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The Psychology of Racism in America - By David Bush (Fonte / Translate this Page!)


Racism. Now there is a word that can stir up emotions quickly! So many people have such strong views on this subject that it is really hard for a lot of people to talk about it with an open mind. The fact of the matter is that very many Christians struggle with this as well.

My goal is to help navigate you through this somewhat controversial subject and reveal some of the truths that you may not be aware of. It doesnít matter what race or ethnic background you may be, if you are a closed minded person you wonít agree with some of the things Iím about to cover. My intention is certainly not to offend anyone, but to help you remove the roadblocks between here and Heaven. You may be surprised at some of my views, but I am certain that Godís word will validate them.

Programmed For Failure

It seems to be a common practice of most people to stereotype others. It will occasionally be something positive, but most likely if they arenít just like us, it will be negative. This is something that is common to all races and in some cases even to church denominations!

One thing that makes this a hard process to break is that there is usually enough truth in it that we tend to believe everyone in the group is like that, with very few exceptions. Why do we do this? Part of the answer lies in programming.

Do you remember the experiment done in Riceville, Iowa in the 1960s? Jane Elliot, a 3rd grade teacher, divided up her class into brown-eyed children and blue-eyed children. To make a long story short, as she reinforced the idea that the blue-eyed group was superior to the brown-eyed group, noticeable differences began to appear quickly. The brown-eyed group began to perform poorly on their work, largely because they were told they werenít as smart as the blue-eyed children. They began to lose interest in trying to do better, because they felt they werenít capable. However, when the roles were reversed, the same result came from the blue-eyed students and the brown-eyed students started performing at their previous levels. There was also a serious difference in the way they treated one another. The group on the top always treated the group that was perceived as being the lower class group much worse than they had ever treated anyone before!

I believe this story is a good place to start, even if it doesnít complete the whole story of racism.

Psychologists have known for years that we as parents can contribute to the success or failure of our children by how we teach (program) them. It has also been proven that no matter where a child starts or how much negative programming they have endured, they can change enough to overcome it and go in either direction if they choose. The same can be said to some extent when it involves an entire race of people.

As an example consider the following. When the English first came to North America, they had very high self-esteem and high expectations for what they could accomplish. As a result they eventually dominated the entire continent. The story was exactly the opposite for the Africans that were brought to America by the slave traders. Several generations were dominated and treated as property. As a result there self-esteem was very low and just like the children in Ms. Elliotís class, they became to believe they werenít as good or as smart as the white race. Granted there were very little if any educational opportunities available, but this only compounded the problem. The lack of educational stimulus and the lack of initiative that developed would hinder them for many years to come.

Programmed for Racism

If we can be programmed to think less of ourselves, doesnít it stand to reason we can be programmed to think less of others? I believe thatís all racism really is, being programmed to believe that ďdifferent means worseĒ.

If you look back to the previous examples, the white man has, since the beginning of American history, dominated others. As a result that mindset has always subconsciously been passed on. The black man has always, until recently in America, been oppressed. This causes resentment that is focused toward the oppressor and is passed, by enlarge, from generation to generation.

When you take these attitudes and put them together, you have exactly the same thing Jane Elliot found in her classroom. Except on a national scale. The group that is on top at the moment is the group that is intolerant of the group that in not ďin powerĒ. The group that is not on top has resentment for the group that is.

As I mentioned earlier, people can change their programming and snap the chain that has been linked through so many generations and cultures. Many people have already done this. In some areas of the country racism is not as big an issue as in others. Some cultures donít except change through new ideas very readily. The point here is this: its not just one class of people or one race of people that has to change.

Culture, Comfort and Common Ground

Itís obvious that there are differences between all races of people. It is also true that everyone is prejudice against some group to some extent. It may be you arenít prejudice against someone based on their skin but maybe based on their behavior.

The fact is that we are different and we come from different backgrounds and cultures. The problem is not that we are different, itís that we seem to only want to focus on the differences.

Itís also true that people in general feel more comfortable around people that are like them because they have more in common. That is why interracial marriages are not anymore likely to occur in the absence of racism than in the face of it. There are a lot more differences in cultures than there is common ground to draw from. That is why the divorce rate of interracial marriages is higher than that of single race marriages.

The key to getting along is simple. We must strive to find common ground. There are some similarities between all people that we simply cannot afford to ignore. Let me give you a ďfor instanceĒ: God is no respecter of persons and Jesus died for all. If you canít except that youíll never be able to except anything Iím telling you as truth.

Have you ever noticed when a person gives his heart to the Lord, all the things that used to annoy people seem to gradually fade away? Think about it.

Putting It All Together

What are the things that need to be done to end racism in America? Here is my list.

∑ The black race must overcome their past programming. There is an old saying that goes ďsaying it donít make it soĒ, Just because someone has tried to program a person to believe they are inferior doesnít make it true. We are all created in Godís image. The race as a whole needs to realize who made them and who loves them as much as He loves anyone.

Stop worrying about the past. It doesnít matter how you got here, just be glad you are living in the best and most prosperous country in the world! The English settlers at Jamestown, the pioneers, the Chinese, Italians and every other race that lives here had to pay a price as well.

∑ The white race needs to remember that itís the caliber of a person that counts, not the color. God didnít create a superior race of people. You may be one of Ms. Elliotís blue-eyed children or one of her brown-eyed children, or one of Godís fair-skinned children or on of his dark-skinned children. It really doesnít matter - God looks at the heart.

Racism is a two way street, and even though itís not just a black and white issue, there are racist, both black and white. If the chain of racism and hatred is going to stop, it has to first stop in our own mind. Even if you donít think you can make a difference, it really doesnít matter, you must continue to try because of one simple, yet glaring fact ... There wonít be any racist in Heaven.