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A Frustrated White Guy’s Thoughts of Netflix’s “13th” Documentary

Let’s get some context out of the way—I’m a white guy from rural Kentucky. I’m from a somewhat racist place, but I hate racism. I hated racism long before I became a Christian, but once I realized the Bible was true, I finally realized just how absurd it actually is. That said, I’m not perfect. I’ve said racist things, laughed at racist jokes, and not called out racist behavior of those around me when I should have. Forgive me, but when Vois asked me to write this I knew that transparency was key.

I generally don’t like conversations about racism due to the blanket statements made about entire people groups. Is white privilege a real thing? Absolutely. But I know white people who have never seen an ounce of it. That being said, I’m sure it’s real for most of us, and I’m sure I’ve seen some benefits myself.

13th-netflix-600x889The very terms “white” and “black” bother me. I’ve never met a person whose skin is actually white or actually black. We’re all different shades of brown who descended from the same two people which is why I believe God probably views racism as our stupidest mistake of all time. Nevertheless, the ol’ cunning serpent named Satan has done a masterful job at setting up these social constructs, and after watching Neflix’s “13th” documentary I see that he’s done a much more amazing job at it than I could have imagined.

Slavery and Jim Crow were both obvious racism, but Satan’s end game was the veiled covert version still alive and thriving. I would ask which is worse, but it doesn’t really matter—they’re all horrendous. Like myself, most people will know a lot of the information before watching the documentary, but the power of the presentation is in seeing how it is all connected. They walk you through the chronological evolution of racism. Their only focus was this country’s history of it, but let’s be honest, we can trace it back to the theory of evolution and beyond. It would seem that it has been a problem since the fall of man, and will be until Christ returns. I want to believe that isn’t true. I want to pray faithfully that it could end before that, but I’d be lying if I denied my doubts. And that’s why it’s so freaking frustrating.

It is such a long-standing societal issue that it’s like we can’t even collectively figure out a solution. What do we do? Get rid of private prisons? I’m sure that helps, but I’m unsure that it will fix it. President Nixon’s aide admitted that the war on drugs was driven by the desire to lock up hippies and black people. So do we decriminalize drugs? I honestly have no idea if that’s a good idea or not. Doing drugs is a bad thing and it’s a bad thing for society. You can’t blame Satan for your sin, even if the consequences are unfair. But I can’t let that stop me from engaging in the conversation about the unfair consequences.

This might upset some, and I reserve the right to be wrong; but I wish Barack Obama wasn’t known as the first black president. Would it not be greater to champion and cheer for the first racially mixed president? Can you imagine for a moment if he would have spoken about racism from that perspective? I believe it would have been powerful! Doesn’t a mixed person have the beautiful privilege of having to see racism from God’s perspective? Sometimes I imagine that the only solution is it disappearing when all humans are mixed—the possibility of which is beyond my understanding.

A “white” person has to overcome the desire to ignore this conversation altogether just because white people somewhere around my age and below aren’t guilty of setting up systematic racism. If we claim to have a Biblical worldview, then we have to have compassion and empathy for the oppressed. We have to see this from God’s perspective, and my fear is that I know a lot of white people who are either completely oblivious or incredibly defensive deniers because they have a mountain of pride in between them and the truth. If you pass judgement toward the “other side” of this argument, and you’ve never had a genuine relationship with anyone over there, you’re a fool, and I mean that lovingly. Build relationships that will challenge you out of your comfort zone.

The church has to do better—both black and white. For God’s sake, why are we segregated? Because we like to worship differently? What sort of Americanized Christianese garbage is that? If you can’t worship next to someone who’s different than you, I suspect you actually aren’t worshipping anyone but yourself. We also have to remember and respect the power of God’s word. Any message we try to confront this problem with is useless if it doesn’t point back to our foundation of truth.

I feel myself getting preachy, so I’ll shut up now. I wrote these thoughts on the fly after praying for the Spirit’s leadership. Nevertheless I knew it was going to be a tough topic, and even at this moment I realize I may have said something wrong. If I did, please forgive me. I’m just a confused and frustrated person who can’t ignore the conversation.


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About Nathan Mathis

Nathan Mathis is affectionately known as Beardo, the bearded weirdo. He is a follower of Christ, a self-made thousandaire, and a lover of Hip-Hop. He currently owns and operates and runs an accounting firm with his father.

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