In some of my talks on culture and diversity I am sometimes asked the question: “Can black people be racist?” I have come to learn that this question is loaded and also based on a narrow definition of racism as simply about “superiority”. Racial superiority is a weakness of Western Culture. In fact, in my book, Freed by God but Imprisoned by Culture I refer to Western Culture as a culture of superiority. The reasons are obvious — it imposes its ideas around civilisation, pedagogy, etc. as standards everyone should aspire for.
I will come back to this later. For now let us talk about racism as a “demonically-inspired doctrine.” This view is held by some black Christians I have engaged with. It implies two things: that racism is a spiritual aberration — not dissimilar to idolatry or occultism, and also that racism is a condition of the heart. In other words, material privilege does not — by itself — give rise to the idea of racial hierarchy. In 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul warns that in the last days some believers will turn to doctrines of demons.
This “turning away” is preceded by a departure from the faith. I want to suggest, therefore, that the current resurgence of racial animosity is an indication that we are in the perilous days foreseen by Paul. I want to further add that blacks — as well as whites — are now eating freely from the forbidden tree of hatred. And similar to Adam and Eve, both groups have now mastered the art of rationalising their abhorrent behaviour.
Now let me answer the question of blacks and racism. As a group, blacks lack material conditions that are necessary to sustain the idea of racial superiority. They just don’t have the means to feel superior. But blacks — as with whites — are not just a group but individuals within a group. They do not operate as a homogenous group. Amongst them there are divergent spiritual and political views. So as individuals, blacks can have racial antipathy. Former President Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
I want to suggest that many young black people are now being taught to hate. In institutions of higher learning some sit in echo chambers where they are only exposed to one narrative. It’s a narrative built on revisionism. For instance, the “woke” generation is prone to vilify Mandela as a “sell out.” What does this all mean concerning racism from whites? Well, I can tell you that many whites are still blind to racism. For instance, many attend multiracial congregations that are neither multicultural nor inclusive.
Let me end by sounding a warning. I believe that SAs blacks and whites are in trouble. Not as a result of land possession or dispossession. But as a result of being, fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons — 1 Timothy 4:1 CEV. These teachings — which ferment anger and hatred — are simply using material conditions as proxy but they originate from a diabolic source. In the garden called South Africa, there is now a hissing serpent seeking to supplant God’s Word. And its ultimate aim is to dethrone the Almighty from our lives.