By Lloyd Streeter
Recently, a liberal college professor challenged my views about how I believe that police officers should be treated with respect. People of all races need to learn, how to respond when they are approached by the police. That is, they need to learn to obey all orders to not resist, and to be respectful. The conversation with the professor evolved into a more general discussion of my view about being color-blind about race. I believe that being color-blind, or race-blind, is the most moral way for all of us to behave. It is the way children in our family were taught to be by my mother. Color-blind is also the way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught all Americans to be; that is, to judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. That, to Dr. King, was the “Promised Land,” the place that he prayed for his children to reach even though he did not expect to reach it during his life-time. But most modern liberals have rejected Dr. King’s color-blind vision. These liberals are not in favor of race-neutral behaviors and policies. They want race-based laws and race-conscious behaviors on the part of all Americans. Racial color-blindness once held a secure position in law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 codified the color-blind consensus of the American people. But the race industry and the race hustlers have been leading the American people away from this race-neutral consensus. This has been going on for about fifty years. The change came with a hyper-emphasis on the concept of affirmative action. Liberals have rejected Dr. King’s dream, a dream that is now an embarrassment and millstone to liberal race activists. They want special treatment. They want positive discrimination in favor of one race or another. All races have been oppressed at some time in history. Ancestral discrimination and mistreatment cannot be the basis of special treatment in America today without discrimination against all other races. The only sensible answer, the only moral answer, is to treat individuals as individuals, not as members of a race. In other words, people should be treated as people, not as a race. People should be treated as individual persons created in God’s image, persons whose character should determine the amount of respect and dignity to which he, or she, is entitled. Here are some of the comments which I made to the college professor.
“There is some police brutality against all races in America. But no one approves of it, and there is far, far more brutality of law breakers of all races against innocent people. We need police to protect us from law breakers. Police are overwhelmingly not bad people. Police also need to be protected, and at a lower cost (it is becoming very expensive to protect our police), from brutal people of all races.
“You are right that dark skinned people are not overwhelmingly bad people compared to light skinned people. And neither are light skinned people overwhelmingly bad people compared to dark skinned people. We should be color-blind and judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. I believe more people are doing that today than ever before, even though Obama has made race relations much worse during the last 8 years. There is very little targeting of people because of the color of their skin, either by police departments where the personnel are mostly Black or in departments where most of the personnel are mostly White. The same is true in Hispanic departments. Most people who have to deal with the police do so because someone in their neighborhood called the police about a problem or a crime that was being committed. We have in Lake City, where I live, a Black woman police chief, and I am proud of her because she does an excellent job. Also, about half of our police department is Black. There is very, very little systemic or tolerated police brutality, organized or unorganized, in America. That was a problem of 60 years ago, in the days of my youth; but except for a few isolated incidents, it is not a problem today. There are those who want to manufacture it as a problem for political reasons, but not everything is about race, and nothing should be. There is a great need for people to just love others and pay no attention to their race. That is what Jesus would have us to do.
“I know that some people think that it is wrong to try to be color-blind to race. I respectfully disagree. For me it would not be right to try to give one person a benefit over another person on the basis of skin color, race, or ethnicity. For me that would be wrong, racist, and sinful. By color blind or race blind, I do not mean that I do not ‘see the race of others,’ as you put it. I see the race and ethnicity of other people and appreciate many aspects of their culture. By color blind I mean that I do not discriminate, either for or against people, on the basis of their race, skin color, or national origin.
“When liberals say that we should not be color blind, and that ‘it only makes things worse,’ they usually mean that we should discriminate in a positive way. In other words, that we should give a benefit of some kind on the basis of race, and that this should be done because of past negative discrimination. I see several things that are wrong in this scheme. First, it is almost impossible to discriminate positively in favor of one person on the basis of race without discriminating negatively against at least one other person. Without being overly extensive in my explanation, I offer this example: I have some rental property (incidentally, all of my renters are presently Black or Hispanic people), and when I am taking applications from prospective renters I may have an applicant who is Native American, one who is Black, one who is Asian, one who is Irish, and one who is a Jew. We could look at their family histories and see that in every case these races and nationalities were discriminated against. Native Americans had their land stolen and they were sent down a Trail of Tears, to a reservation. Blacks were often trapped and put in slavery, denied their civil rights, abused and mistreated by law. Asians were pushed to the margins of society, and had the atomic bomb dropped on them. Irish people were oppressed by the English, starved in the Potato Famine, and often captured by the English and sold into slavery. Jews have been dispossessed of their homeland, hated, hounded, driven into all the world, and slaughtered by the millions. Now, I am saying that I should not decide among them on the basis of color or race in selecting a renter for my house. Why? Because to do so is to discriminate against all of the others, and that is racist. So, I decide about renters on the basis of good business decisions, not race i.e., credit reports, police reports, rental history, etc.
“Second, the laws of our country require, for the most part, that all races be treated with equality. I think that those are good laws. If we give a person a benefit over others in housing, in education, or in job opportunities (taking into account possible mistreatment of his ancestors in race history, or any other excuse) we are not treating people equally before the law. That is wrong.
“Third, I must be color-blind as much as possible because I am convinced that that is how God wants me to be. Jesus is color blind. He died for the entire world, without exception. He saves any and all, irrespective of race or color, when they come to Him and trust in Him. He told us to love our neighbor. He went through Samaria and saved one of another race to show us that we should be color-blind, like He is. The song we learned in Sunday school is true: ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black, and White, They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the children of the world.’
“We agree that there is still a residue of racism in America. We agree that great progress has been made. We agree that racism is evil. But we disagree about how to combat the evil. I think that real genuine conversion to Christ which produces a change in the heart is the answer, and that does not take generations to accomplish.
“Too many people have not been color-blind in the last 50 years (sort of like soap, if it is not used it is not going to work). They want to make everything about race, either by saying that race should determine special treatment or that another race is the source of most of our problems. This is racist and poisonous to good race relations.
“When we focus on one race’s problems we tend to discriminate in a negative way against the other races. For example, you mention that ‘Blacks still have to work harder to acquire jobs, homes, and an education,’ (something that would not be true if society was more color-blind). But while you are focused on those problems you are not saying, ‘Native Americans still have to work harder…’ or ‘Jews still have to work harder…’ etc. So, you are accentuating the problems of one race while ignoring the problems of another race, or to be more precise, you are accentuating the problems of one INDIVIDUAL while ignoring the fact that other INDIVIDUALS also have problems, maybe even greater problems than the one you are trying to help. This is what happens when we treat people as members of a race instead of treating them as individual people. No, I believe we should treat all people equally, without any attention to race, with neither preferential treatment nor unfair treatment.
“As for how I would address any problems of racism, I have already told you that the answer is to know God personally through faith in His Son, Jesus. God changes hearts when people are converted to Christ through the miracle of God’s grace. The problem is within man, and his heart needs to be changed. That is why I have spent the last 50 years preaching the gospel, and I have seen many people changed, not about racism only, but about a lot of things. It is the key to seeing people begin to love others and to accept people as persons for whom Christ died, and that means to love people irrespective of race, and whether they are rich or poor, young or old, male or female, fat or skinny, smart or dumb.
“Finally, you asked if I would be opposed to putting more money into teaching police how to deescalate situations. I would not be opposed to spending more tax dollars to educate people about how to respond when they are approached by a cop. And I would not be opposed to increasing police training where it is needed to help police of all races to be more color-blind in dealing with the public.”