Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

Is America Filled with Systemic Racism?


By Dennis Pollock

One of the charges by some black leaders following the murder of George Floyd is that America is saturated with systemic racism,” and that nothing but a violent, aggressive and totally comprehensive upheaval and uprooting of the very fabric of American government and society can change this. I disagree. Until recently “systemic racism” has not been a common term. People used to talk about racism or racists but now it has become fashionable to talk about systemic racism.

Systemic comes from the root word system” and it refers to a sort of built-in, pre-packaged racism that infests every area of society: our local, state, and federal government, our large corporations, our schools, and our police departments, and has its icy cold, deleterious fingers in every aspect of the American experience. In short, systemic racism means that blacks experience less wealth, fewer opportunities, fewer privileges, and harsher treatment by the police because America is riddled with racism imposed by the whites.

This was once true. From the days of slavery through the mid 1960 s blacks were held back in all kinds of ways due to racists laws, racist policies, and racist white people. But those days are long gone. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, a host of lesser civil rights warriors, and the gracious providence of God, laws were both enacted and enforced which demanded that blacks receive the same privileges and opportunities as whites.

We Shall or We Have?

Larry Elder, a conservative black political commentator and author, told of being at a meeting in one of the election seasons in the 1980 s in which Jesse Jackson was running for president. One of the black janitors who worked at the facility asked him one night, Mr. Elder, do you think our boy, Jesse Jackson, has a chance at winning the presidency?” Larry paused for a moment. He expected the man was wanting him to say that, yes, he believed Jackson might win, and that he (Elder) was enthusiastically waiting for that day. But Elder was not a fan of Jesse Jackson. He tried to frame his answer as diplomatically as possible, and replied, Well, I don t really think he is qualified.” The janitor surprised Larry by agreeing, and said, I feel the same way. He s always talking about We shall overcome, and we done overcome!”

And the janitor was right. By the 1980 s the government had essentially done about everything it was possible to do through laws to root out racism from its policies, businesses, and government. By then it was illegal to refuse to employ someone, house someone, or refuse anyone business because of the color of their skin. Segregation was outlawed and integration was the law of the land. Blacks could eat at the same restaurants as whites, live in the same neighborhoods as whites, and attend the same schools as whites. In the mid-sixties a succession of Civil Rights laws were quickly passed by Congress and signed by President Johnson which ensured an equal footing for all, under the law. It didn’t always work out in practice in those early days, but the laws existed and as the years rolled by these laws were enforced in greater and greater measure.

They put an end to legal racism, racism by policy and decree, racism sanctioned by law. Black children began attending schools that had formerly been all white. Restaurants and other businesses started hiring blacks, and those who refused were fined, and if they still did not change, they were put out of business. Gone were the voter fees” and literacy tests” which had been created to suppress black voters.

Racism Today

It would be stupid to suggest that this ended all racism in America. Of course it did not. People who were racists before Lyndon Johnson were usually still racists after Johnson. But if they were involved in business or real estate or government or the police departments, they could no longer be open racists. And gradually more and more Americans accepted these new policies, and began not only to obey them, but to actually recognize that they were reasonable and good. America gradually became a kinder and gentler nation, in the area of race relations.

There were two problems left over after the Civil Rights Movement brought legal equality for all races. First, although the blacks could no longer be openly denied the privileges that whites had, they still were far poorer than whites. Apart from black athletes and singers, most black families made a fraction of the money that whites did. Huge numbers of blacks lived in poor neighborhoods where gangs roamed and bullets flew. And second, America still had its share of racists. Racial slurs and racist incidents still took place, although these have significantly diminished in the years since then. Black leaders saw these things as evidence that America was still racist to the core, and that racism, systemic racism” was as much a problem now as in the Jim Crow days. Entrenched American racism was holding them back, and until they could pry the hands of the white man off their necks, they would never prosper. A further issue was the fact that black young men were sent to prison in disproportionate numbers. While blacks make up about 13 percent of America, black males make up around 34 percent of the men in prison.

No thinking man or woman can deny that racism still exists in America. But is it systemic?” Does racism truly permeate every strata of our society? Does it rear its ugly head in every governmental agency, every corporation, every school system, every police department, every neighborhood, every church, every association, every city council? Is America steeped in racism, riddled with race-mongers, saturated with racists in every city, every town, and every village from California to New York, from Michigan to Texas? No thinking person could really believe this. For one thing our nation is filled with black political leaders, black mayors, and black congressmen at state and federal levels.

Is America Safe for Blacks?

