IS there anything you can do if you feel you are the object of racism? Getting angry and filing a complaint don't really solve the problem. Talking to the offender and telling him or her how you feel sometimes helps-and it is certainly better than getting angry. Anger never healed anything.
But the trouble with pointing out racism is that the one guilty often doesn't think he or she is doing anything wrong. For example, several years ago a fellow real estate agent learned that a cross had been burned in the yard of a house I had sold to an African-American family. She exclaimed, ''I would never show a house in that neighborhood to blacks. They wouldn't be happy there.'' My friend was completely oblivious of the racist nature of her remark. The fact of the matter was that the African-American family was completely happy with the home and neighborhood. The cross burning made them sad for the ignorance of those who burned the cross, but not unhappy with where they lived.
The best corrective to racism is found in prayer-prayer that is based on an understanding that man is the child of God, the full and complete expression of divine Mind. In God's kingdom-and that's the only one there is-there is no racist and no object of racism. Man expresses the goodness, wisdom, and caring compassion of God, his creator, and he is incapable of being the cause or victim of racism. This is the genuine identity of each one of us, and the ignorance, arrogance, and pride that spawn racism are no part of that God-created nature. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, points out: ''God is the creator of man, and, the divine Principle of man remaining perfect, the divine idea or reflection, man, remains perfect. Man is the expression of God's being'' (p. 470).
Christ Jesus' clear understanding that man's true nature is good and sinless not only reformed sinners, but also made it impossible for him to react to the taunts of his opponents with resentment or hurt feelings. We may not yet have the spiritual purity of Jesus, but anyone who strives to follow his example of love has God's help in facing up to racism and overcoming it. In the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus said: ''Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you'' (5:44).
An African-American friend of mine did this when she met with racism during her high-school years. She told me her story in a letter. She wrote, ''I worked as a disc jockey during my junior and senior years of high school. The man that supervised all social activities on campus seemed to have a problem working with me in a civilized manner, let alone looking at me as though I were a human being.''
She had thought about explaining to the social activities director how his actions made her feel, but that didn't seem to be the answer. In the past when she had tried to do this with others, it had never worked, and she wound up feeling worse than before. So, she said, ''I began to pray to see him and myself as God's children.'' God's child is never racist or discriminatory, but caring and thoughtful. She knew that whenever she thought about him, she had to see him and herself both embraced in divine Love. Thus, she and the social activities director could have only love for each other.
Soon his attitude toward her changed. He spoke to her kindly, helped her with a project she was working on for a class, and became a good friend. This was a complete turnaround from his previous behavior.
The power of Love is always supreme, as this student proved. We are actually acting as Christ Jesus would have us act when we turn to love, rather than to anger or recrimination to correct racist acts. God knows only one kind of man-man made in His likeness; pure and perfect, just as He is pure and perfect.
Have we not all one father?