The local pastors participating in the group called Ministers for Justice deserve our support and a hearty “God bless you” as they try to tackle an issue that has plagued humanity since man, and woman, realized there are people in the world who are different. That issue is racism.
But, these pastors aren’t taking a global view; a realistic approach given any attempt to help solve the world’s racism problem would require an effort of biblical proportions. Their focus is Robeson County.
It would seem the local religious leaders are attacking the problem, at least at first, with words. They meet at Robeson County Church and Community Center once a month and talk about their race-based differences and experiences. They aim to learn from one another, gain a better understanding of the racial problems and discrimination they have faced, and take the lessons learned back to their churches and share them with their congregations. The goal is to close the racial divide that separates the people — not all, but some — of Robeson County.
No marches, no signs, no slogans shouted in anger, no face-to-face confrontations with people they believe have wronged them, and no rioting, vandalism and looting. Just words shared in a respectful, reasoned manner.
And this approach has a better chance of fostering solutions with which to heal the wounds and cool the anger that, too often, are the products of racism.
Of course, if such discussions are to be successful, they must be honest. They must not flow from the belief that racism is peculiar to only one race of people or another, because it isn’t.
Some people don’t want to hear this, but it’s true: Racism exists in all of us regardless of color. It was planted in our DNA back when the human race was a scattered collection of hunter/gatherers who looked upon other clans they encountered as interlopers who would eat the food they needed and therefore were a threat to their survival. That instinctive reaction has faded with the passing of millennia, but still lives in us.
What saves us from constant physical conflict now is that we have evolved. The vast majority of us have embraced our ingrained racism and learned to deal with it, developing the ability to see others not as people of a different color, but as fellow human beings.
The concept of inherited racism needs to be included in any discussions of the societal problem. If it isn’t then any “solutions” forged as a result of the talks will be flawed and will serve to foster more blame, which in turn will plant the seeds of anger that will sabotage any progress made.
We are all to blame for racism. It exists in the suspicious, resentful and covetous aspects of our collective nature. Most of us control those ugly aspects and even relegate them to tiny whispers in our minds that can be ignored.
Some give in to them, often because of experiences at the hands of racist people. These victims deserve to be heard. Others use racism as a tool with which to build social status, fame and even wealth. These people should be shunned and banned from talks about healing racial wounds and building a more tolerant and just society.
With luck and the use of open hearts and minds, the Ministers for Justice may show us a path to a better Robeson County.