I wish I didn’t have to address this but it is still an issue in our world.
And unless you have lived it, you most likely can’t even understand it. As a white male in America, I am part of a demographic that is often seen as the dominant gender and race in the dominant country of the world. How could I ever fully understand?
So, when my kids encounter racism or my family sees it, how do I explain it in a way they not only understand but also avoid participating in it?
1. God and his love is for EVERYONE.
The FBI teaches how to detect counterfeit money not by studying fake money but by studying the original. I think that is a good approach regarding many things like racial equality. Let’s start with what is right.
When we believe God and His love is for everyone, we have a passion to include everyone. God’s act of redemption is for ALL people, regardless of their race.
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This was done so this vision of Heaven could become a reality.
Rev 7:-10 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
2. EVERYONE is made in the image of God.
When we believe this to be true, we treat everyone equally–respecting our differences.
Gen 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Col 3:5-11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
3. Racism is a learned trait.
Since racism was not God’s design, it is simply the result of sin, ignorance and a shared hatred that we continue to look at others and assume the worst.
I grew up in Kansas and then lived in Kentucky. I heard many racist jokes and negative comments that had been passed down from generation to generation. Many times it was just plain evil hatred, but it often was ignorance. This was certainly prevalent after 9/11.
I once sold a car to a man who was Muslim. We had a great conversation as he wrote me out a check and then he looked at me and said, “See, we’re not all terrorists.” This hadn’t been on the forefront of my mind, but it was his. He was used to people fearing the worst just by the way he looked.
When it comes to breaking the cycle of racism that you may have grown up with, or perhaps your children may experience in this world, let your kids know that God put us on this earth to LOVE others and we try to act that out as much as possible. I’ve learned a long time ago that children don’t always do what you say, but they do what you do. The best way to tell them is to show them.
4. Take time to see things from another perspective.
When we help our kids build a Biblical ethos we can then share with them how ugly and painful it is for those who have experienced racism and for those who fought for equality.
There are so many stories from the Civil Rights Era to share from Dr. King, Ledger Smith and Rosa Parks; research them together.
Watch movies together and talk about racial injustice; Dances with Wolves, To Kill a Mockingbird, 13th (Amendment Documentary) and Schindler’s List.
Celebrate other cultures and other races by taking your kids to diverse settings such museums and restaurants. Learn together during Black History Month and never say, “What about White History Month?”
When you say something racist or tell a racially insensitive joke, ask your children for their forgiveness. Let them know you recognize how wrong it was and how you don’t want that to communicate to them that those jokes are okay.
If your children are white, help them understand the fact that they cannot and will never fully understand what racism really means and the impact it has on a person. Despite the argument for reverse-racism, white people will just never understand, especially a white male. We must have a posture of humility and listen with a genuine desire to learn and understand.
5. Be the first to walk across the room.
If someone is excluded, overlooked or discriminated against, be the first to walk across the room and extend a handshake, smile, hello or invitation.
Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
As those who love Jesus, we are known by our love. Let it be evident to ALL.
Find this helpful? Please share with someone else. Thank you!