The Common Good

10 Reasons We Don't Like to Talk About Race

Last week, I shared a post titled "a nation of cowards" and asked if we're indeed cowards when it comes to the conversation of racism and the continuous work toward reconciliation.

One thing that is clear to me is that the church is quite silent. We talk often of reconciliation that's necessary between God and humanity but need to keep pushing forward about how our faith informs and transforms our relationship with one another.

In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3.28/The Message)

Why is racism such a difficult topic and issue -- including for Christians? Well, here are some of my reasons:

  1. It's hard work. And people can be lazy. And talking about racism is an exhausting conversation because it brings up some deep questions. Reconciliation is hard work.
  2. Something called 'Life.' There's lots of other things going on -- umm, like the financial recession.
  3. Confusion. People don't like confusion. Folks like clarity and certainty. We like answers.
  4. Conflict. People don't like conflict and, well, the conversation of racism provokes conflict and strong opinions.
  5. Fear. People are afraid. Afraid to consider the possibilities that we're racist, prejudiced, or implicated by our silence. Afraid to consider that we live as victims in a "victimized" mentality. Afraid to consider that we need to "give up" something. Afraid to "count the costs."
  6. Apathy. People don't care. We're apathetic. And this is probably the scariest reason.
  7. What? We don't think it exists. What racism? What prejudice? And this is probably as scary as #6.
  8. How? People don't know how to talk about racism. We don't have an agreed upon framework to engage the conversation and move toward peace and reconciliation.
  9. We want to forget the past and just "move forward." It's over. Heck, Obama is president. It's a new day.
  10. [Insert additional reasons].

The topics of racism, prejudice, and reconciliation are indeed painful conversations. While I don't necessarily believe that the answer lies exclusively with the church, I do believe the answer lies with the gospel. It lies ultimately with the message of 'shalom' that God intended for humanity to live in fellowship with God and with one another -- because we are created in the image of God.

Check out this video about one way we can engage the discussion about racism. Far too often, we end up implicating 'the person' leading to lots of anger, confusion, and defensiveness. Many times, it's best to isolate the act and begin from there.

Eugene ChoEugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative nonprofit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also launching a grassroots humanitarian organization to fight global poverty. You can stalk him at his blog, eugenecho.wordpress.com.

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