Young adult forum: Ignorance won't erase the problem of racism

Young adult forum: Ignorance won't erase the problem of racism

This is part 3 in a series, as it appeared in the General Board of Discipleship's "Young Adult Forums" in March.

The elimination of racism begins with education. By remaining ignorant of the current problems of racism, we can often act as though racism does not exist. We must do our best to make ourselves aware of the issues of racism present in our community, country, and world.

As Christians, the problems of racism are relevant to our faith. Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as ourself necessitates our involvement in the battle against racism. Staying informed about current issues of racism and discrimination are vital to participating in the struggle for justice and equality. Experiencing other cultures through their writing and theology also educates us about different perspectives. By opening our eyes to various problems in the world as well as diverse viewpoints, we can begin to eliminate the ignorance that leads to discrimination.

I must admit that I am often unaware of the news stories that are not the most highly publicized. I find myself becoming disillusioned and upset by watching the news chronicle one tragedy after another. Unfortunately, by avoiding the news, I am also neglecting to be informed about the situations of oppression and discrimination in the world. Instances of discrimination and racism are not always highlighted by the media. I then wonder if I should rely on the media to tell me when to become involved in an issue.

If people from around the country and world had not become aware of the conflict in Jena, La., this past year, would I have even known about the situation? It is my responsibility to become educated about oppression and injustice. I must remain attentive to problems such as racially unbalanced city or state governments or the unequal education standards in my area. I cannot excuse myself for lack of knowledge; the responsibility for obtaining information lies on my own shoulders. Until I become educated about the problems facing those around me, how can I respond?

Another way we as Christians can become educated about other views and perspectives is to read the theologies of those from other races and ethnicities. Theologies such as Black Liberation Theology, Latin American Liberation Theology, Womanist Theology, and numerous others offer perspectives perhaps different from our own. Reading theological works of other races allows us to encounter the Biblical text as well as Christian faith from a different view. As a white female, my readings in Womanist Theology have enabled me to consider the Christian faith from the experiences of a black female. By intentionally considering the interpretations and experiences of those from other races and cultures, we can all begin the journey toward greater diversity, openness, and understanding within Christianity.

Isolating ourselves in our own understandings leads to breakdowns in communication often resulting in discrimination and racism. By first alerting ourselves to the racism present throughout the world, we can begin to be aware of the serious problems which need attention. Then, by actively seeking the voices of traditionally silenced groups, we can open dialogue and seek equality both inside and outside the church.

Ignorance of the problems and views of others, of any race or ethnicity, does not excuse us from being involved in the solution. Christians must take the initiative to educate ourselves about these important issues and then seek to be a part of moving toward eradication of racism and all oppression and discrimination.

Question: How could the reading of different theologies find a place in my faith community?

Anna Maynard Lee, age 24, enters her second year at Vanderbilt University Divinity School this fall.

  • Part 1: Blind to color, blind to the issues
  • Part 2: Are homogenous churches acceptable churches?