“That’s the funny thing about racism.”
Normally, you’d see a line like that on your Facebook timeline on some sort of meme from an organization with a bizarre and probably inappropriate name. You’d “like” it thinking it was ironic, then all your friends would see that you liked GOAT LOVE 4 EVER’s meme.
The troubling thing in this case is that I actually overheard this phrase today. I don’t know the context, but I really doubt it was coming from a good place. I almost stopped and said, “Wait, what?” but I don’t think I could handle the frustration. Do you want to know what the funny thing about racism is?
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Keep waiting all day, and if you are hoping for a hilarious punch line where I poke at racists in a funny way, hold your breath. And you will pass out. There is nothing funny about racism.
Actually, pretty much any us versus them mentality is dangerous. It creates castes, and castes are much harder to traverse than differences. When we becomes us, and we identify a they, then we are positioning ourselve higher (or lower in some cases) than them. We seperate ourselves from them and communion and joy become increasingly difficult.
Cultures are different. So what? Get over it. So you make more money than someone else. So you have a better education than someone else. So you supposedly picked yourself up by your bootstraps and made something of yourself. None of these things make you better. None of these things makes you deserving of something special or some special treatment. You can be proud of them. You can use those things to draw people close. But when you use them to push people away, you do everyone a disservice.
Oh, your ancestors are from Europe? Oh, my bad. You ARE special.
That’s what a lot of us think, and frankly it boils my blood. I can feel the coherence of this blog deteriorating around me as the blood pressure in my temples increases. Lets start viewing each other the way we should: jacked up. I’d use stronger language but some of my readers may have sensitive ears and also I’m trying to put that behind me.
Recently in class, I argued that learning about a foreign culture in which you do business in order to “take advantage of their cultural idiosynchrasies” is a poor business practice. I think it borders on racist. It says, “I’m American, and I am the best at business, so I will use my cunning to use your own inferior culture against you.” I was truly shocked to read how many people felt manipulation was the point of gathering cultural intelligence. Long-term relationships are not born of manipulation and having been taken advantage of.
“Hey, I know I used your culture against you, but lets be buddies anyway.”
It’s true in business, it’s true in church and it’s true in person to person relationships. If we allow our differences to be barriers, we will become increasingly isolated and decreasingly effective or relevant. If we allow our differences to inform our relationships and spotlight the areas where we do have common ground, we can grow together, make a difference, and build a lasting positive legacy.
We all try and we all fail. And in that, we are equals.