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  • Butch Bryant

3rd Quadrant Racism

Updated: May 30, 2019

The vertical axis is the way that people view themselves on the issue of race. This can represent an individual or a group. The horizontal axis describes how the actions, policies, etc. of those people work out on the issue of race.

Quadrant 1: Someone who is racist and behaves that way. Typically, when one thinks of racism or a racist, this is what or who they are thinking about. For example, supporters of Jim Crow segregation laws (past) and Neo-Nazis (present) fall into this category.

Quadrant 2: Someone who is racist but behaves in a non-racist way. President Lyndon Johnson did much politically for African Americans, but he was a racist. His purpose was pragmatic, getting votes and the outcome was egalitarian. With African-American unemployment at an all time low (2019), some would argue our current President falls into this category.

Quadrant 3: Someone who is egalitarian but behaves in a racist way. I first began thinking in these terms while reading, Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. This is an expose of the Dr. Kermit Gosnell murder case and trial. Dr. Gosnell was an abortionist in Philadelphia with a practice in one of the impoverished neighborhoods of Philly. Dr. Gosnell, himself an African American, kept an atrocious clinic. It was filthy and horribly unsanitary. A cat there lived in his clinic with an overloaded litter box and cat feces throughout. Dried blood and other fluids stained the waiting room furniture—the list goes on.

Dr. Gosnell was investigated multiple times by the State of Pennsylvania; two of those times because women had died during their procedures. Nothing was ever done. The investigators made the decision not to take any actions against Dr. Gosnell. The government investigators avoided bringing bad press to the abortion industry in PA because they were pro-choice. These government officials made the determination that protecting Roe V Wade was more important than the health and well-being of the poor women who used Dr. Gosnell’s clinic. The idea, pro-choice, was more important than the people. These people are mostly poor woman of color. If these investigators were interviewed, they would express liberal political views; pro-choice being one of them. They would also see themselves as egalitarian and would undoubtedly vote for progressive candidates. But in this instance, they had to choose between two liberal ideas: pro-choice and racial equality. Their choice was unconsciously racist.

Quadrant 4: Someone who is egalitarian and acts like it. This is how we typically see someone who believes in equality between the races.

Quadrant 3 racism is what we see in the contemporary church. For those in predominantly White churches and in the larger predominantly White Evangelical subculture, we do not have to be conscious of race and often act insensitively toward our African American brothers and sisters--not because we are racist but because we lack awareness. It also exemplifies the failure of political solutions for the problem of racial inequality. This problem is a spiritual problem that works out in society in political and economic ways. Our answer is to build the church by overcoming our racial differences. Can I say, “John 17 again!” How could the church help the women who used Dr. Gosnell’s clinic and the many like it? If you are Black, how can you convey your insights and experiences to your white brothers and sisters? If you are White, how can you be more sensitive to racial issues?

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