Are you burdened with the spirit of racism and cannot seem to shake it off? Do you wish to turn a new leaf and start a renewed life that is devoid of prejudiced feelings or racist actions? Are you are a member of the huge “club” of individuals who face the daily storms of racism in the workplace or elsewhere? Have you had enough of the negative spiritual, mental or physical abuse and torture by your experiences of racism? If you have, please come with me on this powerful trip of God’s Spiritual knowledge, guidance and empowerment. Let this book guide you on how to draw daily-renewed strength from God’s Holy Scripture and His amazing grace that will unshackle you forever from the invisible chains of racism.
"RAYS OF VICTORY, NAILING RACISM TO THE CROSS"
Copyright 2002 Jacyee Aniagolu-Johnson, PhD
Chapter One - 'Seeds of Prejudice and Racism'
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
Whether you are someone who fosters prejudice or racism against another person, or you are a target of racist practices, racism is not God’s design, will, purpose or destiny for your life. It is not God’s design for anyone of us or for any nation. Racism is fundamentally individual or collective actions of prejudice or discrimination based on race or ethnicity. It is a form of bias, bigotry or intolerance that rests primarily on deep-seated lack of love for fellow humanity. Racism is a wicked tool of the devil, the enemy to your soul and mine. It is designed by the foul spirit behind racism to terrorize you to submit to evil, physical, psychological or emotional intimidation; make you uncomfortable; give you a defeated, ineffective or weakened spirit, soul and body, all of which is contrary to God’s Holy Word and purpose for your life.
The good news however is that God has never and never will authorize racism which is a form of injustice and oppression, and on your behalf, Jesus Christ has defeated all forms of evil, including racism. Along with all the sins of humanity, Jesus Christ nailed to the Holy Cross of Calvary every form of oppression and injustice, and racism is not an exception. Therefore, racial prejudice and discrimination does not have any legal authority in your life; and you must never allow it to have either temporary or permanent habitation within you. It is a foul, obnoxious spirit that must be expelled from within every one of us, regardless of our race, ethnicity or nationality. Know this! Believe it! And always act based on this true knowledge!
A good number of us are likely to encounter racial prejudice and discrimination in one form or another during the course of our lifetime. Sadly, most of us are also likely to start receiving doses of racism from our childhood. While we may not have fully understood it at a young and tender age, the pain of our experiences may remain lodged in our hearts for a long time, and unfortunately in some cases, for our entire lifetime.
At this point in my life, I see my daily experiences of racism as a part of the trials and tribulations that our Savior Jesus Christ forewarned us that we would face in the world. However, in the midst of such adversities, He also asked us to be of “good cheer” [remain cheerful and happy]. In other words, we should not allow such troubles to overwhelm us because He [Christ Jesus] has overcome the world and all of its trials and tribulations [including racism] for us.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
How can this be? If this is so, why is racism continuing to torture so many people in the world? The truth is that Christ has indeed cancelled racism and all of its ramifications (Romans 8:1-11; Colossians 2:11-14); that is for us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord, Savior and Redeemer. Still for us believers whom Christ has overcome the world and its evils, the manifestation of this legitimate status in our lives is not automatic. We must first exercise our inherent faith to believe in God’s Word, and then apply the Word of God in our daily lives by the revelation knowledge of the power of His Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. As we apply our own faith and belief in God, we will witness the manifestation of His glory in our lives through Jesus Christ (John 11:40) who has given us legitimate power over any form of evil or adversity, including racism. In other words, through Jesus Christ God has given us full authority over evil like racism.
“And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:18-19
As we face daily challenges like racism, we have to consciously and actively believe in the power of God’s Word against it and apply God’s Word in our daily lives. How? We must verbally declare God’s Word against the obnoxious ‘spirit of racism’. As God’s Word abides within us and saturates our entire being, our inherent measure of faith (Romans 12:3) grows and become fine focused against covert [hidden] or overt [blatant] forms of evil, including racism. Such faith will rightly claim our legal status in Christ who has on our behalf overcome all adversities including racism. Only then can we too become more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) of the trials like racism that we may face in our daily lives.
In order for us to resist any negative effects of racism on our mind, we must constantly guard our heart with the power and truth of God’s Word. This means that we must guard against being either a spiritual or mental “victim” of racism, or becoming a human instrument for fostering it against others. For whatever we allow to be sown in our hearts, will become the source that eventually fuels our mind, thoughts, emotions, will, beliefs and actions. Do not allow thoughts of racial prejudice or any other form of prejudice to take residence within your heart. Reject them! Rebuke them! Refuse to give them room to lay their ugly heads, if not your thoughts, will, emotions, words, actions or behavior may soon be patterned after them just as designed for you by the spirit of racism.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
If you allow racial prejudice to reside in your heart, you can become a vehicle through which racist actions are perpetrated against others. Likewise, if you allow yourself to be overtaken by your experiences of racism and their negative effects, you can be transformed into a spiritually and mentally defeated person. You do not wish to be this person, rather you ought to be a person that can and will have the faith in God’s Word to claim their legal status of “overcomer” (John 16:33) of racism in Christ. You ought to be transformed into God’s human vessel through which His conquering power in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37) can manifest to positively touch the lives of others.
