This weekend, I took a nice run through our neighborhood. Well, it started out nice. The weather was great. Jeff Tweedy and Wilco were providing a nice and relaxing soundtrack.
And, then I turned down a street and encountered a vehicle plastered with hate-filled bumper stickers. The messages contained on this vehicle were beyond offensive. Yes, they were worse than the “Jesus is my Co-Pilot” stickers that drive me crazy (more on that another time). At the sight of the vehicle I found myself welling up with anger…and a sense of righteous indignation. I stopped to take it all in because I simply could not believe what I was seeing on a vehicle…in my neighborhood.
I found myself thinking, “How could anyone put these kinds of messages on their vehicle?” Then I thought, “Why? What is this person hoping to accomplish?”
Then it got worse because the person also had a “in case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” sticker. I’m not kidding! I would have taken a picture…but: 1) I don’t take a camera with me when I run 2) a picture would only further spread the hate-filled messages and greatly offend others.
So, not only had this person identified him/herself as a racist, he/she had also identified him/herself as a Christian.
I don’t know about you and how you interpret the Bible…But I’m convinced that the Bible is incompatible with racism.
I’m pretty sure when Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40), he did not intend that believers would only love some and hate others. And, Jesus’ interactions with the Samaritan woman and the Canaanite woman…he was breaking down all sorts of barriers…demonstrating how Jews should interact with others.
Then, I began to think about how in a round-a-bout manner I was glad this individual had displayed these stickers. He was being open and honest about who he is…And, he was letting those around him clearly know who they would be dealing with.
I mean, how do you like your racists? In or out of the closet?
Think about it for a minute…
Closeted racists are the folks that carry on as though all is normal. You develop friendships with them. You develop a great sense of trust. And, then, after they begin to feel more comfortable around you…they let down their guard and begin to make racists comments. At first, you might dismiss it…”Oh they were just joking”. Then, you begin to notice that your close friend is a racist. When you question closeted racists, they will deny it. They will make comments like, “I had a black friend in high school” or “My housekeeper is from Mexico.”
On the other hand, you have the out-of-the-closet racist. This is the kind of person who lets you know from the get-go what you are getting yourself into. They do not hold back. They wear their racists beliefs on their hats, t-shirts, skin, and bumper stickers. They don’t hesitate to make racist comments from the first moment of an initial conversation. These are the folks who will provide you with a lengthy educational statement on why the confederate flag is not racist or offensive because it represents standing “for” something…it represents “southern pride”…it represents the “joys and values of being southern”…it represents “rebelling against something you think is wrong”. While that may be how one person views the confederate flag, I don’t think it will convince those who see it as a sign of oppression and bigotry otherwise.
All of this reminds me that, while we have made great strides as a nation, we still have a long way to go. We still have a long journey ahead of us to work towards peace and unity.
Whether a racist is in or out of the closet, it is wrong and healing needs to take place. So, how do we confront racism today? In ourselves…in our churches…in our communities…in our nation…in our world?