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What Is Racism

QUESTION: What is racism?


Racism is the conviction that the members of one race are inherently superior to the members of other races. This conviction is often manifested by discriminatory or abusive behavior and practices towards the members of the supposed inferior races. Often the expectations and characterizations of one race concerning another are based on these prejudicial beliefs. Hence, racist individuals believe that members of certain races are prone to criminal or dishonest behavior; other races are prone to greed and aggression; still other races are prone to immoral activities and promiscuous conduct.

Racism may also be characterized by other broad generalities such as the expectation that members of certain races are better athletes, more intelligent, have better voices or are more artistic. While these characterizations are not necessarily negative, they still hold to a narrow view of certain populations. Racism is a limiting, narrow-minded mentality that does not allow one to judge another through knowledge and personal interaction. Instead, one is judged solely by the racial or ethnic group to which they belong. In actuality, racist individuals are virtually incapable of any fair or correct evaluation of another person; racial prejudice builds a wall. It is impossible to see past the preconceived ideas.

Racism has birthed many of society’s ills. Discrimination, separation, and segregation are products of a racist mentality. Forced slavery and genocide are capital crimes directly resulting from racism. When one race acts out its superior beliefs in a society, there is no room for harmony or community. In order to remain superior in their own eyes, members of one race have enslaved and/or destroyed their “neighbors.”

Racism is moral blindness; it fails to appreciate that the difference in the biological and physical characteristics of individuals is a cause for wonder. Each race is unique; each individual is special. Most importantly, the differences are superficial. In reality, humans are largely more similar to one another than different. Even science to this agrees and it is supported by the Bible. Acts 17:26a declares, “From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.” This makes us know that all mankind has the same origin, indeed we are one race of Homo sapiens. The diversity and uniqueness of the peoples and nations are manifestations of God’s awesome creativity and power.

Often underlying racist beliefs and practices is the emotion of fear. Many individuals react with fear towards those who look or appear different than themselves. Fear leads to self-protectiveness and defensiveness mostly causing pain and discomfort to the object of the fear. Instead of attempts to bridge the differences, the wall is maintained; unity and harmony are never reached. Would that mankind could grasp the truth that we are made in the image of the one true God; He alone is the source of our life. It is He that makes us one race. “So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28a).

Learn More About Racial Prejudice.

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