Sunday, July 14, 2013

Racism is More Innocuous and Pervasive Than You Think

One of the saddest things about this case is the way it becomes a predictable stage for the pervasive callousness and ignorance of White Americans to be expressed. Texas Governor Rick Perry said today, "I think our justice system is color-blind." How you feel about that simple statement says a lot about you and it probably predicts how you view this case.

To those who don't understand where we're coming from, try to grasp this. I'm not picking on Governor Perry. Rather, I'm using his words precisely because they're so representative. In this bland, simple statement--"I think our justice system is color-blind"--American racism is epitomized. These simple words are offered without any proof whatsoever, and the power of our wishful thinking is such that they have the ring of common sense.

The other angle on it is that this is a fundamentally mysterious issue that we all have to decide for ourselves however we wish. "I think our justice system is color-blind." Or "I think our justice system is color-blind." As if there is no evidence to be had. As if our belief has no consequences. To believe that it is color-blind when it is not is to do added violence to its victims. People who in other respects insist on the truth--inviolate and absolute and knowable--suddenly become champions of agnosticism when their world of White privilege is threatened.

"Of course our justice system is color-blind." In America in 2013, you're allowed to say that in polite company. You're allowed to offer it up without backing it up at all, and among most White crowds you'll get nods of agreement. It's common sense.

That's what racism can do. It can take utter fictions and turn them into common sense. It can render otherwise normal people impervious to evidence. It takes the burden of proof away from those defending the justice system and back on those of us who simply ask that the facts be acknowledged. The burden of proof rests with those who say that now, for the first generation in American history, we have achieved a color-blind justice system. Tell me how that happened. Show me the evidence.

I am not here at this time to offer statistics to prove the justice system is racist. If you think our justice system is color-blind, statistics are not what you need. Because they will not convince you. Repentance comes through personal experience and the weight of the Spirit of God himself bearing down on you. I will not try to disprove your racist faith. I will bide my time and trust in the God of history who will bend all things to his will.

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