wedding band just to curb the looks and assumptions I usually get.
Extended family member referred to a predominantly black neighborhood as n-er town....in front of my child of color.
A few weeks a woman town the street posted a warning in our neighborhood Facebook group about suspicious people driving around slowly in an Escalade. Those would be our black neighbors leaving their house.
Having my spouse cutoff by a guy driving a truck bigger than our own at Grapevine Mills Mall. Then said guy proceeded to call my spouse the b word and yell referring to one of my sons who is black, “Why do you have that (n-word) child?”
While on vacation a random man walked up to my family, proceeded to ask where we were from, asked if we were enjoying our vacation and then proceeded to ask, ‘where’s the other 7,000 of you? I know you black people travel in large groups.’ And then said this to my dad, ‘and let me guess, you’re name’s Roscoe or Leroy, right???’ My parents laughed it off. I did not.
Yesterday, someone told me a terribly racist joke, N-word included. When I told him that was not ok, he then told me that I know he’s not actually racist. He then started telling me about how lazy black people are, how we have had to dumb down our education standards to be able to accommodate black people. He said that it’s a fact that black people are more violent, because there are more of them in jail. Of course, he isn’t racist though, because he has that one black friend. I didn’t sleep well last night.
One morning I was enjoying a quiet breakfast . . .tv was on Fox, but I wasn’t listening . I was minding my own business, reading on my cell phone I think . . . it was at the end of the breakfast time and I was the only costomer in the area . . . while watching tv this white guy starts shouting at me, complaining about Obamacare and the 9th circuit . . . Knowing that what he wanted was to get a rise out of me, I just kept eating my breakfast and minding my own business . . .
A family member referred to our kids as “half-breeds.”

I could share more responses, but I'll stop there for now.  The infographic at the top of this blog has also been passed around much on social media in the last few weeks and a friend posted in her response to the above prompt.

I dare all of us to be willing to ask for and listen to stories of racism.  I've decided that I can't ignore the stories any more, no matter how heartbreaking they are.  

The sin of racism is a Kingdom of God issue.  Treating any person as less than human is denial of the very image of God in which we are all created.  Our liturgies in worship should call us into liturgy in life and there may be no greater calling in the Kingdom than to work together to eliminate the sin of racism.

More to come.