Have you seen one of those headlines that say something like
“Experts found that “90% of black kids fail their GCSEs due to systemic racism”? Or something along those lines? Of course, you have (although mine is just an example).
What pops into your head when you see a headline like this? Do you shake your head in exasperation because yet another hiding place of racism has been exposed?
As soon as I spot a headline like this, I usually have a few questions:
- Who are these experts and who is paying their salaries?
- Which black kids did they survey? Where are they? Are they representative of me?
- What on earth is systemic racism?
Prior to 2020, like many young people, I never gave the phrase “systemic racism” or “institutional racism” much thought. The main thing I was conversant with was good ole, regular racism. Most of what I knew about systemic racism was tied heavily to my knowledge of the Jim Crow era, where specific laws were set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to enforce racial segregation.
To me, the term seemed a little out of place in 2020 Britain. The more frequently this appeared in the media, the more it piqued my curiosity.
There’s always this or that report, commission or expose that’s released about racial disparities…. almost every week, there’s something in the news. And it’s never good news.
Today I’m not here to discuss, prop up or debunk systemic racism. What I do want to point your attention to is how the media seems to constantly present racism or systemic racism as a superficial conclusion to very complex issues of racial disparities.
The conclusions of these reports often neglect the fact that disparities have other possible causes beyond race. Sometimes, all it takes is just a little extra diligence in research or even just logical reasoning and sometimes you will see the reason for the disparities. Sometimes it’s actually not that simple. There may be layers of influences that result in the outcome of disparity.
Whenever I read these reports, another concept that comes to mind is something I learnt in school called research bias. Bias impacts the validity and reliability of findings and can lead to misinterpretation of data. Research bias includes:
- Information bias
- Confirmation bias
- Interviewer bias
- Publication bias
- Researcher bias
- Selection bias
Now, if little old me, who is far from being an intellectual can understand these influences, surely these “Think Tanks” that pump out these reports are aware of all these biases?
So I asked myself, why do they keep doing this? And why do people keep slurping down their lazy, shoddy narrative?
I got my conclusion recently when we were driving down the M6 motorway. There was a major accident slightly ahead which ground traffic to a halt. Eventually, the road was closed. We were stuck there for hours. Whilst waiting, I went on Twitter in search of answers. I found out that 3 cars, 3 vans and a lorry were involved. There was a lot of emergency services presence. It was very dramatic.
When the road finally reopened, as we drove past the scene of the accident, I found myself shamefully sitting up in my seat and stretching my neck for a better look. What was I looking for? I think a lewd and depraved part of me was hoping to catch a glimpse of a severed finger or severed toe on the side of the road…maybe the ambulance forgot to take it with them.
I believe this is one of the reasons why news companies continue to pump out these headlines that fuel racial tension. In a sick and twisted way, we can’t seem to take our eyes off bad news.
Various studies show that stories with more negative terms in the headline drive more clicks and engagement, while positive terms decrease engagement. There’s also this old journalist mantra that says if it bleeds, it leads. This inevitably promoted promotes negativity bias. Negativity bias is a psychological phenomenon where we have a greater recall for Negative events, memories, and thoughts compared to positive ones.
If the media do what they do for clicks and money, why do we keep slurping it down? Why do black people continue to be baited by these headlines?
My theory is that this is due to something called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for evidence that confirms something we believe rather than evidence that disconfirms it. My theory is that confirmation bias is why a lot of black people click on these headlines. It’s like some black people are always looking for racism everywhere.
So if you see a headline that says the school is racist, that’s good because you now have someone else to blame other than yourself for getting an F in maths GCSE 10 years ago. Even though you know that you didn’t even study enough.
We need to remember that there is no glory in seeing everything through race-coloured glasses. Looking for racism in everything doesn’t make you more enlightened than everybody else. God forbid you refuse to blindly accept their oppression and victimhood narrative and suddenly you’re stupid or a sell-out.
Am I saying racism doesn’t exist in the UK?
Am I saying that the UK is this milk and honey UTOPIA where ethnic minorities live this trouble-free life? Am I saying that the UK has no work to do when it comes to racial issues? Of course not. That would be absurd!
And let me tell you, I have my own woefully tales of racism which I’m sure you do too.
Basically, what I’m saying is, let’s ask important and clarifying questions rather than blindly accepting sloppy narratives that have been expertly carved to manipulate and control you emotionally. Don’t let your ignorance be used for emotional exploitation.
The media is a business
We all know how powerful what we see in the media is and remember. The media isn’t exactly the source of truth.
Nowadays, they are just like any other business (more so the morally-bankrupt kind). And every company has their own motivation which for the media is usually money and power.
