Beckett: My Experience with Racism

This article is in response to the injustice inflicted upon George Floyd. I’ve waited this long to write about it because I needed a lot of time to gather my thoughts on everything that’s happened so I could give a sober rather than emotional response.

This article is my own personal reflections on my experiences with racism as well as the nationwide reaction to recent events, so you can choose to agree or disagree.

Let me start off first by saying that what happened to George Floyd was absolutely unjust.

I’m a conservative person. If you’re familiar with my writing here, you probably know that already, especially as an LCMS Lutheran (a conservative church body). Unfortunately, many conservatives, in response to this tragedy, have responded by drudging up Floyd’s past, whether real or imagined, to justify the police’s actions. Whether he had a criminal record or not, and whether or not he was guilty of the criminal activity he was suspected for, the way the officers involved dealt with the situation was extremely unprofessional, violent, unnecessary, and unjust. These men need to be brought to justice to whatever extent the law deems fit.

I am in favour of the peaceful protests that have occurred, but the rioting and looting that have also taken place are as equally violent, unnecessary, and unjust as the officers’ actions. Someone shared a tweet someone made (sorry, I can’t find it) that as a teacher, when children are throwing a temper tantrum, they need to be heard rather than punished. Except these rioters are adults who have already grown through the psychological stages of development to make wise, logical decisions.

That these rioters and looters are like children having a temper tantrum is not something to be honoured, but needs to be severely reprimanded. Grown adults regressing to a former stage of child development is unhealthy and should not be enabled. What they are doing is not only a violation of the 4th Commandment (obeying authority) but also a violation of the 7th, 9th, and 10th Commandments (not stealing and coveting, but rather helping our neighbour retain their property).

All right, I’ve spouted enough exposition. Now let’s get to the main body of this article.

Have I Experienced Racism?

Yes.

From my experiences with racism, it is my personal belief that while the remnants of racism in our country remain, it is no longer a systemic thing as the Left claims, but an individual basis. The only systemic racism that exists against Blacks is abortion. In 2016, Black women topped the rate of abortions at 38%. That is nearly 8.2 million black babies aborted in 2016, and this number is only increasing. If we want to address actual systemic racism that exists, we need to target organisations like Planned Parenthood.

Moving on, my first experience with racism, unfortunately, was at a very young age in 1995. I was 5-years-old living in not-so-good parts of Detroit, and as I entered kindergarten I experienced racism firsthand. I’m a multiracial person born of an interracial marriage. My dad is White and my mom is half Black and half Puerto Rican. What you see when you look at me is the Black and Puerto Rican part of my heritage.

As I say I experienced racism first as a kindergartner, you might assume this was from White children, and you’d only be half right. I did experience racism from White children, one in particular who was a 5th grader who would beat me up nearly every day after school, calling me all sorts of racial slurs like “nigger.”

But I also experienced racism from Black kids. They would call me “mulatto” (a term designating a person of mixed ethnicity, typically with one white parent and one coloured parent), which is a derogatory term for my people. (Although much as Blacks have taken back “nigger/nigga” to use it for “good,” some mixed Hispanics have done the same with “mulatto.”) Neither the Blacks nor Whites in the neighbourhood liked the fact that I have interracial parents. The only friend I recall having was this light-skinned Puerto Rican girl; we both had crushes on each other.

Even my Black teacher was racist toward me. She didn’t call me racial slurs, but she did treat me differently than the rest of the kids, who were either Black or White. This was no small difference. She literally called me “stupid” and went out of her way to make me feel stupid.

Ignorant Racism

Fortunately, that’s the only time I’ve experienced racism violently, both verbally and physically. Well, it’s unfortunate I experienced it at such a young age (and had no idea what was going on), but it’s fortunate in that it stopped once we got out of Detroit.

However, the racism I find even worse is ignorant racism. With blatant racists such as with what I experienced, at least the people are honest about it and you know where they stand. Ignorant racists, however, don’t even know they’re racist, or they at least won’t admit it. I’ve experienced this from both Whites and Blacks, and I continue to experience it. Let’s address it from White people first.

When most White people meet me, they’re immediately curious about my ethnicity, but sometimes they don’t know how to respectfully ask me what my ethnicity is. Every coloured person is different about this. Some don’t want you to ask at all, but I don’t mind the curiosity because I think it’s genuine and, quite frankly, a lot of White people need more exposure to different cultures they’re not familiar with. For me, “What’s your ethnicity” is simply fine.

