African-American (1 John 4:19-21)

“I will introduce you to him, he’s a great guy!”

“Looking forward to it!”

My colleague was raving about his newest associate who joined his pathology group. He was one of the leading experts in the pathology of the kidney, prostate and the urological system. He recently left academia and entered private practice. I had read many of his papers and was duly impressed with his erudite discussions and astute observations. I was excited to meet him in person. I decided to prepare myself and found his webpage. In his biography, he introduced himself as African-American, a world traveler, and a lover of good food and wine. Very cool, I thought, we should have a lot in common. A week later, I met him in person at a conference. He was standing next to my colleague who introduced me. With sandy brown hair and a light complexion, he was not the image I had of an African-American. I later learned he grew up in South Africa before emigrating to the United States to pursue his medical residency training. He was proud of his African heritage and wanted others to acknowledge and recognize this.

I like to think of myself as inclusive and unbiased but here was a glaring example of my own biases influencing and coloring my thoughts, leading me to false assumptions. I began to understand that it was a symptom of a deeper problem. Microaggression is a relatively new word that encapsulates some of the issues. It is defined as “commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups”. Source: www.wikipedia.com 

As I examine my own thoughts and speech patterns, I realize that I am definitely part of the problem. The Bible is replete with examples of how racial, cultural, and religious biases have influenced us. What is the solution?

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.

1 John 4:19-21 (CSB)

Love is more than words and actions, it needs to permeate our very soul, restructuring and realigning our thoughts. We cannot be content to make empty hollow statements declaring that we love others but fail to critically re-examine our thought lives. Prejudices and biases creep into our speech and influence our decisions. Even if unintentional, it is still wrong. We must actively pursue God and allow Him to transform and conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Only by bringing every thought and action to the Cross will we be able to free ourselves of microaggression and the trappings of societal and cultural biases.

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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