by Darrell Bernard Harrison
I've lost count of the number times someone has said to me, "Racism still exists", as if 'racism' were tantamount to a carton of milk with an expiration date. Not once has anyone said to me, "Murder still exists." or "Lying still exists." or "Adultery still exists."
Why is that?
Why is it that 'racism' - a word I personally detest but will use for purposes of this commentary - is viewed as a special kind of offense deserving of its own unique context in contrast to other moral biases and inclinations we express?
Can someone please answer that for me?
To say that racism 'still' exists is to imply that racism has a definitive point of origin in human history; a date-certain that we can point to and say that racism began "back there" and that it "still" exists today in the here and now. It's as if to say to someone that it's "still" raining outside. "Still" in what chronological context? One hour ago? Three hours ago? Yesterday? Last week? Conversely, to say "Racism still exists" is to suggest that it is composed of elements of which society can permanently rid itself by itself. But this begs the question: If society were inherently capable of such self-restoration, why hasn't society done that by now?
To argue that racism "still exists" yet be unable to define an objective point of origin of racism is nonsensical. Hence, the equally nonsensical argument that it is possible to bring an "end" to racism when you can't say when or how it began! It is that kind of logic that results in circular arguments that are not only unproductive but naive, because they are grounded in historical socio-cultural philosophy as opposed to biblical theology.
This is exactly why every few years you see people - and, increasingly, churches - calling for and hosting events such as "roundtables" and "conversations" on race and racial reconciliation that end up having no impact whatsoever on changing the culture. Why? Because you cannot look to a fallen culture to change a fallen culture!
Until we understand that the roots of racism are not structural or institutional but spiritual, we will continue on the ethical treadmill of having conversations and roundtables about a problem whose solution is outside of us not within us. Racism is a problem of the Garden of Eden, not the bus boycotts of Montgomery, Alabama. Its origins can be traced back to Genesis 3, not the 1860s.
So, please, stop saying "Racism still exists."
Of course it "still" exists. It still exists because sin still exists. And as long as sin exists, racism will exist. The only way for racism to not exist is for the gospel of Jesus Christ to penetrate and transform the heart of the person who is deemed to be racist. Racism is no different than any other sin about which no one ever says it "still" exists. The gospel that addresses murder, adultery, and lying, is the same gospel that addresses our ethnic hatred of one another, which is exactly what 'racism' is biblically.
"And He made from one man [Adam] every nation [ethnos] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth." - Acts 17:26 (NASB)
Guest post by Darrell Bernard Harrison