By Tim Spiess
September 19th, 2016 Updated June 2020
This is the current debate that is raging in the U.S., now renewed after the wrongful death of George Floyd. Many people of African descent – 'black' people –have been discriminated against in their lives. Whether that discrimination came from a single person, or at some organizational or institutional level, most African-American people have experienced being treated inappropriately due simply to the color of their skin. It seems a fact difficult to deny that many African-American people do experience more “discrimination” (defined as being treated in a negative or unfair way) than non-African-American people.
Some African-American people believe that the phrase “All Lives Matter” is a slight on what they believe is disproportional discrimination against African-American people. They believe that changing the slogan to “All Lives Matter” hides, minimizes, or takes the spotlight off what they are trying to proclaim - that the U.S. ‘society in general’ or 'the majority of white people in the U.S.' discriminate against African-American people. But is that true? Do the majority of people in the U.S. discriminate against African-American people? Or, is their 'systematic racism' (systematic meaning systems people set up and run like governments or businesses) practiced in the U.S. at this time? Let’s take a look at some facts to try and determine if the majority of people in the U.S. discriminate against African-American people or if there is systematic racism practiced.
There is no question that there remains in the U.S. many people who view ‘African-American’ people in a negative light. Whether they be bigots or ignorant or backwards or fearful - these people exist probably by the millions. The degree to which they see African-American people in a negative light varies. Most merely are more mistrusting of people who are different than they are, just like all human beings tend to be. Some have stronger stereotypes of African-American people and behave as such. A few actively seek to persecute or harm African-American people when they see an ‘opportunity’. Generally speaking, rural areas (which are more homogeneous racially) typically have more bigots or racists than urban areas (which are more heterogeneous racially).
The people of the U.S. have a dismal track record on racism. The horrors of slavery at the nation's beginnings is inexcusably evil. People who "owned" slaves or who tolerated others who owned slaves were guilty of a great immorality.
Having said that, it is important to note that there are distinctions about people at the time of slavery that are meaningful. There were basically four different types of people regarding their views and actions about slavery during the time of slavery.
There were those who were against it and who fought it or resisted it to the best of their ability at every opportunity. Those people were innocent of the evil of slavery.
There were those who supported, facilitated and profited from slavery but did not own slaves. They were guilty.
There were those slave owners who saw African-Americans as less than human and who abused slaves. These were the guiltiest ones who perpetrated the greatest evils.
There were those people who were disagreed with some aspects of slavery, who did not see African origin people as less than human, and who valued their servants and treated them well. They are guilty as well if they purchased their servants (did not pay them a regular wage for their work) or used threat of force or punishment to keep them.
The point is that there are degrees of evil or wrongdoing. Killing ten people is worse than killing two people. Torturing the person you murder is worse than quickly killing them. Beating a 'slave' is worse than admonishing a paid servant. Being a racist ('black people are...', 'white people are...') is worse than not being a racist. To paint every non-slave person during the time of slavery in the U.S. as the most evil person imaginable and as making up the majority of non-slave people during the period of slavery is both false and unhelpful. The 'all-or-nothing' thinking is almost always erroneous when talking about human ethics and behavior and does nothing but promote or support false concepts, ignore meaningful distinctions, and advocate for unreasonable extremism.
Finally, and most importantly, people today who did not participate in or advocate or tolerate or support slavery in the past, and who are not racist in the present, are not guilty of anything in regard to past slavery. To treat them as if they are because of the color of their skin is just as racist and morally wrong as the attitudes of the people that produced slavery. RACISM WILL NOT SOLVE RACISM. WRONGNESS WILL NOT SOLVE WRONGNESS. Love and forgiveness and righteousness will solve all problems. Turning to a heavenly Father who tells us what is right and wrong through His Son will solve MANY problems, including racism.
Is the U.S. currently a racist nation?
The accusations by some of those who focus on the color of people's skin instead of the content of a person's character, is that the U.S. is still a racist nation. What they mean by that is that racism is systematically practiced in all areas of life and in all part of the U.S. Here are the dictionary definitions of "racism":
Cambridge: “the belief that some races are better than others, or the unfair treatment of someone because of his or her race.”
Merriam-Webster: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."
Oxford: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”
So, to be true and consistent, if the claim that racism is universally practiced by 'white people' in the U.S. - and the further claim is true that 'white people' make up and run all the wealth providing and power providing systems (governments, businesses, etc.) in the U.S. - then it follows that no non-white person would attain to positions of wealth or power. This is certainly how it was during slavery in those areas of the nation that were heavily pro-slavery. It is a fact that virtually no African origin people had wealth or power during the time of open racism which is what characterized the period of slavery for most areas in the U.S.
Therefor, to claim that the white people of the U.S. are all "racist" or that there is "systematic racism" in all areas of life in the U.S. would mean that virtually no African-American people would hold positions of wealth or power, and certainly none would hold the top positions of wealth or power in the U.S. Let's look at a few facts to see if this is true.
