Racism is not just the majority’s problem. It can sometimes be easy for me, as an Indian-American and a minority in the United States, to think of my prejudices as less damaging than the prejudices that exist against me. However, if I refuse to see my prejudices against those around me, I have refused to see my responsibility to reconciliation, and I will never be able to help anyone.
We all contribute to injustice, whether we believe it or not. This issue isn’t just about calling majorities to reconcile with minorities; it’s between everyone who has a bias at all.
In my mind, it makes sense that minorities should band together to fight systematic injustice. In reality, though, we oftentimes further the injustices that are already against us by stubbornly holding onto our biases against other minority cultures in the United States. For example, if many Indians in the United States stereotype against African-Americans, and I refuse to acknowledge or counter that bias, I become part of the injustice that has existed against African-Americans in the United States for centuries.
Or, if another minority population ostracizes Latino-Americans, they add to the growing majority voices already belittling them. In both scenarios, the biases run both ways, because our human nature compels us to hurt those who hurt us, which just creates more division between us.
In the same way that minorities can’t ignore their prejudices against other minorities, they also can’t ignore their prejudices against the majority. If my peoples’ stigma of white Americans keeps us from ever forgiving them or entering into a relationship with them, we miss the entire point of racial reconciliation. Our pain and anger might be real and justified, but they cannot push us to hate.
As difficult as it is, minorities have to recognize that their stigmas against the majority contribute to the brokenness of prejudice. Defining and treating people according to their stereotypes strips them of their individuality, and this applies to both the minority and the majority of a nation.
And finally, there’s the majority. The majority group of any culture has to recognize its privileges and contributions to history in order for healing to take place. In the United States, the justice system is more skewed in favor of white Americans than it is in favor of minorities. The justice system reflects and influences the greater social system in the United States, all of which is rooted in historical biases. White Americans have a responsibility to address these biases on a social and personal level so that justice can truly be just, and people can truly be viewed as people.
Our biases impact how we view and treat people, and, in a bigger sense, how we view God. Not confronting our prejudices keeps us from confronting the sin inside us, which further separates us from each other and from God.
True reconciliation requires people of all races, majority and minority, to be willing to address their biases, genuinely forgive, listen to other people and engage in relationships with those who are vastly different than they are. In other words, true reconciliation requires humility, which is the most counter-cultural message we can preach.
JBU, are we willing to humble ourselves enough to acknowledge our contribution to oppression, prejudice, and hurt? Are we sincerely willing to love?
Adolph is a junior majoring in family & human services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.