[15]   Human Rights (2): Racial Problem & Multiculturalism

STORY: A black Christian professor in Austin, Texas was listening to news about a police shooting. Apparently, a woman threatened by a man called the police. When the police arrived, they found the guy confronting them with something like a gun. The man was shot several times and killed. The object the man held was found to be a toy gun. The immediate reaction of this Christian was, “I hope that guy was not black.” He was afraid that if it was a black man, the police would be accused of racism and there might be racial strife like what happened in Los Angeles. Fortunately, that man was not black. What can you observe from the story?

When the University of Michigan admitted students, blacks and Hispanics (but not Asians) were automatically awarded 20 points (out of a maximum of 150 points where 100 is needed for admission). In comparison, a perfect SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test used in U.S. college entrance] score will only receive 12 points. The argument for such a practice was that the university wanted to ensure diversity in the student body. The university was sued and it went to the US Supreme Court which ruled in June 2003 that the university can use race and diversity to admit more minority students but that particular point scheme is not the proper way. What do you think?


·       In US, there are about 7,000 to 10,000 hate crimes recorded by the FBI each year. Two-thirds are hate crimes involving race or ethnic origin; the remaining involving religion or sexual orientation.

66.  What are the cause and effects of racial problems?

a.   Definition: Racism is the degradation of others on the basis of race. It is based on the belief that:

(1)  hereditary biology determines the differences between groups,

(2)  cultural differences are predetermined and immutable,

(3)  the distinguishing social and cultural features of the subordinate group are inferior.

b.   Present situation:

·         There are many different forms of racism in the world against many different racial groups.

·         Many dissatisfied ethnic minorities are seeking independence, e.g. Tamils in Sri Lanka, Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Tibetans in China. Many have succeeded, e.g. republics in the former Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia.

·         The following concentrates on racism in Canada and the US. In Canada, racism is mostly directed to black people and native Indians. In the US, racism is mostly directed to black people and Hispanic people.

·         Oriental people are of course a visible minority. All visible minorities are usually targets of racism so oriental people were targets in the past. However, because of the high achievement of oriental people in recent times (both immigrants and native born), racism against them is generally not serious.

c.   Types of racism:

(1)  Apartheid: in South Africa from 1950 to 1992. It is the most extreme form of racism with total residential segregation of whites from other races and total political control by whites. They even misinterpreted Bible verses to justify the practice (Ac 17:26, 1Ki 11:2).

(2)  Explicit racism: whites are regarded as superior to other races, through enforcing stereotypes, and practising segregation and open discrimination.

(3)  Hidden racism: racism assuming a more subtle form in recent times

o        structural and economic racism: difficulty in getting jobs or treated unfairly by the police

o        personal racism: lack of acceptance in intimate or semi-intimate situations, such as intermarriage or friendship or neighbour

d.   Cause and effects of racism:

·         Ethnocentrism is the perception that one’s own race is the norm and all outsiders are inferior. It has been predominant since early history, e.g. Chinese before the 20th century regarded all foreigners as inferior.

·         Racism was less widespread in ancient times because racial groups were less mixed. With the large amount of emigration in recent history, there is a greater mixture of races and subsequently racial awareness and racism increase.

·         Effects: prejudice against other races, discrimination in employment and daily contact, segregation in residential areas, hate crimes against other races (it should be noted, however, that most crimes are intraracial, between people of the same race)

e.   Modern racism by the white majority:

(1)  indeliberate segregation causing the formation of urban ghettos:

o        the phenomenon of “white flight”: Studies show that when a neighbourhood becomes 8% black, white residents leave that neighbourhood en masse and no new whites move in. The neighbourhood soon becomes all black. The result is inferior schools providing poor education to blacks. [In the past, the U.S. used busing (sending students of different races to other districts) to solve the problem but without clear benefits. Recently, the U.S. provided vouchers for black students to study in private schools.]