However, some go about it quite ignorantly. It’ll usually go something like this:

“So, what’s your nationality?”

“I’m American,” I say. Nationality is the nation you’re from, not your ethnicity. If they use this wrong terminology, I’ll then say, “I think what you mean to ask is my ethnicity. I’m Puerto Rican, Black, and White.”

“Oh cool. When did you first come to the United States?”

“…I was born and raised in Michigan.”

“Oh. When did your parents come here?”

“…They were also born and raised in Michigan. Well, my dad was born in Indiana, but he was raised in Michigan. My mom was born and raised in Southfield, Michigan.”

“Oh. What about your grandparents?”

“…Also born and raised in Michigan, with some time in Indiana.” My mom’s biological father was from Puerto Rico who had sex with a lot of women, including my grandma, but they don’t need to know that information. It’s a strange story.

So, because of the colour of my skin, a lot of White people assume I’m from another country, which is simultaneously ignorant and racist. It’s racist because apparently you can’t be full-blooded American without being a White person born in this country and ignorant because many Hispanics and Blacks are born and raised in this country, and they have been for over 200 years now.

Emilia and I at our wedding.

Another common experience I get with ignorant racism is similar, which is when my wife and I are together. As you can see in the image to the left, we’re an interracial couple. When some White people see us, they assume I’m the foreigner who married an American, just because my wife is White.

But my wife is the foreigner. She’s Finnish and has only lived in the States for almost 6 years.

It’s racist in that apparently if you’re married to another race in America, if you’re coloured you must be foreign. It’s ignorant in that White people can be foreigners too (Finnish, Swedish, German, English, Polish, Russian, etc.).

As a side note: Look at how gorgeous my wife is! I am truly blessed.

2nd Infantry Division, South Korea

Lastly, and briefly, another common experience is when my dad and I are together. When they see us together, they immediately think I’m adopted, but he’s my biological father. Some Black people will make the same error, which brings me to their ignorant racism, although much shorter.

Much of the ignorant racism I experience from Black people today is cultural. What I find strange is that when Hispanics look at me, they think I’m just Hispanic; and when Blacks look at me, they think I’m just Black.

So, a lot of Black people will look at me and expect me to talk and dress Black. By “talk Black” I mean the common African American accent we hear today. (I have a Midwestern accent.) By “dress Black” I mean the brands they typically wear today, such as GUCCI and Prada. For many of these people, I’m not “Black enough” since I’m not just like them.

Edit: One other thing I forgot to mention regarding ignorant racism from White people when I originally posted this is, weirdly enough, at Concordia Seminary where I study. I have lost count of all the times White visitors to the seminary have told me how great an asset I’ll be to minority ministry because of the colour of my skin. According to them, Blacks and Hispanics will think it’s easier to talk to me just because we share the same skin colour.

I recognise that they’re coming from a place of good intentions, but like many good intentions, it’s coming from a place of ignorance. And it’s offensive. We coloured people don’t suddenly feel more comfortable talking to someone, let alone a minister of the Word, just because we have the same skin colour. I have never experienced this myself. My home pastor is White. All of my mentors who are pastors have been White. I felt comfortable talking to them about my faith, struggles, and other things because of the content of their character. The same is true of the Black men and women I look up to. Even more, all of my closest friends are White.

They also erroneously assume that I’m going into minority ministry just because I’m brown, but I have no interest in focusing on that ministry. The reason is because I did not grow up in a Black or Hispanic culture. I grew up in a largely White suburban area. The cultures I grew up in were band and video games. I’m a band geek and a gamer, two cultures that don’t care what colour your skin is (no wonder I highly identify with these cultures to this day). If God wants to place me in a ministry where I can proclaim the Gospel to minorities, then that is the Lord’s will and I will do my best to serve Him faithfully. But minority ministry is not on my cognisant radar just because I happen to be brown.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that we would live in an age where we do not judge each other based on the colour of our skin, but by the content of our character. Sadly, those days are gone, if they even arrived in the first place.

Liberal Racism

Liberals are the driving force behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Because of their Marxist and social justice dogma, I do not support the BLM organisation. What I support is the belief that Blacks are actual human beings created in God’s image, many of whom undergo unjust racial profiling. I do not support it under the platform of the Left. In the words of Rev. William M. Cwirla, “Black lives matter, because up until now they haven’t mattered enough” (source).

