A Race to Define Racism

March 22, 2019

Last night was one of the most intriguing evenings I have ever experienced.  A few weeks ago a friend, Jim, and fellow golfing buddy asked me to attend a dinner at his house on March 18th.  Not that big of a deal as I have dined at his house on occasion over the last few years and always enjoyed the interesting groups of people that Jim put together. However, it was quite obvious that this dinner was going to be different than past dinners.

In Jim’s email invitation he wrote:

“…This  casual men’s dinner  is Monday, March 18th.  The theme is Black/White Friendships – my friend (and co-host for the evening) Wayne  will be inviting eight black friends and I will be inviting eight white friends.  Thus we will have 18 men here for meaningful conversation and mutual encouragement – difficult topics dealt with constructively, positively, and prayerfully – more emphasis on the future than on the past….” 

I was intrigued and RSVP’d within seconds of receiving the email.   

I arrived at Jim’s house last night around the same time as the other guests and my thoughts quickly focused on what the result of the night might be – would we talk around the issues or would we seek to understand before seeking to be understood.  After brief small talk we all sat around the long oval table that is located in this separate structure on the property.  Like any good Texas meal, we enjoyed BBQ with all the trimmings as Jim suggested we go around the table and introduce ourselves and tell a little bit about who we were.  As this went on, I was so encouraged to see men of character, each and every one, explain who they were and what they hoped to get out of the evening. It reminded me of the same thing I felt when I first entered the Texas House and went and sat down and met one on one with all other 149 members of the Texas House, which was that we were all just people who had daily lives, struggles, families, goals, no matter the color of our skin.  No one has life totally figured out this side of heaven and last night’s dinner confirmed that once again.

After introductions Jim’s co-host, Wayne, started the conversation about the division of racism and the historical embeddedness in America’s history.  As other attendees spoke up and voiced their opinion, some very passionate and some very analytical, one comment stood out among all the others and was voiced by one of the African Americans in attendance.  He said that African Americans feel angry about America’s racist history and white Americans feel guilty and the more guilty they feel the angrier African American’s feel.  One attendee boiled it down to the pattern in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters where the character of the devil, Screwtape, uses the thoughts of his nephew, Wormwood, against him to make him increasingly confused, angry and upset with the Lord and others. Many if not all of us at the dinner felt this is exactly what is happening with the discussion of race – two of our rawest emotions, anger and guilt are being manipulated and stoked in order to create more division as opposed to following the greatest commandment in the New Testament – “…..Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

In summary, I left there feeling good that there are men from both races that see the issue as a problem of the heart and not the pocketbook, or the state house or the court house and that to solve the issue we must learn to not only recite but act out Jesus’s words in Luke 10:27.  A good start for any relationship.