And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (Acts 17:26)
Race in terms of skin color is a socio-economic construct created to make differences between groups of people based on race. Far too often these are unrighteous differences. The scriptures seem to contain no idea of race as a skin color; the scriptures certainly do not doctrinally distinguish between people based on race rooted in skin color.
There are some verses associated with skin that mention the words black and white. But this usage seem to depict an unusual condition for the person rather than a usual condition. For example Job 30:30 says “My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.” And Lamentations 5:10 says ” Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.” In Song of Solomon 1:5 we find “I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” Then in Song of Solomon 5:10 we find: ” My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.”
So then if Song of Solomon 1:5 and Song of Solomon 5:10 refer to skin color in the sense of race then we have the biblical example of an interracial couple/marriage. Yet, neither Job nor Lamentations nor Song or Solomon shows for certain that they refer to skin color in terms of race.
Although race is not a biblical doctrinal principle, it is useful for statistical purposes in order to counter oppressive tendencies of sinful people especially those with majority power in number or capacity or instruments, etc. Race is useful to measure need for corrective action. Race should never be used to discriminate. Yet, it may be used to measure whether discrimination has likely occurred due to sinful people unfair actions in denying equitable opportunity to many in a racial group.
Intermarriage and “out of wedlock” births are producing new categories of people (e.g., biracial) which may produce new racial groups. Ideally, racial grouping would eventually go away. But in a sinful world this may not happen. Thus, we should be prepared if racial groupings persist.
According to the Oxford Dictionary:
Racist: A person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
Racism: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
So then, racism is based on ideas of racial superiority/inferiority. However, racist does not necessarily involve ideas of superiority or inferiority given the presence of the word or in the above definition of racist. So then even if not all races can have persons who practice racism, these definitions establish that all races can have racist persons. (Yet, I will show below that my position is that all races can have persons who are racist and who therefore practice racism.)
Under the above definitions, there are those who say no individual within an oppressed group can be a racist.
The above definitions may be useful academically, but as a practical everyday matter, racial discrimination and racial prejudice is most always if not always rooted in some internalization of superiority based on race.
So then fundamentally, a racist is one who holds racism in his/her mind/heart; such a person may express and manifest that racism in a variety of ways.
Indeed, in an everyday practical sense most people seem to view racism as the act of prejudging a person based on that person’s race as the major factor; this prejudging starts in thoughts of the heart and/or mind and can manifest in word and/or action. This prejudging is called prejudice. Since all persons can be prejudice, it follows in a practical sense that all persons can be racist when that prejudice is based solely or primarily on the basis of another person’s race. This prejudging can manifest as some form of harmful discrimination.
In other words, racism is manifested behaviour in word and/or action that views and/or treats a person of another race with disdain or contempt using any power available including the power of words, of teaching, of economics, of law, etc. In this sense all persons can be racist and practice racism regardless of their race.
Power such as economic power becomes a tool by which a racist expresses and/or leverages that racism. Teaching a child to despise another race is another powerful tool that some racist of various races (White, Black, etc.) use to enforce and/or perpetuate their racism. Integration of races at schools is a major counter to such teaching as children experiences contradict such teaching starting at early ages. This is one major reason that personal racism has markedly decreased though not eliminated in our society; furthermore, lingering threads and effects of institution racism yet exist. We should with love and forgiveness continue to work to eliminate or at least markedly reduce both individual and institutional racism within our society.
A white person who calls all black people “Niggers” is a white racist practicing racism in word and heart in the very least.
A black person who calls all white people “Devils” is a black racist practicing racism in word and heart in the very least.
Racism is fundamentally an individual characteristic. A group can properly be labeled a racist group only if a person can choose to belong to that group. For example, it would be a falsehood to say White People is a racist group or Black People is a racist group. This is because one does not choose to become White or Black but it is biological. Furthermore, it would be false to represent all white people to be racist just as it would be false to represent that all black people are racist.
For a related topic see About Stereotyping.