Am I a Racist?

Am I A Racist

Seek first to understand and then to be understood. –Stephen Covey


I grew up in Clovis. I went to the rodeo. I had mostly white friends. And then I found the world of athletics. Athletics thrust me into a multi-cultural environment.

When I hear someone say you’re the beneficiary of white privilege, to me it sounded like you were saying I had a silver spoon in my mouth, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It sounded to me like there was an assumption that everything I had had been given to me and by the way, you’re a racist.

And that bothered me. It bothered me for a lot of reasons. I worked my backside off for everything I got. I fought my way through school, my degree, on the football field. I was raised in a single parent home and it wasn’t easy. How could you say I benefited from white privilege?

So I dismissed it before I even really understood what they were saying. Then someone told me white privilege is not saying you’re a racist that’s had a silver spoon in your mouth. Whether I knew it or not I was a part of a system that was biased towards middle class white dudes. I don’t appreciate that or want that, but it’s not about me, it’s about a system that lends itself that way.

To be honest, I still didn’t quite understand it. Then I read an article about “What Riding My Bike Taught Me About White Privilege.” You know I’m a hobby junkie and one of my hobbies was riding. When you ride you know that you are riding in a world that is biased towards automobiles.  Our roads are designed to benefit automobiles. If you aren’t in a vehicle, people don’t even see you. It’s not that that driver is anti-bicycle, he just doesn’t even see you.

And you can’t win on a bike. People are mad at you if you’re on the sidewalk and they are mad when you’re on the road and that’s what I’m learning about white privilege. It doesn’t mean I’m racist, but it does mean there is an unintended bias towards middle class white people. The bias is changing and diminishing, but not fast enough.

Listen, I’m not a civil rights activist and I’m not the savior. I’m a white dude trying to understand the black narrative. From my lens I don’t see it. I don’t get it. It doesn’t mean I’m ignorant, it means I don’t understand, so I need to seek conversation to understand.

When these issues of discrimination and injustice are more than national headlines, when they are stories from your friends, the whole issue gets personalized. These are not simply racial constructs of a bygone era nor impersonal issues of those we have never met, rather these are stories of injustice from people in our community who matter deeply to God. They are right here—where we live, where we work, and where we play.

Unfortunately, injustice is a reality. This side of heaven we will always battle sin and it’s devastating affect. Though the Gospel unites us we must fight to understand one another and celebrate the diversity that God has created.

If we’re going to be serious about helping people connect to God and to each other in every neighborhood, then we need to learn more about our neighborhoods. God has given us an opportunity to provide leadership in our city and allow the gospel to influence how we interact in our community.  And that’s why Hope Fresno is so important to me.

Come with me on a journey, with a teachable spirit, in humility.  You might not agree with everything you hear, but you need to come and hear it all. I need to hear it all.

Will you put yourself in a situation where you can hear? Can you suspend judgment and put opinions aside and for just a moment, listen to what our African American friends can teach us?


Hope Fresno-Blog

Hope Fresno- in partnership with Faith in Community (FIC)



Brad Bell

Brad Bell

Founding pastor of The Well Community Church, international speaker, and author of Walking With A Limp.

  • Ivan Paz

    Great article and invitation, Brad. I’m glad you can share this. Some of us can say the samething as you but be misunderstood as the angry person of color. I’m glad you have chosen to use your privilege for God’s glory and the unity of people.

  • D Campbell

    It is funny. I heard the biking analogy, and it never made sense to me. As a bicyclist, I’ve always felt like the winner on the roads. The joggers are hurting, the car drivers are working. I’m exercizing and loving life. the premise of suffering by comparison of “economic” success, or physical safety is so shallow. If you find your calling, you won’t be whining. When the burden of homelessness is looked at from the economic point of view it is a failure. If the goal is freedom and survival, then the winners are different. In your conference, If the goal is serving Christ and seeing unity in the faith, then you might be on the right track. If the goal is to homogenize our existence to fit our culture, then we may loose the glorious diversity of physicality and blessings they give on Sunday’s play. Or the glory of singing God’s praise may be lost to economics of the “biz”. Many struggles are caused by discontent with God’s designs, and many are with the inherent inequalities of a sinful world. Wisdom discerns before it blames.

  • terry broussard

    Yes, this is good, and for me personally a time to listen. I emphathize with Brads comments and at times bristle when I hear about racism and injustice. Isn’t this about a culture of victimization and not letting go of the past? Sometimes maybe, but at the same time I maybe blind to the subtleties based upon the bike allegory and over generalizing about what minority cultures are really experiencing. Being charged by Jesus to be an aroma of grace in a sinful world demands that I would be sensitive and understanding in this area of racism.

  • Tanya Weston

    So glad you shared this. I’m late to the conversation, on many levels. Stephen Covey’s quote is such a conviction for me lately and seems to be the root of so much of my own prejudice, even within my family. In other words, not a “race” thing, but a prideful mentality that extends even in my own home. In that same vein, I’m reading a book right now by Jason Riley who writes for the Wall Street Journal. The title is “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” I’m not trying to be political, but trying to understand his view, as an African American conservative. I’m finding it quite amazing. I’d be interested in hearing some thoughts.

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