Later, upon reflection of this interaction, I thought to myself, "There I went and did it again. I came off as a racist. Why did it matter that my neighbor is from Guadalajara?" I really like my neighbor. He 's been nothing but friendly and he brings over items from the bakery and his wife makes us the BEST quesadillas. My hispanic neighbor came from California before he brought his family to Indiana and built a home next to mine. I then thought about the number of people who have asked me if my neighbor was here legally. Honestly, that thought never crossed my mind. My neighbors on the other side are from California too but are a white mother and daughter. No one has ever asked me if they were here legally, I have no idea where they lived before California.
I recall I went to lunch with a couple of white men that were a little bit older than me. One of them made a disparaging comment about the race of our current president (POTUS). I didn't laugh. The other one said with a sly grin, "Oh, you didn't get the joke. You will get it later when you get home." I replied, "Yes I got the joke, I just didn't think it was funny."
In thinking of these two interactions, I have come to a couple of observations that sicken me:
1) White men seem to have this way of talking that is elitist. We make comments toward each other that subtly (and not so subtly) put down other races and/or women. However, we do it in such a way that among respectable Christian men it is not considered racist/sexist (if you're a white guy). I'm sure that if a person who wasn't white was observing, s/he would notice the elitism.
2) If you're a white man and you don't appreciate these subtle comments, you are considered to not be as intelligent as the person making these subtle comments. These white guys just can't imagine that you just don't appreciate their elitist comments. They just think that you haven't had enough bad experiences from "those people" to accurately determine that whites are better. However, they would never come out say that they are better than others.
These two observations aren't new to me, I didn't have an epiphany as I was writing this blog. However, to my regret, I did realize that I contribute to the sin of elitism/racism/sexism. By being blind to my white maleness, I inadvertently contribute to subtle white, male put downs of others. Sue (2004) points this out in his excellent article: "Whiteness and Ethnocentric Monoculturalism: Making the Invisible Visible" (see American Psychologist, Nov 2004, pp 761-769). He states, that white men are "trapped in a EuroAmerican worldview that only allows them to see the world from one perspective...little doubt exists that skin color in this society exposes people to different experiences (p. 762)."
Sue's last statement that skin color causes different experiences just makes me feel really, really, awful at an internal level. God's Word makes it clear that elitism/sexism/racism is a sin. Galatians 3:28 points out that we are all ONE in Jesus Christ. James 2 makes it clear that favoritism is sinful. King Solomon warns us in Proverbs 6:12-13 that a man who winks with his eyes and signals with his feet is a "worthless person, a wicked man." I believe that this section of God's Word is talking about those subtle things that people do to create an "us vs them" mentality.
I long for the day when we will be released from the sin of elitism/racism/sexism. Unfortunately, I don't think that is going to happen this side of heaven. However, I'm grateful for times like this when God's Word and God's Holy Spirit speaks to me about my blind elitism. I don't want to treat people any other way than the way that Jesus treated people.
Now that you have come to the end of this blog post, I ask you for two things: 1) pray that I will be become more like Jesus, and 2) pray that you will become more like Jesus.
*My understanding is that hispanic is a political term. I prefer the term latino/a but I use hispanic in this post because that is the term my neighbor used.