Important but challenging meditations, applying Jesus to everyday life.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
How Do We End Prejudice in our Society?
Every prejudice in human existence—racism, classism, sexism,
homophobia, Islamophobia, hobophobia and any other phobia or –ism you wish to
name—will not end when we see all people the same as us. To see all people the same is to grant power
to those who already have power, to maintain the current prejudices. To claim racism and classism doesn’t exist is
to say that the status quo of killings and people sleeping in the snow and rape
and war is an acceptable cost for our society and culture. But our society is deeply broken.
So how do we change? I'll talk about a couple of ways. There are many more, but these are two that seem anti-intuitive in our society.
First, we must stop seeing people as just as good as us. We must not look at the African American and
say that he is as good as a white man.
Rather, we need to see the black man with all of his cultural differences
and irritating habits and recognize that he is better for being black. In many ways, he is better than a white man,
and we need to admire those qualities and thank God that he isn’t the same as a
white man and so give him unique opportunities that whites couldn’t get because
he’s better than that. We need to look
at a woman and give her opportunities that men couldn’t get because she’s
better than he is. We need to look at
the homeless and the Latino and the transgender and the mentally ill and rather
than forcing them to fit in as “normal” we need to see their uniqueness and
recognize that they deserve an equal place because they are of unique cultures
and see things and respond to things differently than we. We need to stop demanding that these “minority”
cultures act “normal” in order to get a seat at the decision-making table. In a multi-cultural society we need to hear
from all cultures to make the society work.
This does not mean fitting each cultural group into a set role—our society
tried that and it didn’t work. Rather, an
international corporation needs to hire a black CEO because he is black.
A church needs to ordain a woman because she is a woman. A city council needs to invite a homeless
advocate to vote because she is homeless. We allow our children to marry people of other races. Not because they have learned to be “white enough” or “male enough” or “middle-class
enough” to be heard.
Second, to end the prejudice of our society, each minority
culture and community need to make their own decisions about their
communities. A majority culture leader,
or group of leaders, should not be deciding issues for a minority
community. A mayor in the pocket of the
business community should not be making decisions for the homeless
community. Yes, the business community’s
concerns should be heard and worked with, but they cannot be the deciding
factor in a city’s actions to the homeless.
Rather, the leaders of the homeless community should be the loudest
voice as to what happens to the homeless community. The reason for this is because any “solution”
handed to a community will never be successful unless they have bought into it themselves. And they will never buy into it unless they
have the loudest voice in creating it.
Changes in community must come from the community, not from a culture
that does not understand the community.
The Hispanic community should be allowed to make their own choices for their
community. Whites shouldn’t be making
decisions for them, or for the Black community, as if they “know what’s best
for them.” They don’t. The rich don’t know what’s best for the
poor. Men can’t decide what’s best for
women, nor the other way around. Groups
should be allowed to speak for themselves and to determine their community’s
We live in a society where all these cultures should be
equal. This means equal opportunities,
equal rights, and equal power.
Unfortunately, it is human nature to not give power or opportunity if it
means that one’s own person or culture loses opportunity or power. This is where Christ’s call to humility comes
in. Humility isn’t thinking less of
oneself, according to Jesus. Rather, it
is taking a lower station than one deserves.
It is time for those of us who naturally can take a powerful place,
whose voices are naturally heard, and give our place to others. Once we have gained the status and power of
this world, it is time for us to step down and surrender it, so that others can
have it. No, they will not use power in
the way we thing is best. In our opinion,
they might screw everything up. But it
will be their opportunity, their choices and our society, in the end, will be
better for it.
Let us who have control learn to lower ourselves to give
others the opportunities we had.