Friday Essay: Two Sides of an Ugly Coin: The Heart of the Race Issue

This week’s essay is a republication of an article from my old blog.

I hate the idea of racial superiority. It’s a wrongheaded philosophy based on external characteristics of skin color that provides a framework for responding to situations and people.

I hate the idea of racial diversity. It’s a wrongheaded philosophy based on external characteristics of skin color that provides a framework for responding to situations and people.

Often we assume the opposite of racism is diversity, that in order to fight a system that promotes a uniformity of people based on skin color we have to champion a system that promotes a diversity of people based on skin color. But do you see the problem already? Both concepts flow from the same flawed fountain. Both begin with this basic thesis: “the color of your skin matters.”

I’m not here to say we ought to just ignore skin color. Color blindness is equally wrongheaded and still begins with externals and works to a solution with no chance of working. Not to mention it disregards the beauty of God’s handiwork in how he made each of us. We cannot ignore physical traits. I mean, just imagine if we took these principles and applied them to other features? Do you know the color of your friend’s hair? I’m sure you do. Does it matter to you? I should hope not. The same applies to eye color, hair type, nose size, ear shape and yes, skin color.

Imagine a cafe with a sign out front saying, “For Gingers Only” or a school system that segregated people between blue and brown-eyed students. The notion is so apparently stupid I won’t explain why. But on the flip side of this ugly coin, imagine a college club slandered because most of the members have brown eyes and there are not enough green-eyed folks. Or a company required to hire one short employee for every five tall employees. Is this not equally pathetic? In both instances, the starting point is “physical trait X is important” and then proceeds to reach different conclusions. Both, in my opinion, are wicked.

Racism will only die when we adopt a biblical view of humanity. In the beginning, God created man in his own image. As Imago Dei all humans have intrinsic value and worth, equal dignity, and rights. A right to life, a right to peacefully and honestly acquire property and goods. While individualism is often misapplied, here we can see the importance of a healthy Biblical view of the individual. I believe we must strive to maintain a balance between society and the individual, and here both sides of the coin slide to one end of the spectrum.

I’m not dismissing the history of those who have experienced wrongs based on their skin color (this applies to multiple situations and people throughout history by the way) but if we want to heal, we have to move beyond such superficial judgments, to a view of each person as their own man or woman, reflective of God’s glory. Our tribalism is slowly killing us, and unless we find the balance and stop dividing based on skin tone you can expect a continued escalation of racial tensions in our society.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously dreamed of a day when people are judged by the content of their character not physical traits like skin color.  Dr. Luther and I share the same dream. 

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