Racism is a collective sin more that it is an individual sin. Collective sins stain the soul of a society and go unconfessed because individuals most often view sin through an individual lens. Collective sin involves joining with the dominant culture to maintain the status quo by unjustly keeping those who are not a part of the dominant culture down. The sin takes on many forms, some clearly obvious and some subtle and subversive.
An example of this is white privilege. As a white male, I clearly have an advantage in American society and I believe most white Americans, if honest about the history of race in our country, will accept this as being true. However, when white Americans approach race individually and not collectively, we pronounce ourselves innocent of racial prejudice, never considering the collective sin of racism and our part in it.
I do not consider myself prejudice, but as a CPA in a predominantly white community I have to ask myself if I would hire a more qualified African American over a lessor qualified white person, knowing that some of my clients might refuse to be served by a person of color. By taking the opportunity away from the more qualified candidate, I am participating in the collective sin of perpetuating white privilege.
The prophets of the Old Testament called the dominant culture to repentance pointing out that God is first and foremost concerned about justice and mercy. Jesus’ sharpest attacks were against the religious leaders who were perpetuating the sinful dominant culture of the day. As white Americans we are culpable in keeping a knee on the neck of those who are outside of the dominant culture and we must repent. The path to repentance begins with listening and having honest conversations, which will lead to confession, which will lead to repentance.
Robert "Butch" Rogers