Posted August 15, 2014 by Tiffany Orr in Commentary and News

Racism: The Cause, The Cancer, And How Christians Can Get Beyond It

When Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States, some people saw him as the herald of a new era—The Era of Post Racialism. They saw his election as a sign that racism was finally abating in the United States and perhaps around the Western world.

But in the wake of racially charged attacks on Obama and racially tinged occurrences like the Michael Brown shooting, one has to acknowledge that that “racism is going away soon” thing was just a flight of fancy.

Racism is real, and will probably be with us for a while. To get past it, we have to understand it.

That’s why Dr. Philip Asante wrote “The Truth About Racism.”The Truth About Racism

In his new book, Asante, who has a doctorate in biblical studies, provides a thoroughly researched and carefully examined account that lays out the origins of racism from a biblical perspective.

The book is broken down into chapters which explore the origins, how the Bible was misused to justify racism and the lingering effects of racism.

He  goes into detail about the various church-sanctioned racist institutions such as slavery, segregation, colonialism and Apartheid. Asante also talks about how having an authentically Christian worldview can bring people past racism, and to the point where they realize that people are people.

Here’s what Dr. Asante had to say about his book, racism and Christianity:

Q. What is racism?
A. Racism is a relatively modern phenomenon. Firstly it assumes that different races exist, which is not true and so it is a social construct which creates division and is used as a way of domination and power. Racism can be defined a number of ways, but essentially the most common form of racism, academically referred to as “white racism,” is any attitude, action or institution which subordinates a person or group because of their color.

It is the belief that each “race” (which is a misnomer, as there is actually only one race on this planet, that is Human beings) or ethnic group, possesses characteristics or abilities that distinguish it as inferior or superior to another and causes discrimination and/or antagonism based on such beliefs. Racism leads to discrimination and prejudice and is accompanied by a belief of superiority and power.

Q.Does “reverse” racism exist?
A. Research shows that racism is predominantly a white vs black issue, whereby a white person behaves in a racist way towards a black person. History demonstrates this to be true e.g. Transatlantic slavery (The African Holocaust), Segregation, Colonialism and Apartheid. I have found that reverse racism, i.e. black people being racist towards white people, to be very uncommon in practice. It may sometimes manifest itself as retaliation or revenge as result of the initial white racism and is therefore often academically termed “Black anger” rather than racism.

Q. If race doesn’t exist on a biological level, why do you think so many people think that it does even in the age of the Internet?
A. The ideology of race is a social construct and is in itself racist. It has been scientifically proven that there is only one race, i.e. human beings. Humans should more correctly be referred to in terms of ethnic groups or nations. Scientists have shown that the differences between different ethnic groups is smaller than the differences within specific ethnic groups.

In other words differences between all human beings is minimal irrespective of ethnic group or nationality. Unfortunately, however, we are all educated and indoctrinated into believing that there are different races. Even the church uses the term race to describe different nationalities. Racism is inherently associated with inferiority and superiority and so the use of the term race immediately creates the dilemma and therefore division. The Bible does not differentiate people based on race or skin color, only based on nations and beliefs.

Dr. Philip Gyang Asante has a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy. Deeply passionate about ending racism, he believes that the Church, the body of Christ, has an obligation to speak up against what he calls “one of the most divisive issues on the planet.”

Dr. Philip Gyang Asante has a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy. Deeply passionate about ending racism, he believes that the Church, the body of Christ, has an obligation to speak up against what he calls “one of the most divisive issues on the planet.”

Q.What should Christians think about racism?
A.As a Christian, I believe that racism is evil and sinful. God created man in His own image and therefore it is an insult and offense to God for certain people to believe that they are better and for them to behave in a superior way to others. Also as the “Christian Church” has been implicated in various racist institutions, I have made it crystal clear in my book what a true Christian is and what they believe by referencing scripture. The church is the body of Christ on this earth and so there is no place for racism amongst Christians. Any form of racism is wrong and sinful.

Q. Why do you think people are hostile when it comes to talking about racism? Is the blame game helpful in discussions on the subject?