The elements of racism include prejudice, ethnocentrism, stereotyping and discrimination. A person is racially prejudiced if they have conscious or unconscious pre-conceived negative beliefs, pre-judgment or opinions about another individual based on their race. For an individual to become a target of racism he or she must encounter someone who has a spirit of racism and who expresses that spirit; that spirit is then directed against that other individual. A prejudiced individual usually has an irrational opinion of superiority of their culture and this can manifest as negative attitudes or actions towards an individual or a racial group as a whole. This manifestation especially when backed by individual or societal power is what is referred to as racism.
The belief of cultural or racial superiority (advantage, arrogance, dominance, pre-eminence, power, control, upper hand, authority, supremacy or ascendancy) is called ethnocentrism, and ethnocentric individuals interpret the world’s culture only from their perspective of presumed superiority of their own race and culture. Such individuals have been indoctrinated to have the illogical belief in the intrinsic supremacy of their own race and they show blinded loyalty to their race and culture, which they view as the norm and standard. To them every other race and culture is somewhat inferior to theirs.
A prejudiced individual with personal beliefs of superiority rationalizes in their mind their groundless stereotyping of an individual or group of another race. Stereotyping is the belief that an individual or all individuals of a specific race act or will act in the same manner, or have inferior abilities and intelligence because of pre-determined and pre-assigned beliefs about that group of people. Such stereotyping or set beliefs become the basis for pre-judging and discriminating against such individuals. With position, power and authority, a prejudiced individual can express negative and destructive race-biased (racist) behavior towards the targeted individuals of a specific race.
The collective prejudiced and expressed beliefs of individuals of usually the dominant group leads to an organized set of beliefs that is backed by their societal power. Such beliefs are fueled into the institutional structures of the society like the work environment (e.g., career growth and development opportunities and promotion at work), judicial system, employment, educational system, health care, housing and so on. Today, institutionalized racism has become the basis for daily support and sustenance of the practices of discriminatory actions of individuals.
Therefore, racism is any action, deliberate or unintentional that has the effect of negatively affecting another individual that is being pre-judged based on generalized beliefs about their race. It is an organized set of actions, subtle or overt that foster and maintain false beliefs by the dominant group about their own intrinsic superiority and innate inferiority of another racial group.
Racist beliefs transform into daily practices, which deny basic equality and other things and excludes people based on their race. Racism promotes the idea of in-borne superiority of one race over another, and when built into the institutional power structure of the society, it provides the sustained basis for oppression [unjust or abusive use of authority and power] and possibly exclusion [leaving or keeping out] of individuals or a racial group as a whole.
The practice of institutionalized racism can lead to invisible divisions within the society of so-called mainstream “majority”, and then the minority group. The mainstream group often refers to the people that make up the majority or those who control the bulk of the resources and power structure within the society. The minority group may not always be the smallest group but are usually the group that has the least power or access to resources within the society and are often the exploited, disadvantaged, excluded, oppressed and unfairly treated on a routine basis.
In this book, I will not be using the terms majority or minority groups, rather I have defined groups as “preferred” or “non-preferred”. A “preferred group” will be any group of people of any race who at some point in a specific micro or macro environment control the power structure, wealth and resources, and use their power to oppress others who they see as being racially or ethnically different from them. A “non-preferred group” will be any group of people of any race who at some point in a specific micro or macro environment are being oppressed or exploited by individuals of the “preferred group”. In some cases, the oppression or exploitation may be occurring at the individual level in which case an individual of a “preferred group” in the power seat is oppressing or treating unjustly an individual of a “non-preferred” group.
Institutional racism maintains a power structure where the assumed “superior” position of the dominant or “preferred “groups or individuals may be sustained over the pre-defined and pre-determined “inferior” position of the “non-preferred” groups or individuals, and this is achieved by creating invisible racial barriers. A racial barrier could be created by an attitude or behavior, institutionalized processes or physical means, and is designed to exclude an individual regardless of their entitlement, qualification and productivity. For anything to become “institutionalized”, it has to be a part of the day-to-day activities, tradition or belief system of the society. An institutionalized process becomes part of the culture of the society — racism has become part of the cultural fabric of many environments and societies in general.
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and that racial differences produce inherent superiority of a particular race, hence the practice of racial prejudice or discrimination. The four main elements of racism are essentially: Prejudice; Ethnocentrism; Stereotyping; and Discrimination.
