Sharon E. Watkins is the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.
“Unfair racial stereotypes have taken root in the hearts of people”
Recently I posted a prayer. It was in response to the events in Baltimore: a young black man was mortally injured while in police custody, citizens took to the streets, and on the day of the funeral, the protests turned violent. My prayer was for all: those who mourn, those who are injured, the protesters, the police. I prayed for a release from the sin of racism and our dependence on violence to solve our ills.
As so often happens, the word “racism” triggered angry responses. “How can you say ‘racism’ when we don’t even know what happened?” Let me try to explain. Racism is more than what is in the heart of an individual person at the moment of a particular act. Racism is the cumulative history of all those thoughts and acts. They add up to a pattern in which people of color are routinely and systematically treated differently than white people.
Unfair racial stereotypes have taken root in the hearts of people. They cause us to react to people differently—in stores, on the streets, in encounters between police and citizens. They even affect the way we describe violence and destruction of property. Young white men smashing windows, overturning cars, and battling police after a big athletic event are “revelers,” “out of control fans.” But a group of mostly African American youth who do similar things out of sorrow and rage that a young black man has died in police custody are dangerous “thugs.” The difference in the two descriptions is telling. Happy “revelers” whose youthful celebration “got a little out of hand” can be corrected and forgiven. “Dangerous thugs” present a much more ominous threat.
Continue reading at Time Magazine site: HERE