Pastor Mark Scott's Blog
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October 1, 2015, 12:00 AM

What About Racism?

This weekend, we will begin the first of seven messages aimed at attempting to better understand what the Bible says about some of the more controversial subjects taking place in American culture. This first message which we will examine on Sunday puts the focus on racism. On one hand, it seems amazing to me that in more than 250 years as a nation, we don't seem to have resolved the issue of not liking, or perhaps, even hating someone because of their skin color, their ethnicity, their native language or their socio-economic background. Furthermore, we all know someone who is racist or have witnessed someone expressing racism, but I am guessing that most of us would never describe ourselves as being racist.

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However, most of us have either inherited or carried over from past experiences some elements of racism whether we like it or not. For example, I grew up in a wonderfully, loving home and no one in my family would have ever believed that we demonstrated any traces of racism in what we said or did. However, as a child or teenager, I never really knew anyone that was black and in fact, I never attended school where any other student wasn't white until I was in the tenth grade.  Donnie Moore came to my high school when we were both sophomores. If his name sounds familiar, its because he is the same guy who would later pitch in the major leagues, more importantly, he was the 9th inning reliever for the Angels in the mid 1980's. Unfortunately, he is also the same guy who gave up the most painful home run in Angels baseball history, a left field shot to Dave Henderson of the Boston Red Sox on October 23, 1986 that cost the Angels the opportunity to go to the World Series that year. Sadly, Donnie would never get over that terrible loss and three years later would turn a gun on himself and take his life after first shooting his wife. Fortunately, she survived, but Donny was gone at the age of 32. 

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But, 19 years before that, Donnie and I were both 10th graders and assigned to the same science class at Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas. It was a school of about 1,800 students and that year, Donnie became the first African-American student to attend our high school. He was not only the first - he was also the ONLY student on the entire campus that wasn't either white or Latino. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for him - but, the baseball coach had brought Donny over to attend our high school for one reason - and that was because he was a better high school baseball player than anyone else within at least three hundred miles.  And sometimes, that all it takes to break a paradigm like the one I grew up in that assumed everything was better if the different races were kept apart from one another.

In my world, black people were called, "colored", people. It wasn't meant to sound harsh but for some reason in those days, we felt we had to distinguish people by their skin color. Latino people were often referred to as "Meskins" and in West Texas, they suffered a harsher kind of racism than many black people did. To most of us back then, they all seemed the same. We saw them as poor, uneducated, and not capable of any tasks other than those that required a strong back and firm hands. People spoke of them with disdain, dismissing them as "wetbacks". Forty years later, I realize more than ever that we don't get to choose the time and the place where we are born and grow up. This was my world and while it wasnt anything like growing up in Mississippi or some other place in the deep south, it was the only world that I knew and racism was much more alive than any of us would ever want to admit. 

When I was in the 8th grade, I came home from school one day with a friend by the name of Ralph Cuellar. He was a smart kid but even more, I thought he was a really funny kid. A few days later, we went to the South Plains Fair together, which was the biggest event that happened every year in our part of the world. Kids went for the amusement park rides and adults went for the exhibits and the food. That evening when it was time to go home, my parents picked us up at the fairgrounds and we drove Ralph and his little brother to their modest house and dropped them off. Then, we went to our home in a newer part of town and went to bed. The next afternoon, my dad talked to me and said that he thought that while Ralph seemed like a really nice young man, from now I on, I needed to make friends with people like myself. In other words, people that weren't Mexican.

I don't remember being mad about it - more, I was just surprised. Looking back, I think that perhaps my parents, like most parents, were afraid that if I continued on being friends with people like Ralph I might never make the kinds of friends that all parents dream of their kids having.  Friends who come from respectable homes and who have standards and ideals like those we are trying to instill in our own children. And, it goes without saying, that included friends with the same color of skin, I do not consider my parents to have ever been racists - far from it. But still...truthfully, in a way we were -  we just didnt know it. It was simply how things were in the 1960's in the corner of the world from which i came. 

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It obviously a new day today - we have come a long ways from back then, but most of us would agree we still have a long ways to go. And, tensions about race are heighthened whenever it seems that the police takes matter farther than they should and a life is taken. And, for some reason, it seems that the color of the skin of many of those people are often black. And whenever that happens, it reopens the old wounds of suspected racism.

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Interestingly enough, there isn't a more volatile subject confronting the American people today than the one of immigration. It is my opinion that it will be the most defining issue of the 2016 Presidential election. And, it also has the potential to be a trigger of a new wave of racism in America - and most of it will likely be directed towards Muslims.

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People have expressed to me a lot of mixed emotions about Muslims - most of it reflects what happened on 9-11 and all that transpired since in the war on terror, including the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Somewhere, being a Christian has to make a difference in how we feel, how we act, and how we respond to how our world is changing. There is only one remedy for this - and it is the abiding love of Jesus in our hearts and a love that is lived out for all people. This Sunday morning, we are going to talk about what fear and uncertainty can do to us - and how those thoughts can lead into racism. I will stop for now...and perhaps, come back and follow up on this in this blog sometime after Sunday morning.

For what its worth, just in case you don't know, the Bible gives us a pretty strong hint to what is going to happen with the matters of race, different languages, unique styles of dress, and the verigated cultures when we finally get to heaven. And, I have a feeling, it is going to surprise some of us what God has in store.smiley

Pastor Mark Scott teaches about New Race in Christ Jesus

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10-29-2015 at 12:13 PM
Kim Norwood
Good stuff, Mark. It brought back a lot of similar memories from my own days in west Texas.
10-04-2015 at 6:29 AM
Mark - great article. Looking forward to hearing your sermon today!
10-02-2015 at 12:00 PM
Jeremy A. Walker
Good word! No matter how subtle racism may be, it builds walls between people. A gospel of inclusion through the blood of Jesus will overcome exclusions based on any other factor.
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