Thinking About Jesus and Racism

I’m doing an additional reflection on my teaching on Matthew 15, where it seems that we catch Jesus out in making a racist slur, and then he changes his mind. I wonder.

Jesus defended the rights of a lot of different groups: women, gentiles, the handicapped, lepers, people from Galilee, and more. But he failed when it comes to Canaanites. I am tempted to say that he was a hypocrite, although I think he just skirted past it, recognizing the correct stance in a moment.

I realize that I try to defend the rights of a lot of people, and so do my friends. Muslims, homeless, African Americans, immigrants, LGBTQ, etc. But me and my friends often fail in some instances. For instance, drug users are still looked down on by a lot of us, even though the studies show that addiction is usually the result of trauma. And so are some people who are sexually attracted to children, but do not act on that attraction. Some people I know are so afraid of it that they do not want to call it an orientation or agree that these folks haven’t acted on it.

And I have to admit, it is hard sometimes to look at some of these other groups and say, “Yeah, you have it as bad as homeless people,” because let’s face it, being homeless makes everything worse. And you can say that you have it hard as a woman, but as hard as a homeless person.

Of course, the answer to that mindset is, who has it worse, a homeless man or a homeless woman? (Answer: 95 percent of all homeless women are assaulted, 80 percent of homeless men). Who has it worse, a white poor person or a black poor person (answer: African Americans have a higher percentage of people on the street than the percentage of white poor people).

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the oppression we see that we forget there is oppression we don’t see. We may not see Palestinians, but they are being oppressed in what little land they have. We may not know any Native Americans, but NA women are being raped and go missing higher than any other population in North America. There is so much oppression that it is hard to keep up with it all.

What times we live in. What a planet we live on. God have mercy on us all. Give us eyes to see.

Steve Kimes