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A Kinder, Gentler Racism?

Irami Osei-Frimpong is a racist. But don’t worry. He means well.

Osei-Frimpong is a teaching assistant at the University of Georgia.

The 40-year-old doctoral student recently posted the following comment online.

Some white people may have to die for black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom. … [To suggest otherwise is] ahistorical and dangerously naive.

He’s also responsible for these words.

Fighting white people is a skill… You have to get used to fighting White people. It takes practice.

“Blacks kill Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites.”

Dr. Bobby Wright

At first, the University of Georgia declined to take any actions against their employee, stating that the views were his personal opinion and posted on private platforms. Now that Osei-Frimpong’s words have gone viral, the school is exploring its legal options.

My first memory of racism is from my childhood. I heard a guy say that blacks wouldn’t go to heaven because they are a cursed race. I’ve heard a lot more racist words since then. I’ve heard whites ridicule blacks for everything from their appearance to their culture. I’ve even heard people sing the praises of the KKK, as if those evil monsters were noble heroes from a bygone era.

Behind each of those statements there was a belief. The person saying them believed that they weren’t hateful. They we’re sincere. They, “meant well.”

What those folks failed to realize is that no amount of sincerity or well-meaning can correct the evil of racism. Even the devil is sincere.

That’s a lesson that Irami Osei-Frimpong and others like him would do well to learn. There is a movement in our country today of people who are so in love with the idea of justice and equality that they’re willing to hate and incite violence to get it. For them, the only logical answer to racism is a different kind of racism–a kinder, gentler racism.

As foolish as this seems, it shouldn’t surprise us. As our culture has moved further away from God and the idea of human dignity rooted in being created in Gods’ image, it has embraced a form of justice that has more to do with feelings and vengeance than love and equality.

Today, under the banner of Progressivism, I hear people saying basically the same things I heard the old school racists saying when I was a kid. The only difference is that the roles of victor and oppressor have changed. The words are still the same.

“Don’t let white people move in here.”

“White people need to die.”

“Fight the white people.”

Take out the word white and replace it with black or brown and you have the same thing the hooded devils were saying from behind their sheets a generation ago. If only the two parties could see just how similar they are. Different times. Different ethnicities. Same devil orchestrating it all. You can repackage racism all you want but you’ll never be able to remove the stench of hell from it.

This new, allegedly kinder, gentler racism will only make things worse. How should we expect a Neo-Nazi to respond to a teachers assistant at a public university calling for violence against white people?

“Well, put up the swastikas, boys. It’s time to grow our hair back out and get on the straight and narrow. Irami Osei-Frimpong wants to kill us.”

Or, even worse, what about those who might have seen themselves as neutral or even indifferent on matters of race? Will hearing Osei-Frimpong’s rhetoric be what finally pushes them over to fully embrace true justice and equality? Not hardly.

Extremists like Irami Osei-Frimpong are recruiters. Their words fire up their base. But those same words also ignite an army of opposition. Osei-Frimpong’s venomous words do just as much harm to race relations as the hooded klansmen marching up and down the streets during my childhood in Clayton County, Georgia. They lead people to pick sides and both sides are wrong.

Times have changed. Racism manifests itself in different ways. I no longer see the klan picketing or holding rallies on courthouse steps. Don’t get me wrong. They’re still around. They’ve just traded in their white sheets for suits and tiki torches.

Yes, there are plenty of examples of bold, full-blown racism, some of which I’m not even aware.

But racism is also covert. It sometimes comes to us in the Trojan horse of justice and equality, just as in years past it came to us disguised as national pride and protection. The devil, it seems, never wears his name tag.

Irami Osei-Frimpong is wrong. He’s also confident. He says that if the University of Georgia fires him, “They’d be firing me for doing my job,” and “I don’t think it goes very well for them.” That should be a risk that school and state officials are more than willing to take.

But there is a trap here that Christians should be very careful to avoid. In response to this hateful, demonic speech, we might be tempted to counter with hateful, demonic speech that we find more palatable. We might want to pick a side, based on our upbringing or ethnicity. This truly would not end well.

We must remember that the color of our skin, while important, is not the source of our identity. All human beings, regardless of ethnicity, are created in God’s image. And the body of Christ is made up, not strictly of white southerners or non-white Progressives but of people from every tribe, language, and tongue who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

We should recognize racism, regardless of how it comes packaged to us, for what it is–pure evil. We should not let the extremists guide us to one side or the other. Rather, Christians should carry out their mission of loving God and neighbor. The world doesn’t need a kinder, gentler racism. The world needs love.

But it’s hard to love your neighbor while you’re hiding behind a sheet or behind the veneer or Progressive academia.

Both extremes are deadly.

Both extremes are tearing us apart.

Only in Jesus Christ can we enjoy freedom from whatever hatreds our hearts harbor and the strength to love even the most vile extremists.


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