When George Floyd was killed, people were suggesting that it was hardly safe for blacks to walk on the road or drive their cars down the streets. Surely policemen were killing unarmed blacks every single day. It might seem that way, but any objective look at the statistics will reveal what a total fabrication this is. In 2019 there were not thousands of unarmed blacks killed by police in America, there were not hundreds, nor were there dozens. There were eight or nine, depending on whom you read. And there were 25 unarmed whites killed by the police in that year. According to those statistics, if an unarmed black man or woman goes out for a walk or for a drive in their car, they are around five times more likely to be struck by lightning as to be killed by a policeman.

While even one incident of a wrongful killing by a policeman is a tragedy, and should be thoroughly investigated and the policeman brought to justice, it is a huge stretch to convert nine killings in a year into a charge of systemic racism rampant throughout the entire nation. It is true that the black numbers are disproportionate to their population, but the sad truth is that black crime is also disproportionate to their population. Around 53 percent of all murders in America and 60 percent of all robberies are committed by young black males, who would represent, at most, about 6 or 7 percent of the U. S. population. And most of these murders are blacks killing blacks.

The problem of the inordinate number of blacks who live in poverty and in poor, gang-infested neighborhoods is real. Some have interpreted this to be the result of racism. But there is little evidence of this. What is far more likely the cause is the startling statistic that over 70 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. And most of them grow up in homes without the direction, discipline, encouragement, and counsel of a father. This is a huge problem. Former president Barak Obama stated: We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison,” Of course many white children experience father-less homes as well, but for the whites it is the exception but for blacks this is the rule. It happens more often than not. Black males need to follow Beyonce s admonition to put a ring on it.”

We (Nearly) All Agree

So, no, I do not believe America is riddled with racism, from top to bottom, from coast to coast, in every agency, organization, and hamlet. On the contrary, it has become uncool in America to be racist. There is very little agreement between the political left and the right. They disagree on government spending, on abortion, on gay marriage, on the role of the Supreme Court, and almost every other issue. But the one issue on which they both agree is racism. Conservatives and liberals, evangelicals and atheists, Republicans and Democrats, moviemakers, actors, and the press all recognize and declare that racism is evil and despicable. Major public figures have lost their jobs, not because they made a blatantly racist comment, but because they said something that perhaps could be construed as having a slightly racist tint.

Anyone who can suggest that the racial situation is as bad as ever in the U. S. is living in a fantasy world. For every wrongful police killing of a black man, there are millions of black men and women who get up in the morning every day, eat a nice breakfast, go to work, come home at night, spend time with their families, and repeat the cycle the next day with no police interactions at all, day after day and year after year. Additionally, blacks and whites are marrying each other every day at a rate never seen before in America, with virtually no social repercussions.

The two remaining problems: leftover” white racism and the disintegration of black families both have the same answer and that answer is Jesus Christ. I am convinced that no man or woman can be full of Christ and full of racism simultaneously. Where Christ fills the heart, racism must pack its bags and leave. Similarly, the black males who hang out on the streets and refuse to marry the women they impregnate need more than a good talking-to. One black conservative thinker nailed the major problem in the black community, stating that the top five problems were: Number five: a lack of fathers in the homes, Number four: a lack of fathers in the homes,” and Numbers three, two, and one: a lack of fathers in the homes.” He suggested that these young black males who produce babies outside of marriage need to marry their girlfriends, raise their children, and live responsibly.” In a sense he was right, but he was also totally unrealistic. For the young men who grew up on the streets with no fathers, listening to never-ending coarse rap music, being influenced by gang leaders, and having no positive male role-models, to simply tell them to live responsibly” is like hurling a teaspoon of water at a raging forest fire. These men need more than a lecture – they need Jesus!

After the Civil War, the chains of slavery were removed from the African Americans. With the Civil Rights Movement, the chains of racist laws and policies were brought down. And today the chains of unequal opportunities are collapsing. But what we must all recognize, black and white, is that the greatest, strongest and the worst chains of all are the chains of sin that tie the hands and hearts of all Americans, black and white. And these are chains that no government can break, no laws can fix, no protests can address. The Bible tells us that we are all, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic, under the chains of sin, which hold us back at every turn, spew ugly racist thoughts into our minds, demand sex but refuse marriage, spoil our relationships, destroy our happiness, limit our potential for usefulness, and ensure that we must go to a dark place of torment after we die. And the only remedy for these chains is Jesus, the One who tells us, If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” He declares: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51). This Bread” (Jesus) is freely available to all races and all people. And in Christ we are all equal, and we are all brothers and sisters in God’s great, big, diverse family.



For a full listing of all articles, written and audio, go to our Audio Devos Page.



        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!



Just for you!

Missions Outreach

A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring video clips and pics from our recent mission in Nigeria in Oct/Nov, 2019.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.