I’m white. And I like that about myself.
This year, like many before, no Blacks are represented in the line up of nominees, once again indicative of a predominantly White kingdom that has developed in Hollywood, CA for over a century. The high-profile reactions, however have been interesting and varied.
Some, like Stacey Dash, would say that we should attend the Oscars, and while we’re at it, end BET and Black History Month, essentially integrate into whiteness.
Whereas others, namely Jada Pinkett-Smith say the opposite: boycott the Oscars, and take all the minority influences and resources with us and make our own films, essentially segregate from whiteness.
I must say, I appreciate the debate. It starts conversations like this. However, the debate seems to be between integration vs. segregation. When we say segregation, we aren’t talking about white and colored bathrooms, but something even more public and visible…
Which is correct? Segregation? Integration?
Segregation according to the Jim Crow laws means “Equal, but separate.”
The underlying philosophy here is, ‘ethnic differences are bad, so stay away from me.’
Integration is a relatively new development in our nations history. One culture gets integrated into another, and generally the majority culture determines what the integrated culture looks like. In our ‘Melting Pot’ the soup historically tastes like whatever Caucasians says it should taste like. In the USA, this means that Blacks wake up every morning in a predominately White environment.
The underlying philosophy in integration is, ‘ethnic differences are bad. Become like me.’
So both Integration and Segregation are built on the idea that ethnic differences are bad.
(Though integration is often meant to mean the coming together of different peoples, how it is accepted and practiced here in the US looks quite different. I am referring here to the practiced form of integration, which is essentially assimilation.)
While the debate rages between segregation and integration, neither one will end well, and any mix of the two will end just as badly. Both are built on pride and entitlement, and especially the idea that cultural and ethnic differences do not benefit us.
Wait a second, do ethnic differences benefit us? Maybe they’re bad after all…
There must absolutely be something more fundamental to the human design that transcends ethnic differences that we must accept, before we can truly appreciate those differences. If there is nothing more fundamental then skin color, then there is nothing to actually paint color in a good light. Heck without something that transcends color, color differences might be bad for all we know.
But, we are made in the very Image of God.
You may not even believe in God, but humor me. What if God can be known? What if God desired above all else that we know Him and make Him known? And what if this God made humans in His Image, so that in knowing humans, you and I can learn aspects of God? And what if this same God is so complex and infinite that no one person could adequately mirror His Image?
And what if, just imagine, this God created ethnic differences and languages etc., so that in knowing people very different from us, we learn aspects of God that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen?
If we actually believed these propositions, then we wouldn’t arrive at Segregation or Integration.
We would arrive at racial Admiration.
Let’s keep hypothesizing…
Take the Image of God out of people. Now, what if a Black group of people developed on one isolated island, and White people developed on a separate isolated island? No outside influences.
Now let’s plop them into a room with each other and just watch. They would have absolutely no reason to think that their differences were good. They would just look at each other curiously and think, ‘you are different than me. There must be something wrong with you.’ At the very least, no moral value could be placed on this ethnic distinction, as morals in this scenario would not exist. They would either separate from one another or one would become like the other.
Honestly, that scenario is too abstract. Let’s take for instance two real people. Put them in Hollywood or the Media. Name one Stacey Dash, and the other Jada Pinkett-Smith. In reality, their responses to racial injustice are quite predictable, as predictable as the two different men in the room. It’s predictable, and we’ve seen versions of segregation and integration groping around in our nation’s history time and time again. Neither will bring the diversity that we say we want. Neither will bring reconciliation. Only the mutual acceptance of the very Image of God in people different then us can do that.
To reject the Image of God is to be racist.
So while we wallow around in the Oscar debate, understand that without a conviction of the Image of God, it goes nowhere. And before you choose a side, consider that maybe both are inadequate.
The only way to Appreciate racial differences is to love the image of God in people. The only way to love the Image of God in people is to love God. The only way to love God, is to be loved by God.
Go make yourself loved by God. By the way, it’s impossible.
So, yes, the solution to racism is impossible.
Jesus was the ultimate outcast, the ultimate minority. There is and will never be anyone else like Him. Jesus left the pomp and parade understandably customary to such a King, lived with humans, and was killed by his own Image Bearers. So, God died. He resurrected, and actually defeated death.
It would take nothing less than the ultimate minority, Jesus, reaching out to racist individuals as us, for us to have the gall to celebrate the differences in each other.While the solution is impossible, it is certainly achievable because of what Jesus Christ did.
I guarantee you this:
No one can predict just what would happen if we actually looked for the Image of God in people different then us. But whatever it is, it would be something unstoppable.
So, I’m white, and I like that about myself. Are you non-white? That’s awesome. Tell me about that. What I can learn from you today, and ultimately God?