Seeing A Difference In How Races Are Treated
I need you to know that this letter is just as much for me as I hope it is for you. Because here is the truth, I am a racist. I am a middle aged, middle class, white, male, educated, Christian minister and I see a difference in races. I see a difference in how races are treated. I see that shades of skin color matter in employment, poverty, education, and corporate ladder climbing. I see race. I know that the color of someone’s skin effects how they are treated in this world and thus “colors” their perception of the world around them.
In the midst of a viral pandemic known as Covid-19, we are also still in the midst of a global pandemic that has been occurring since the dawn of creation: racism. But here is what is strange, racism doesn’t have to do us in, instead it can enliven and enlighten us to our uniqueness. I am not here to invite you to be “color-blind.” Such a thing isn’t really possible, and it is demeaning to those who take pride in the hue of their skin. No. Please see color, in fact really take a look! I’m also not asking you to lose your own culture or put down your own upbringing. No! Celebrate who you are. What I’m asking is let others celebrate who they are as well.
The negative differences in cultures created around skin color have been differences based on power and oppression. That is the pandemic of racism found all over the world. But imagine with me that the cultures formed around skin color were not based on power and oppression, but instead were cultures of beauty, uniqueness, art and music, dance, theater and culinary delights! Imagine a world where the color of someone’s skin is intriguing not frightening. Imagine a world where someone with a different flesh tone means that they have a perspective to share rather than a lifestyle to fear. This is the world I would want my children and all children to live in. I think many of you do as well.
In the past few months we have been social distancing and trying not to touch each other. Even in the midst of the viral pandemic, the racism pandemic is still here. We have had two public cases of African American men killed, on video, in broad daylight. Their names were: Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. These were public and videoed deaths; you can be assured there were more of which we are not aware. In addition, many of our Asian-American citizens have been harassed and violated as some have scapegoated this culture because of Covid-19. There is violence, death, oppression, viruses, and evil in this world.
The way forward is to apply political pressure, yes, and offer more cultural training, yes. But such things do not always get at the human heart. Through laws and public shame, you can force an external change without getting an internal shift. Here is what I propose, first be curious about your own culture created by your skin color. Find out what makes your culture special, joyful, and delightful. Be honest enough to know that your culture is also not perfect. Take what is great about you and keep it, feel free to drop the stuff that is not so great. Then, do the same with another culture, not your own. Find out what makes someone else’s culture beautiful and engaging, and also what is harmful or oppressive in that culture. Work with your neighbor to keep the beautiful and drop the oppressive.
These are just first steps. I hope they lead to collaboration, healthy friendships, new business ventures, and the people of every nation, all tribes and peoples of all languages and colors to celebrate each other. Peace, Pastor Adam Rohler
Pastor Adam Rohler is a Jamestown resident and pastor of First Covenant Church.