An African-American man was elected the President of the United States, which position is arguably the most powerful position on the planet. The United States is a democratic republic and therefore the majority of people in the U.S. (through their representatives) voted to have a African-American man as the nation’s leader. While this fact does not prove that all discrimination against African-American people has been removed from all people in the U.S. society, it does strongly indicate that the claim that the majority of people in the U.S. are racist is false and that systemic, institutional, large scale ‘organized’ discrimination against African-American people is not a reality. Here are some additional facts to support the truth that the U.S. is not a "racist nation".
These are facts I encourage the reader to investigate and validate.
These facts do NOT make a case for the sad reality that there continues to be racist individuals who do discriminate against African-American people. It DOES make the case that universal systematic racism does not exist in the U.S.
One area of particular concern is law enforcement and criminal justice. There is no doubt that African-American men are stopped, arrested and incarcerated at a higher rate than non-African-American men. However, it is not clear why. To assume racism is the cause is biased and suggests emotions are ruling one's thoughts, not facts, because there are no facts or statistics that validate that racism is the cause for law enforcement officers arresting black men. No doubt some percentage of unfair treatment of African-American men can be attributed to racism, and any that can be attributed to racism is too much.
But it is a far different argument to say that there are some individuals who are racist and who discriminate against African-American people in their realms of influence; than it is to argue that the majority of white people and the institutions they run and operate (the 'systems') are systematically racist. For former is true. The latter is false, extremely destructive and can be used to wrongfully justify violence. Just because a few individuals in a "system" (like a State government) are racist does NOT mean the entire organization is practicing racial discrimination.
If I Choose to Self-Identify in Some Way, Then I Should Focus on Cleaning Up My 'House':
It is this authors reasoned view that any reference to a person's color is at some level racist, or is encouraging racism. The color of one's skin is truly meaningless and should be completely ignored. Furthermore, for an individual to make the color of one's skin the primary factor in self-identity is sad, wrong and destructive. It is the epitome of the basic problem with the human race...that we care about that which we should not (what color someone's hair or skin is), and we don't care about that which we should (a person's character and their behavior). For example, the protester who is peaceful is demonstrating good character. The 'protester' who is engaging in, fomenting, or doing nothing about violence or destruction of property is demonstrating bad character. (Please see my article called "The Irrational Nature of Identity Politics".)
If any group of people choose to primarily self-identify with some unchangeable attribute (like one's skin color), and as a result, they call themselves a community by that attribute, then that group of people should make sure their community is doing what is right before it accuses other 'communities' of doing what is wrong. So, for example, if I self-identify by race (say Asian), and I believe I am part of an Asian community, then before I start accusing what I believe are other 'community's' (for example the Hispanic community) wrong doings towards me, I should make sure that my community is doing what is right. It is traditionally called claiming the high moral ground, and what that means is that before I can correct other's wrong doings, I should make sure I am doing better or well with my own behaviors. That way, I avoid hypocrisy and blaming others for what could be my own self-caused problems.
While is it absolutely true that African-Americans have historically been persecuted and abused in PAST U.S. history; and that some African-Americans continue to face some level of discrimination from individuals; the current generation of African-American people as a whole are not persecuted or abused by white people. The U.S. society as a whole is not racist toward darker skinned people...there has been significant advancement over the decades AWAY from racist discrimination.
It must also be noted that there are significant problems in the African-American community. 72% of African-American children are born to unmarried women and are raised by a single parent, usually the mother, while the national average of unmarried child bearing is 25%. The fact that only approximately a quarter of African-American men choose to be a responsible dad for the children they produced will have significant negative consequences. What message does that send to the young boys whose dads are only around when they feel like it? A message of commitment and being responsible for one’s actions? A message of selflessness and sacrifice for others, which is at the heart of goodness and rightness?
It is also a fact that most of the violence and murders in the city of Chicago, for example, are perpetrated by African-American men. 75% of those murdered in Chicago are African-American and 71% of the murderers are African-American. In 2010, the racial mix in Chicago was 32% African-American, 45.3% white, 5% Asian and 3% mixed races. If the population in Chicago was 75% African-American, one could argue that the murder rates are proportional, but it is not – it is only 32%.
Furthermore, national statistics tell us that about 95% of the people murdering black people are other black people. That fact rebukes a claim of 'white racism' and affirms the truth that the 'black community' is to blame for some serious problems negatively affecting the black community.
Facts like these do not support the claims of race agitators who blame people of other races for the problems of their own race, but instead rebuke them, and point to the desperately needed truth that for all of us, it is NOT our skin color that matters, but the content of our character, just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said (and the One from whom Dr. King learned from). The only "race" that matters is that we are all members of the human race. And the solutions to our problems START with how I, as an individual, choose to behave. And the fundamental problem is solved when I look to the right person to understand how to behave. That person is the real, historical Joshua of Nazareth as this web site makes clear.