(2)  biased criminal justice system because of black stereotype of criminality:

o        unequal treatment by the police including racial profiling (more blacks are stopped for questioning and searches without any justification) and higher arrest rates and charge rates

o        more severe sentences handed down by the courts to blacks for the same crimes

o        However, the objective reality is that criminality is higher among blacks in US and Canada, and also recently among Haitians in Canada. In the U.S., blacks account for 12% of the population yet account for half of murder victims, though 95% involve blacks killed by blacks. The highest homicide rate is in the DC area where 85% of the population are black. In Canada, no such data are available because the government opposed collection of crime data by race but anecdotal evidence in Toronto shows a large number of homicides involve Haitians.

(3)  widespread poverty among blacks because of stereotypes of mental inferiority (though physically superior), laziness, and lack of responsibility:

o        employment opportunities more limited

o        There is a persistent black “underclass” while all immigrant groups gradually move up the economic scale of wealth (such as Irish, Italian, East Europeans, Chinese, Vietnamese consecutively in the past).

f.    Modern racism by the black minority: [this analysis done by a black academic]

(1)  Attitudes:

o        many blacks suffer from a lack of self-efficacy (the belief in the ability to turn things around): having a fatalistic attitude, not believing that their efforts in life will be rewarded, and unwilling to give their best effort at universities

o        cling to the status of victims: desire to gain power by emphasizing how much they are victims of oppression and discrimination by the white establishment which controls the society and prevents minorities from success

o        blacks who are able to succeed are ignored as possible role models, otherwise the victim myth will be disproved: black students who do well in schools are ridiculed (black kids regard excelling in academics as “acting white”); successful blacks are not regarded as blacks (e.g. Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice)

o        similar pattern but less serious among Hispanics (from Puerto Rico)

o        Destruction of the victim myth: Asian Americans have faced severe discrimination in the past but they succeeded with hard effort; their SAT scores are the highest among racial groups, followed in order by whites, Hispanics, and blacks.

(2)  Strategies:

o        use race as an excuse for own failures: committing crimes, producing kids that they are not ready or unable to raise [70% of blacks in US are born to single mother holdholds], failing to take advantage of educational opportunities offered, addicting to illegal drugs

o        use the charge of racism to malign the enemies: through stigmatization with a label (irrespective of whether there is real racism), blame white people (making whites feel guilty, playing the guilt game); such strategy is used especially by black leaders

o        use anger as a shield to hide and escape taking responsibility: some popular rap music encourages violence, hatred and mistrust, even the killing of cops (as an act of self-defense); the objective is to rouse blacks to take up arms and physically fight the race war; such ideology allows blacks to focus their anger and to feel empowered to fight against whites; encourage a mentality of not following the white people by developing black slangs and putting on black attire and adopting black customs and black names

o        use the history of slavery to portrait blacks as victims in order to gain power

(3)  Actions:

o        gain material redistribution and more societal power through social programs and race-based advantages in studies and work (such as job programs, minority scholarships), yet not reacting to whites’ efforts to help with enthusiasm or gratefulness as if those are their rights

o        seek large financial compensation to address past wrongs like slavery

o        some express their anger (of unable to obtain what they wanted) by massive riots and destruction of property when triggered by minor incidents such as perceived police brutality towards minorities (the case of Rodney King in Los Angeles, also in other cities like Cincinatti)

o        But such actions only deepen the racial problem. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” (Hos 8:7)

67.  How should Christians view racial problems?

a.   God’s desire is racial equality.

·         God is impartial (Dt 10:17; 1Pe 1:17) so man should also be impartial (Dt 1:16-17).

·         God does not show favouritism on the basis of race (Ac 10:34-35; Ro 2:10-11) and disapproves class distinctions (Eph 6:9). Christians should not discriminate (Jas 2:1-9). We should even be champions of the weak and the vulnerable (Am 5:11-15).

·         In the church, there should not be any ethnic differences (Jew or Gentile), economic differences (slave or free), gender differences (male or female). (Gal 3:28-29)

b.   Christians must not hold any racial prejudice.

·         People of all races are created in the image of God.

·         Even Jews, God’s chosen people, were forbidden to oppress non-Jews (Ex 22:21; 23:9).

·         All peoples should try to live in harmony with one another.

·         Racial prejudice and discrimination are learned attitudes, not born ones. Children easily learn to play together irrespective of race.

c.   Racism is socially unacceptable:

·         Victims of racism are denied human dignity, are humiliated, and are disadvantaged socially, politically, and economically. Imagine what we would feel if we are the victims.