The pattern of interactions that occurs between individuals is usually the stage where racial prejudice is expressed as racist beliefs in the form of negative and destructive actions. I believe there are basically two forms of interpersonal racism: what I call “red-neck racism” and “polite racism”. Redneck racism is overt racism that is personalized and directed in the form of direct verbal or physical abuse, threat or intimidation against individuals that have been labeled as being “inferior” or “non-preferred”.
Polite racism on the other hand is practiced in a rather covert or subtle manner, where racist intent is hidden or masked, but still manifest in very negative actions. These actions are usually highly destructive to the recipient, and could even eventually lead to ill health of that individual. Polite racism is a form of racism that is too cryptic to be quickly and definitively determined as illegal or targeted by the existing anti-racism state laws. Cryptic [hidden, obscure, secret] actions of subtle racism create psychologically hostile environments that terrorize [terrify, frighten, scare, threaten, intimidate] and bully the spirit and mind of the targeted individual into negative submission to, or control by, the oppressing powers.
The seeds of racial prejudice may be planted within the hearts of any individual of any race as early as their childhood. In the same manner, by deliberate or accidental targeting, willfully or by ignorance, others may also become recipients of racism. To whichever group you belong, you either become a fertile soil for the seeds of racism to germinate and spread to others, or you begin to see yourself as oppressed by it and declare yourself a victim. For some, a possible effect of early and continuous exposure to racism is illusionary escape from the psychological and emotional pain of its effects. Such individuals may decide to consciously or subconsciously suspend themselves in a state of blissful denial of the blatant reality of overt or subtle racism. Often, they seem suspended in a cloud of psychological illusions and make statements like, “I have never experienced racism, seen anyone who has been discriminated against or witnessed anyone suffer as a result of it. It is one’s negative mind that projects situations to them as racist.” It is hard still to see how an individual of a “non-preferred” race in any society where racism exists and is dominant can go through life and not experience either subtle or overt racism. However, perhaps those who make such statements have indeed not personally experienced racism or known anyone who has. They should count themselves extremely lucky because they happen to be part of a small group of individuals. For them I suppose that if the seeds of racism and its manifestations do not exist, then the evil spiritual forces that are behind racism “the spirit of racism” do not exist as well.
For those who have at some point experienced racism and may continue to encounter it on a consistent basis, it has been the norm for many of us to see racism purely as a physical phenomenon in our natural world. We see it simply as the negative actions of one individual against another. It never quite occurs to us that racism is beyond human activities and is a manifestation of negative influences from spiritual dimensions.
Negative activities that originate from the spiritual realm never cease. Racism is one of such activities and continues to be an unceasing force that manifest in our physical realm through some individuals against others. For some, the idea that racism is a physical manifestation of evil spiritual activities from unseen dimensions, “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12) through willing human hosts that exist in our natural realm may be a new and perturbing concept, and that they may choose to be open to, ignore or shut their minds entirely to. Recognizing the capability that evil influences can have in our lives dates back to biblical history (Ephesians 6:11-18). Such influences often manifest as minor or major adversities in our lives (Psalm 34:19; Acts 14:22).
With the knowledge of the many afflictions and trials that we must continue to face in the world due to spiritual wickedness in unseen dimensions, Apostle Peter wrote a letter of encouragement to Christian believers who lived in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Province of Asia and Bithynia located north of the Mediterranean Sea, and who were being persecuted under the Emperor Nero. He emphasized the importance of fruitful growth of their faith and its empowering spiritual strength that is deeply rooted in the power of God through Jesus Christ. He reminded them that the as a test of their faith they (and we) must endure, persevere, and overcome the “fire”, that is the adversities that they faced (and like we face today). Peter told them that the firmness of their faith must in the end reflect praise, honor and glory of Christ Jesus even in the face of such trials.
“...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7
We glean from this Scripture that as we face the fiery darts of racism, our relationship with God that is rooted in our Christ-like faith must not change¾and we too must not change for the worse, but must reflect praise, honor and glory of Christ in us. Through the firmness of our relationship with God through Christ Jesus, we ultimately gain spiritual, mental and material victory over adversities like racism. Racism is a form of fiery dart that tests the quality and value of our faith, and our Christ-like character (2 Corinthians 13:5). When we walk closely with Christ Jesus as we face trials, God will always reveal and manifest Himself through such adversities and we will come out victorious. In such situations, it is our activated faith in God’s Word and His response to such faith that helps us to overcome our experiences of any injustice and oppression.