The simple truth is that ALL LIVES MATTER, INCLUDING African-American lives. The U.S. ‘society’ cannot make up for the past wrongs done to African-American people. But every individual is obligated to act rightly towards other individuals, no matter their skin color or other non-moral factors they cannot control. The statue representing justice, where the woman holding the scales is blind-folded, is the ideal – that people are not treated by how they look or by physical or demographic characteristics they cannot change - but rather they are treated equally under the law. If you want to solve problems in your realm of influence, treat others with the highest principles of rightness and love. And if you want to rise above the current lawlessness and anger, turn to the One who can make you a Change Agent that is desperately needed (see the rest of this web site to get to know that Person).
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) people believe that law enforcement officers – in general and across the U.S. - discriminate against young African-American men. There have been some instances that have been caught on camera, where the police did not handle the situation well – where the officers were too rough or too quick to use too much force resulting in the harm or death of the African-American citizen. There is no doubt that a small percentage of police officers are prejudiced against people different from themselves, but the facts would suggest it is a vast minority. So why blame racially innocent people for the actions of a few bad people??? That is wrong and unjust and will NOT lead to good solutions.
An important distinction must be made between blaming prejudice or racism versus a disregard for law, rules or decent behavior.
There are hundreds of thousands of interactions between police and African-American citizens each day that do not result in the harming of African-American citizens. In addition, in the few cases where a African-American citizen was harmed or treated badly, it is seldom a situation where the officer had NO BEHAVIORAL CAUSE to approach the citizen. In a few cases, clearly the young African-American man was not being a model citizen when they were approached by the police officer(s). So, yes, be upset when innocent, well behaved people of any color are being harassed or abused by law enforcement officers. But you have no basis for righteous anger when a poorly behaving person is approached and possibly arrested by law enforcement officers. And don't blame innocent, well intentioned law enforcement officers for the wrong doings of the few bad law enforcement officers.
Furthermore, to deny that many young African-American men are often frustrated or angry is to deny reality. Some African-American ‘artists’ and others in the entertainment industry seem to thrive on making incendiary and unhelpful statements in their lyrics and on projecting anger against people different than themselves or who they see as ‘at fault’ for their problems or the African-American community’s problems.
The simple truth is that ANYTIME you start pointing out a person’s skin color instead of making judgments based on character and behavior, you already are either wrong or heading that way fast. For example, let’s say a man robbed a liquor store and that man’s skin color was ‘white’, and the news headline said, ‘White man robs liquor store’. Any comments regarding the man’s skin color is not helping bring justice to the criminal or peace to the victims. Rather, it is merely fomenting prejudice against a person based on some physical aspect of their person that has NO RELEVANCE to the crime or the solution to the crime. The ONLY way a comment like that would be relevant would be in the situation where the color of the perpetrators skin had some direct connection to the crime committed. For example, in the case of an Asian person murdering a white supremacist who actively preached hatred towards Asians, that person’s race would be relevant.
What is the bottom line to the Black Lives Matter controversy and racism in general? Here is a set of facts that present that bottom line:
Until the African-American community can fix these serious problems, they should be more reflective and current-fact based before blaming others for some of the problems they experience. In particular, young men with no positive direction and no positive male role models are going to have problems.
Isn’t it time to move on regarding the past wrongs done by European bigots and supremacists to African people? If a generation or two of white people have openly admitted that what their parents, grand parents or great grandparents did regarding the slave trade and slavery in general was evil, why not put that behind you? Isn’t forgiveness superior to bitterness? Is gaining money or power going to help African-American people's souls? Is trying to punish innocent people due to the color of their skin going to solve problems? Will money or power solve moral problems? Will racism solve racism???
The solution is not a societal one. Rather, the solution is an individual moral or spiritual one. Everyone needs to know two things. First, that we have a Father who loves us and cares about us and He does NOT CARE about the color of our skin, but rather the content of our character - He sees every individual the same, as a member of the human race He created, and He gave us a Leader who gave us principles to live by. Second, that we set our after-life destiny by the choices we make in this life...we can condemn ourselves by rejecting love as the means to make things better, or we can embrace truth and rightness and love and thereby abide in eternal life.
If you are a person who is caught up in unrighteous anger (harming or wanting to see harmed those who had nothing to do with the wrongful act you are protesting) and you are seeing people by the color of their skin, then you are doing poorly and you should not expect a favorable outcome to your eternal destiny should you die today. This simple truth can cause you to seek the deepest and truest change on one's life - that God, our Creator and Father condemns no one, rather, we condemn ourselves. If we walk in unrighteous anger, we are in darkness. If we are not using love and compassion as our foundation to solve problems, then we are in darkness. If I don't care about what is actually true and right, then I am lost and in darkness.
It is a basic fact of human life, that ON AVERAGE, children that have good dads who truly love them turn out to be better human beings than those who don’t. So, how can a person get to know the Father of their soul? This web site provides the answer to that question from many different angles.