By Victor Ochieng
Racism in America is a disease that has robbed many people of opportunities and has even resulted in uncountable loss of lives. Many leaders, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations have made efforts to root out racism from within the American society to no avail.
A lot more needs to be done, and different people have their opinions on how best to go about it.
During the 2016 Global Leadership Summit, Bishop T.D. Jakes held a discussion with Bill Hybels on systemic racism and the criminal justice system, which has been widely criticized as a corrupt, racist, and biased system that only works against minorities, more so against African Americans.
Hybels started by asking Jakes about his view on why not so much is being achieved in spite of spirited efforts to fight racism. In fact, Hybels even stated that the situation has even become worse in some cases.
In response, Jakes gave the example of pain, which alerts us whenever something is wrong with some part of the body. Because of pain, we know of a problem and then work to solve it. In fact, without pain, many people would just fall dead without ever knowing their bodies have issues.
According to Jakes, the main reason why some people, especially those in authority, don’t give much attention to systemic racism is because they don’t feel the pain victims face. It’s so difficult understanding another person’s problem if you haven’t experienced a similar situation. Because many leaders don’t live in poor neighborhoods and don’t face the real pangs or systemic racism, they think victims are either crybabies or just jokers.
Jakes made an unusual statement, saying systemic racism isn’t about whether a group is white, Black or brown. Instead, he says “It is whether you have included them [everyone] in the strategy for success.” Jakes said people drawn from all races face some level of systemic racism, poor whites included.
But Jakes says now the society can’t keep quiet anymore. The cry of the victims has become so loud that it’s affecting everybody else.
And on the criminal justice system, Jakes said there might not be a clear case of racism. He says both Republican and Democratic leaders promise tough action on crime. When Blacks and whites commit a crime, Blacks are more likely to end up serving a sentence. While some people might say this is because of skin color, Jakes says it’s more because of the economic background of the suspects. In most cases, because of their poor financial backgrounds, Black people can’t afford to pay expensive attorneys.
The only viable solution, Jakes says, is for the American leadership, and in fact the whole world, to genuinely work to fight hunger, poverty, and diseases. These are factors which if properly handled, will create better interracial friendships.
Jakes’ word: We’ve got to “come out of denial and come out of our comfort zones.”