A.The issue of racism is an uncomfortable subject and can generate hostility for a plethora of reasons. It is a classic Victim-Perpetrator relationship. The victims feel a sense of anguish, injustice, upset, inferiority, shame, frustration and may either wish to forget and move on, or highlight and fight against it. The perpetrators believe themselves to be superior and therefore does not see any issue and so may continue with the same behavior and attitude. In addition there are those people who have never experienced racism and therefore do not understand the issue and so cannot empathize and often refuse to sympathize.

They often believe it is a fuss about nothing and those who stand against it are trouble makers or have chips on their shoulders. Some people feel guilty about either being racist or the historical racism in the records and so would rather ignore the issue or confine it to the annuls of history. They suggest that racism no longer exists and is historical and so should be forgotten and we should move on. Racism however is still alive and well and in my opinion is on the rise since the economic austerity and the appointment of President Obama. The blame game in terms of argument is not helpful, however, the issue must be debated and understood from both sides and an acknowledgment that racism exists and has existed in many forms must be recognized. The injustice done to black people in the past and which continues must be acknowledged as evil and sinful. Only when the issue is taken seriously and debated can any form of reconciliation take place and solutions be put in place

Q. Does your book just deal with racism in the West? Why was it so important for you to get this message out?
A. My book deals primarily with racism based on skin color, which is apparent worldwide. It focuses on the issues experienced by Africans, African Americans and those who are Afro-Caribbean. I co-published my book as I found it difficult to get a traditional publisher to take on such an emotive subject. The message is extremely important. We constantly read, hear about or see unjust treatment and situations experienced by people of color. Many young black people continue to be racially profiled and harassed by police and society.

Numerous cases and stories highlight the plight of African Americans. We see police and civilians killing black youth with impunity (e.g. Trayvon Martin), higher incarceration, de facto segregation, poor health and low social standing amongst many as part of the racist legacy. If the issue is highlighted then the evil racists get exposed (e.g. Donald Sterling) and people are forced to acknowledge the issue is real (or at least they can’t deny it) and positive action can be taken to fight against racism.

Q. You say that racism has roots in Darwin’s ideas, but didn’t the idea of “races” exist before Darwin (1800’s) and social Darwinism?
A. The idea of race did indeed exist before Darwin, however when Darwin published his evolutionary theories (‘On the Origin of Species’ and ‘The Descent of Man’), the classification of humans into different groups called races, generated a wider interest in the theory of evolution (Note: Evolution is a scientifically unproven theory, a belief, a faith, yet it is commonly taught as a proven fact and many therefore believe and assume that it is a fact and not a theory), plus whites were classified as being more evolved and therefore superior to other “races.” Darwin’s theories exacerbated the situation because many nefarious racist individuals now believed that they had “proof” that white people were superior to blacks and so were able to justify their racist views and the subjugation of black people.

Q. Do you think the Christian church is divided along racial lines? Is so, why? What will it take for racism to be a thing of the past?
A. The true Christian church tends to be more multicultural and welcoming now, however, many people claim to be Christians simply because they are white-skinned, European or American. Those who have this belief can often be narrow-minded and racist. The Southern Baptist church only denounced its racist past and involvement in slavery and segregation in the 1990s. The Dutch reformed Church created Apartheid and believed that God had intended for Blacks and Whites to be separate. This evil church led institution was only dismantled in 1994.

As a result of these institutions and their views the church is still divided. After the end of slavery and segregation blacks were not welcomed into white churches and so they set up their own places of worship. After World War II, Afro-Caribbeans were invited to Britain to help rebuild the country but were not welcome into the white churches to worship and so they had to set up their own churches. Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourselves” and yet this was not being put into practice and we still the legacy today. We also see various white supremacist groups such as the KKK and the Christian Identity movement who claim to be Christians but are evidently far from it as they do not follow or adhere to the teachings of Christ. Instead they make up there own rules for their own gain.

The Church is still divided because of man’s sinful nature and disobedience to God. Unfortunately racism will never be a thing of the past because of man’s fallen sinful nature, just as there will always be disagreements between people and wars etc, there will always be racism. However it is not to be ignored, we must continue to take a stand against racism and do all we can to reduce it and expose it as ungodly and evil.