If you’ve been enjoying what I’ve been saying so far, this is probably where I’m going to lose a lot of you.

The Left only care about black lives mattering when it comes to White on Black violence. They are utterly silent on Black on Black violence. For example, in 2016 alone, the number of White on Black homicides (murder) was 243. The number of Black on Black homicides was 10.5 times higher at 2,570 homicides. (Source) And these numbers are only increasing on both sides, yet with Black on Black violence still remaining significantly higher.

Black on Black violence is a problem that needs to be addressed significantly more than police brutality/White on Black violence. While the latter is definitely a problem that needs discussion and resolution, even more than that we need to seek proper resolutions to Black on Black violence. So, despite what their platform says, liberals don’t care all that much about Black lives. They only care about our lives when it meets their political agenda.

Another thing that’s racist about liberals is their incessant need to give us the platform to “lift up our voices.” I’ll repeat what I posted to my Twitter:

I’ve never needed the help of a white person to “lift my voice.” The notion that white people need to help us black folk lift our voices insinuates we’re incapable of doing that ourselves without white interference, which is even more racist. That being said, the voice I am primarily concerned with [lifting up] is the voice of the Lord.

@writeousluthern

I understand their arguably good intentions, but their intentions are coming from a place of ignorance. Our voice was adequately heard through the peaceful protests of the Civil Rights Movement with hardly any help from White people, back in a time when there was systemic racism across police departments and education systems. We are in a much better place to make our voices be heard without your belligerent caws of virtue signaling. And rioting and destroying small businesses is not helping our voice be heard, but silencing it even further.

By suggesting that our Black voices cannot be heard without the assistance of some White people wearing vagina hats fits the definition of racism.

Another thing that relates to this is the liberal practice of being offended by things “on behalf” of Black people. Take Aunt Jemima, for example. According to White liberals, this is offensive because it’s a Black woman on a syrup bottle. I’ve used this syrup for years and have witnessed its being used in my own Black family. Nobody was offended! You can’t be offended on behalf of someone when they’re not offended in the first place. If it offended us, we would speak up about it and we are plenty capable of doing so without your help. In fact, Aunt Jemima’s great-grandson is enraged that her legacy is being erased. Erasing words, images, and history (e.g. the destruction of statues) is one small step toward a dystopian society.

Lastly, from White and Black liberals alike, you’re not truly Black unless you’re a Black Democrat. If you’re a Black conservative like myself, apparently you’re brainwashed. This is racist because as a Black person, apparently you’re not capable of thinking for yourself and deciding for yourself if you want to follow liberal or conservative principles. You’re only truly Black if you’re liberal.

White People are NOT Inherently Racist

As a man who’s studying to be a pastor, one thing that upsets me the most about recent liberal dogma is the supposed notion that all White people are racist and need to repent of their racism.

For example, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Black British actor David Oyelowo said White Americans need to repent of the “original sin” of “white privilege.” Others have echoed his sentiment in saying all White people need to repent of their inborn racism, despite the fact that not all White people are racist. If that were true, my dad would not have had three multiracial children with a biracial woman.

The reason why this upsets me as a future pastor is this: You cannot tell someone to repent of a sin they have not committed. That would be like telling me to repent of murder even though I’ve never taken a human life. Or telling me to repent of owning slaves even though I was never a Black slave owner (yes, they did exist). Or telling me to repent of infidelity even though I’ve never cheated on my wife.

Armed to the tooth in their self-righteousness, they grab the hammer of God’s Law and slam the backs of the heads of those who have not violated God’s justice.

Repentance & Loving Your Neighbour

On that note, if anything I shared today has helped you realise that you have been ignorantly racist in the past, then by all means, repent, trusting in the mercy of Jesus Christ who forgives you all your sins. But white privilege, whether it’s real or not, is not an “original sin” that needs repenting. White privilege is merely the unfortunate byproduct of a country gradually recovering from its long history of racism, a deep wound in our nation. The only original sin that needs repentance is that which is the natural alienation from God—the fallen state of the human will that is diametrically opposed to God.

In the meantime, read and reflect on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” Through the parable, Jesus responds that you are to be a neighbour to all who are around you, like the Samaritan. In Jesus’ day, the Jews were racist against the Samaritans. To the Jewish lawyer, Jesus illustrates the good Samaritan as the righteous man who helps his neighbour regardless of who that victim was. In the same way, you and I must be good neighbours to all who are around us, irrespective of their cultural and ethnic identity.

