Racism is a Heart Problem, Not a Skin Problem

Originally written August 18, 2021

As one of the few white people in my community (I’m usually the only one) I’ve had lots of conversations with Vincentian friends about racism. This is particularly true about racial situations in the United States. And I’ve had some fun experiences because of my whiteness as well

A few weeks after coming to Barrouallie I was walking down the road, and a man called me over. He smiled and said, “why is a white man walking up and down my street?” The important thing to remember is he wasn’t being racist, in fact when he was excited to learn I’d come as a missionary. For the first few months the name “white man” stuck, not because they were being racist, but because they didn’t know my name, today they all call me John.

Living here has taught me many lessons about racism, but none more important that this

Racism doesn’t have to do with your skin color…….

It has to do with your heart.

I would define racism is an attitude that looks upon other people groups as less important than you. But there are others who define it as some other nationality (particularly white) getting privileges others don’t receive.

This is a very flawed definition because the answer to racism becomes “becoming inclusive” or making sure others have the same rights as white people. I’m all for people having rights or privileges, but that won’t fix the attitude of my own heart, or how I perceive them.

The only cure for Racism is a transformed heart that treats all people groups with dignity and respect.

Over the last six-years, the Lord has helped me live in unity with my Vincentian brothers and sisters. This has nothing to do with my being “anti-racist” or becoming more “inclusive”. I just treat them with respect and dignity as image-bearers, and they do the same for me.

It’s a joy to see how the people of Barrouallie “look out for me” because I “look out for them”

  1. Last year I suffered from a severe stomach virus so we couldn’t have church. Four church members came by to cook for me, and make sure I was okay. The next day many people from the community asked what had happened.
  2. Another time I got sick, and had three separate friends to come by, and see how I was doing
  3. A few months ago my car hood wouldn’t latch properly. Three people came by to tell me it wasn’t closed, and then a neighbor helped me fix it
  4. Another day I left a car door open (still not sure how that happened). A friend came down, and told me it was open….nothing was taken
  5. And a few years ago I went home for Christmas and let a young man in the community drive my car while I was gone. The week after I got back a woman motioned me over and whispered “I saw somebody else driving your car!”

The point is it’s possible for people from other races to live in harmony

You just treat them with dignity and respect

And it helps if you’re part of the same family 🙂

There is no easy fix for racism friends, but I can tell you the starting point is your heart instead of your skin color.

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