Later, in the same letter written by the Apostle Peter, he warned the Christians that he was addressing to remain “sober” [clear-minded and calm] and “vigilant” [watchful, guarded and attentive] because the “adversary the devil” is on the loose, prowling and seeking those that he can “devour” [swallow, gobble or consume]. He asked them (and us now) to make sure to resist [oppose, refuse to accept, defy and stand firm against] the devil and remain “steadfast” [loyal, unwavering, firm or unchanging] in their faith in God. Peter also addressed them (and we too today) at the individual level, by encouraging us not to feel alone in their (and our) sufferings, which so many others are also experiencing.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Bringing Peter’s words in the context of your daily experiences of racism, it is a daily menace in the lives of millions of others known or unknown to you and I. It is a negative spiritual weapon that originates from unseen dimensions, and daily, it ultimately manifests against us in our physical world. It is everywhere seeking to devour our spirits, minds, determination, self-will, self-esteem, self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence, dreams, hopes and aspirations. Racism may come against you and I like a brutal, wicked, undermining, overwhelming and unrelenting force, but we must remain steadfast in our faith that God’s power within us is greater than the spirit of racism (1 John 4:4). The power of God within us is greater than any evil [including racism] that may exist around us. Racism is a form of injustice, oppression, wickedness and unfairness that did not overcome Jesus Christ, rather He overcame it on behalf of you and I. Knowing this we must always resist racial prejudice (or racism) within our hearts and minds fully empowered with the truth of God’s Word.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who us in the world.” 1 John 4:4
It is also important that you do not take lightly that racism is an evil force that has been orchestrated against individual humanity by no other than our “adversary” (foe, opponent or enemy to our soul), the devil. The human individual who is perpetuating racism against you is only being used as an instrument of the devil himself. So you must remain sober and vigilant with God’s Word against the “spirit of racism” or it will devour your own spirit, mind and body through the activities of another person. You must take a firm spiritual stand against racism and be strong in your godly faith against it knowing that because racism is wrong and contrary to God’s Word; it is also against God Himself. If you are a target of overt or covert forms of racism, know that God is on your side (Romans 8:31) and will NEVER allow you to be overtaken by such evil.
God does not ignore any form of oppression (Deuteronomy 26:6-9; Psalm 10:4, 12:14, 140:12; Isaiah 25:4); as such He would not ignore any form of racism that is being directed at you. As you experience racism, seek God’s divine strategy in His holy Word and He will deliver you from those who may seem too strong for you in your physical environment. He is a God of fairness, equity and justice, and He will not allow racism to consume you (Exodus 23:22). God delivered ancient Israelites from the brutal and harsh treatment of their oppressors in ancient Egypt (Exodus 14:13-14) and He will do the same for you today because He is a God that does not change (Malachi 3:6), a God of yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God will surely redeem your life from any form of oppression or violence, and racism is not an exception.
“And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey...” Exodus 3:7-8
“He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; and precious shall be their blood in His sight.” Psalm 72:14
Do you feel outnumbered and overpowered by “Egyptians” (oppressors, or wicked, unjust ‘masters’) in your work place or elsewhere? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the injustices and cruelty of those “Egyptians” and wonder where God is? As an individual, sometimes as you experience racism you may feel isolated in your daily battles, but you must know that you are not the only person that is facing daily challenges with racism (1 Peter 5:9), and that God is ALWAYS with you (Joshua 1:6-7, 9) though you may not always feel His presence. Millions of people all over the world are dealing with one form of injustice or another, and racism is a scourge that has been around for many centuries. So, be encouraged by the words of the Apostle Peter that after you have suffered for a while, through God’s divine favor He will “perfect” (restore), “establish” (support you and root out the attacks against you), “strengthen” and “settle” you (have you well rooted in Him to triumph over repressive practices such as racism).
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
Be reminded that even as you are being oppressed [treated cruelly or unjustly] and persecuted [wronged, wrongly accuses, ill-treated, offended], that by your own faith in Christ Jesus, God our Father has already chosen you (Ephesians 1:4; John 15:16; 1 Peter 2:9-10). God has cleansed and made you holy through Christ (Colossians 3:12; Romans 11:6, 3:24, 5:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2), and through Him you have gained access to His grace and divine favor (2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 4:16) and His peace (Philippians 4:7). By God’s divine favor, you can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13), and this means that ultimately you can and will overcome any oppression and persecution that you may face. You should never forget whom you are in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), and that the awesome power of God that works through Christ for you (2 Corinthians 2:14; Luke 9:1; Psalm 91:13) can and will always raise you above any form of evil, including racism.
“...To those who have obtained precious faith with us by the righteousness of God and Savior Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter:1-4)
Let Us Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making me aware that I have spiritual and mental shackles from my experiences of racism. Thank you Lord God for revealing to me all areas that I am shackled and for giving me total release and freedom from the intrigues of the spirit of racism. Dear glorious Father, by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I accept a renewed spirit and a Christ-like mind that is free of any form of oppression. Dear gracious Father, by your enabling grace, I know that I can and I am able to gain victory over any form of racial oppression or injustice. Thank you magnificent Father for your rays of victory. Thank you for your limitless and boundless power within me, through Jesus Christ, Amen.