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This Label Shuts Down Honest Talk

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“A person can disagree with President Obama’s policies, or be afraid, or be troubled by our open borders, or question Sharia law, or think “maybe Trump.” These days a person can be white, going about their business. The name flies up: racist.

That racist label shuts down honest talk. When people are silenced, their thoughts fester and rankle, turning to rage. They find presidential candidates who “tell it like it is” refreshing. They vote their anger.

When someone called me a racist, I sobbed. When my boss arranged for a meeting to address micro-aggressions as a response, my heart hurt so bad I almost called 911. And then I said, “Fine. You think I’m a racist. Then I’m a racist.”

In some ways, we’re all wired to beware of the Other, with a flight-or-fight instinct that saved the ancients. But I step back horrified. I refuse this name. I choose to offer hospitality to people who trouble me.

I think about the famous Jesus saying. “Don’t take the splinter from another’s eye if you’ve got a log in yours.” If I see racism in someone else, then maybe, just maybe I might want to examine my own racist tendencies—those quick thoughts that repel me from the Other.

And another thing: We tend to find what we’re looking for. If we look for racists, we’ll find them. If we look for good people, we’ll find them as well.

I’m Katie Andraski, and that’s my perspective.

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