Because of the grace of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I have chosen not to be hateful and angry about my racist encounters, but loving and patient. To the liberals shouting in the name of social justice: Y’all need Jesus. “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:35). For a party that preaches “love wins,” all I’m seeing is hate and anger taking the form of human vengeance because you’re all afraid. Repent, therefore, of your hate and anger, and trust in the Lord.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:14-21

4 thoughts on “Beckett: My Experience with Racism

  1. Madonna Swisher June 26, 2020 — 15:01

    I am so glad that I read this article. For sure a real eye opener to me. Especially about how you have had to face racism from the black as well as the white. I have 3 grandchildren that have a white mother and black father. The white mother being my daughter. The oldest being a 15 year old granddaughter. She gets along beautifully with both races. We have a very good relationship and discuss everything. She has never said anything about being harassed because of her race. I am very thankful for that. I was very concerned about this when my daughter married her husband. Our schools here have so many races in them because we are a college town, which I feel helps as they don’t stand out as different. My white grandsons have more black friends than white at this time. I feel that being in sports has helped all these youngsters and very grateful they can be with and get along with all of Gods children.

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  2. I would be interested to hear your opinion on why so many inner cities are filled with blacks living in poverty. And why so many prisons have a huge percentage of blacks? And ‘why’ they are killing one another?
    Do you think it’s because of systemic racism or do you think there is something inherently wrong or weaker in the black race that somehow they just seem to land themselves in these places and/or are just more violent?
    Or do you think that there is no systemic racism now so they should be able to pull themselves up and out of their oppressed situation and ‘catch up’ so to speak?
    I hope I am making my larger point here understandable. What put them there, and why are we just leaving them there expecting them to rise up out of it without even a bootstrap to pull themselves up with? Or do you think the handouts (for lack of a better word) are their bootstraps? Or do you think the handouts helped to keep them down? Or maybe forcing companies to hire blacks was their ticket. I do not believe so. All bandaids, that fall off. They don’t stick, they don’t work. And to add insult to injury, they are then blamed for ‘still’ being in their situation.

    So, again, my larger point to you and pretty much everyone, do you think there is some innate problem with blacks (inner city poverty blacks) that they just can’t make it work out for themselves or is their still an oppressive racism that keeps them there generation after generation?
    Thank you and respectfully,
    Becky

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    1. Thank you for your comment and question. From my perspective, and having grown up in and around Detroit, the way I see it is that it’s a failure of the Black community rather than some cabal of systemic racism. We are failing our own community. Many Black children within the inner cities are either don’t have their father present or in the case where their father is still present, he is not a good father figure. These boys are not being raised to be good men who contribute to society. The fact of the matter is, no matter how good of a mother you are, mothers do not know how to fully raise their boys to be men. Only men can do that, and without a father or at least a man who is a good father figure, these boys remain boys and don’t grow up learning how to positively contribute to society. So, they turn to their only other option: crime, typically through gang activity. We don’t raise our Black children within inner cities to value education and not only that, but the education systems within many large cities are extremely broken. I’ve experienced that firsthand in Detroit. My education there was so bad that when we had moved to Pennsylvania, everything the kids in Pennsylvania were learning were a year ahead of everything I had learnt in Detroit, so I had to be held back in the 1st grade. From what I’ve seen, this is not the result of systemic racism. We brought ourselves here through our acceptance of mediocrity, lethargy, and apathy as well as our country’s overall, insidious destruction and deconstruction of the family, especially the role of the father. So yes, I do not believe systemic racism exists, at least not against Blacks. As a Black/Puerto Rican man who has a large endowment for seminary for being Black, I cannot help but wonder where all this supposed systemic racism and white privilege are. If anything, there’s Black privilege because not only do we receive scholarships and endowments just for being Black (i.e. Affirmative Action), we can also get away with racist remarks and actions toward White people with little to no consequences.

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      1. Thank you for your response.
        I understand that you are saying the inner city poverty and crime falls completely onto the black community that has lived there for generations with little to no opportunity for generations. That they have not tried hard enough to get up out of the generations of racism that actually do play a big part of where their communities have been located.
        Again, you are saying there is something lacking in black people for being in this environment.
        Okay. I am dumbfounded.
        Again, thank you for replying.
        Becky

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