·         The intensification of frustration among victims causes social disorder.

·         Racism is relative as there is no more pure races. For example, the average black American has 25% traceable white genes and the average white American has 5% traceable black genes.

68.  Should Christians support giving advantage to racial minorities in education and employment?

a.   Policies or programs to give advantage to racial minorities.

(1)  In education, some U.S. colleges and universities use a quota system to ensure a certain proportion of the incoming students are from ethnic minorities (blacks and Hispanics; Asians are not regarded as minorities). Others give bonus points for being an ethnic minority.

(2)  In employment, the policy of affirmative action has been used by the government and some private corporations for a long time. The policy specifies that minorities (sexual or ethnic) will have priority in being employed if the qualifications are the same.

b.   Objectives of such policies:

(1)  to compensate for historical wrongs such as slavery or discrimination (“historical justice”)

(2)  to give an advantage to disadvantaged minorities due to past “institutional discrimination” (to “level the playing field”)

(3)  to ensure ethnic diversity in academic or working environments or to make those institutions resemble more to the society

(4)  to train or employ people who understand ethnic minorities (example of police work to achieve greater racial harmony)

c.   Arguments against such policies:

(1)  It is an unfair system which encourages and permeates inferior performance.

(2)  The policies increase the chance of lawsuits.

(3)  The claim for minority ethnic status by children from mixed marriages is questionable.

(4)  The system causes reverse discrimination or reverse racism. Many rejected white students challenged the system in lawsuits claiming they were replaced by less qualified people. In fact, Asians are also being discriminated against because while they are ethnic minorities, they are not given the advantages simply because of their higher achievement in education.

d.   Conclusion:

·         Objective 4 (above) can improve the functioning of the organization and is a supportable objective.

·         Other objectives may be useful but policies based on those objectives should only be transitional and should be eventually phased out. The perpetuation of an unfair system is an abuse of goodwill.

·         Any advantages given to racial minorities should never be excessive.

69.  How should Christians view racial profiling in law enforcement?

a.   Definition: Racial profiling is the targetting of special racial groups for selective police searches and traffic stops. The targetted group was mostly black people in the past, and people of Middle Eastern descent and Muslims since September 11, 2001.

b.   The main justification for such action is the best use of limited police resources since those groups are more likely to have involvement in crime or terrorism. However, such demeaning actions against a specific racial group to save money is not justifiable. [Just imagine the racial group you belong is targetted.] So, as a rule, racial profiling is not acceptable.

c.   However, search and seizure policies and practices based on concrete evidence is not profiling. Therefore, if an escaped criminal is known to be of a certain ethnic group, targetted searches are reasonable.

d.   In rare occasions when serious consequence can result if prevention of crime is not successful (e.g. if intelligence indicates large scale terrorist activities are in progress but without information on race), then short term racial profiling is justifiable.

70.  What is multiculturalism? Should Christians support multiculturalism?

a.   Definition: Multiculturalism is the government policy in Canada to promote the retention of cultural identity of individual ethnic groups through government subsidy.

Multiculturalism Canada

“Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures. The Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding, and discourages ghettoization, hatred, discrimination and violence.”

Canada recognizes the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in its social, cultural, economic and political affairs.


b.   Objective: It represents a formal recognition that all cultures are worthy of retention so that new immigrants can feel proud about their own culture as well as accept other cultures. Such stated objective appears well-intentioned.

c.   Problems:

(1)  Value pluralism: The philosophical foundation of multiculturalism came out of the theme of diversity in political correctness. (Liberals admit themselves that it came out of liberalism.) The assumption that all cultures have the same value as the motto indicates: “Your culture is just as good as mine.” The extension of such philosophy is that one must not criticize the moral standard and religion of other cultures.

(2)  It actually creates or magnifies ethnic prejudice. Based on public opinion surveys, Toronto is the least tolerant city in Canada for accepting non-whites as immigrants.

d.   Conclusion: All cultures should be respected but moral standard must not be compromised by value pluralism. Cultural expressions by ethnic groups should be self-subsidized, not subsidized by the government (in order to avoid bias and rivalry among ethnic groups).