are you a racist?

It pains me to see the country’s current dialogue regarding race. Actually, “dialogue” is not an accurate characterization; it seems more a finger pointing match, accompanied by increasingly surging screaming. Yes, screaming ensures a voice is heard; however, respect and heart change are simultaneously minimized.

Wanting to do my part, so-to-speak, to contribute positively to the conversation and avoid the societal lure to join in any accusatory fray, I found myself immersed in Miles McPherson’s The Third Option…

The Third Option… 

Or subtitled: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation. 

Isn’t that the problem? The combination of finger pointing and screaming doesn’t lead to hope. It simply encourages extended blame. Who, when the target of blame, desires to change, grow, or consider any other perspective?

Miles McPherson is a biracial man born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960. He played for four years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. During this time of greatest perceived, professional success, McPherson developed a cocaine addiction that admittedly sent him into a critical, destructive decline. After a weekend binge in his second year as a pro, McPherson made the decision to turn his life around, figure the faith thing out, and he stopped doing drugs in a single day. McPherson has a powerful story to share.

In The Third Option — written by one who grew up not feeling he fit well into any ethnic grouping, as “a mixed-race kid in a segregated era of our nation’s history” —  McPherson emphatically urges resistance to the country’s current, enticing call. Society keeps trying to get us to choose “us” or “them” — as if there exist only two choices. 

There is a third. Honor. 

Writes McPherson:

“You may despise racism, but it affects us all, whether we know it or not. It is a corrupter of the soul that degrades and devalues those who look different from us. When we allow racism into our hearts and society, we minimize the priceless value of God’s image in others, which limits our ability to honor, love, and serve them the way God calls us to.

Culture plays a big role in perpetuating racism by wrongly insisting that there are only two options you can choose from: us or them. Culture pits one group of people against another by promoting a zero-sum game mentality that says, ‘You must lose in order for me to win.’ 

God, however, offers us a Third Option that stands in stark contrast to the two offered by culture. God’s Third Option invites us to honor that which we have in common, the presence of His image in every person we meet.”

The misleading, dichotomous choice that culture instead offers, attempts to lure us into what is none other than an “oversimplified” question. Simply put:

Are you a racist?

Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab or other…

Are you a racist?

Who would say “yes” to that?

The question is not that easy. It’s also not helpful. It only seems to divide us more.

The Third Option is an “elevated level of honor.” It’s a refraining from the “us vs. them” mentality and from any pointing of fingers. It’s looking inside another… acknowledging that they, too — just like me and you — were created in the image of God. 

But it starts with self… with each one of us…

Who do you need to see differently?

Who are you devaluing?

… because you don’t look like them? … think like them? … or maybe you don’t even like them?

If we could instead focus on the image of God within absolute, every other…

What a far more honorable and profitable pursuit.