So let’s call it a shadow racism that can rear its head in anyone’s life. And because it’s in the shadows, it needs to be brought into the light. Here are five examples:
Areas to Check for Shadow Racism
Let’s say you are an employer and you’ve solicited resumes. There are no pictures on them just their education and experience, accomplishments and credentials. You have four in front of you that have been vetted and are virtually identical in quality. You look at their names: Mitchell, April, Prince and Denada. You’re white. It’s obvious to you that two of these candidates, based on their names – Prince and Denada – are probably black. Mitchell and April – to your thinking – are almost assuredly white.
Who are you going to call for the interview? Do you privately make an assessment of worth, value, capability or likability based on names—even though the resumes are the same?
2. Dating and Marriage.
You see a black man with a white woman on a date. Or even married. How do you viscerally feel about it? Good or bad, neutral or biased, positive or negative? I remember one white man telling me: “I just don’t like it. I just don’t like it.” This despite there being nothing wrong with interracial relationships or interracial marriage. In God’s eyes, it’s not an interracial thing at all. It’s just two human beings whom He created for relationship with Him and with each other.
And lest we forget, when a white/black marriage took place in the Bible and was met with racism and prejudice, God stepped in and gave an immediate condemnation of that racism and prejudice. Drawing a blank? It was in relation to Moses marrying a Cushite, a people known for their dark-skinned features (cf. Numbers 12:1-11).
Four black high school students were going door to door to raise money for their football team in Wynne, Arkansas. One minute they were laughing and talking to each other, and the next minute they were on the ground in a stranger’s front yard with their hands behind their backs, while a white woman with a handgun ordered them to stay put. Before she even went out with her gun, she had already called the police. The officer arrived, and he saw the woman holding a gun on the four boys lying on the ground. He had the children stand up, and they explained they were selling discount cards for their school athletic program. When she was asked why she pulled the gun on them, she said it was because all four boys were black and that area was white.
Another way of demonstrating shadow racism is through pseudo-acceptance. As one woman from Africa said to me, “Racism is if you invite me to a party but don’t invite me to dance with you.” Meaning, not truly invite me in—into involvement, into engagement. As another woman and friend of mine once told me, it is as hurtful to be in a room as the only black person and be shut out or not engaged as it was when a white boy spit in her face when she was in the fourth grade because she was black.
5. Family Life.
One last area where shadow racism can manifest itself (though the list could sadly go beyond these five examples), is in our home life. What do your children hear you say? What do they see you do? How are you shaping their thinking, their perspectives? Does a viewpoint toward people of color come out as you drive, walk through a mall or watch the news?
I was told of a four-year-old in our children’s ministry who didn’t want a black volunteer to hug her because they were afraid the black would rub off. Now granted, that’s a four-year-old. And that dear volunteer just vowed to love that child even more—knowing they were four and didn’t know better. But apparently that was the first time that child had ever been touched by a black person.
Why is that?
A Public Religion Research Institute study found that in a 100-friend scenario, white people had just one black friend, one Hispanic friend and one Asian friend. The other 97 were white. Black people didn’t do much better. Out of 100 friends, they had 8 white friends, two Hispanic friends and no Asian friends.
All to say, racism can flow in all directions—not just whites toward blacks, but blacks toward whites, Hispanics toward Asians, whites toward Hispanics. There is no end to how it can manifest itself, and how shadow racism can enter into any of our lives.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.