They know that race is an emotional topic and your outrage is hot currency. If they can keep you in a perpetual state of fear and anger, it’s a win for them.
Stay with me.
Again, I’m not trying to take away from anyone’s experience of racism, I’m saying that how you see everything matters. What the media puts out there is part of what we see.
If you let a corporation with its own agenda and motivations solely control how you see something like race, you’re just giving them more power.
I think a lot of people still don’t know that most mainstream media outlets lean either left or right in terms of ideology. I didn’t know this until my early 20s. I foolishly believed that they just reported the truth objectively.
Also, a lot of what you read in the media is not news or facts. You will often see a massive headline stating what you automatically assume to be fact and in small tiny letters, you’ll see the word opinion or advertorial. I don’t understand why this is legal.
The media thrives on reporting half-truths that conveniently support their bias or agenda. For example, even before full evidence emerges from police brutality cases, the media is already painting things in certain ways that are extremely unhelpful. Even when they have the full facts, they are still using provocative words that trigger certain people and add fuel to the fire.
Sometimes the media don’t even have to do much to trigger you. The story is still developing. In fact, all you’ve seen is the breaking news headline in the news ticker at the bottom of the screen “Black man killed by WH”. You’ve already rushed to B&Q to buy bricks to throw in the riot. Then later, you return home to find out it was “Black man killed by Whale”.
How did we allow ourselves to be controlled so easily? It’s because the offence of racism has been built an altar our minds.
There are numerous real-life cases where the news conveniently leaves out very important details or adds white lies for effect.
They don’t make money if they don’t affect you in a way. Your anger, emotions and reactions are or sale. The media is not a charity.
Why is it important to get things right?
The Bible says in Proverbs 18 that “life and death are in the power of the tongue”. I don’t think that bible verse is solely talking about positive confessions. It means that our words have the power to destroy, bring death or life. Which one do you think the enemy is interested in bringing?
Proverbs 18:13 says: To give an answer before listening is folly and shame.
In verse 17 it says: The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
I have a question for you. When you hear of these tragic stories, do you join in by fanning the flames of fear and anxiety by spreading lies or sharing half-baked stories on social media? I would argue that some forms of this is bearing false witness. As Christians, we ought to always be interested in and stand for the FULL truth.
We must remain passionate about the truth and not just become slaves to our emotions.
We need conversations that are full of wisdom, and solution-oriented. We need tailor-made solutions, which is why we need all the information we can get instead of just doctored or exaggerated stats that generate inflammatory responses.
If we don’t misdiagnose everything as racism, maybe we can ask the right contextual questions as to why 90% of black kids fail their GCSEs. Maybe we can find out that they are struggling to afford books, battling depression or other things that have real solutions and will bring real results.
When you paint everything with this broad brush of racism, you close the door to coherent dialogue which can lead to real solutions for these issues. When you cry racism at everything, you snatch the voice of the victims of real racism, you divert attention away from them. It’s not fair to lump everything together into this bowl of racism soup. Context and the truth are extremely important. We need to have an honest dialogue, without either side foaming at the mouth.
But why would the media fuel racial tension?
One thing I hear often is “Why would the media lie?” What logical reason could they possibly have for encouraging racial tension? Surely this is a conspiracy theory…! Here’s what I think is happening:
1. There is a power play going on
Some people pretend to care about this systemic racism that they are inventing just to gain power. Do you think they genuinely care? Do you think all those who claim to shine a light on or raise awareness for racism actually care? I’m not talking about your average person who may actually care about eradicating racism. I’m talking about those in power who gain more power by creating offence in our hearts so that we respond emotionally and predictably. They make sure you are occupied with the wrong things, while you ignore the things that can bring real change. They are intelligently manipulating and exploiting weak people who are frustrated and downcast. They also gain market share.
It’s time to stop opening doors for opportunists whose agenda are anarchy and the destruction of civilisation as we know it.
2. They are puppets of satan
We refuse to see beyond the people we can see. The media personalities, the politicians, the influencers etc. We forget whose payroll they are on. We forget who the bible called the god of this world. We’ve become ignorant of the devices of the devil.
The media is a device the devil thrives on. It’s his playground. I think a lot of us naively underestimate the devil’s commitment to playing the long game. This dude has been around for millennia and you think he doesn’t have a sophisticated plan? Do you think he doesn’t understand human nature? Do you think he doesn’t know how to exploit our nature?
The Bible calls him the father of lies and a deceiver from the beginning. Satan thrives in chaos. If he can use the media to orchestrate chaos and confusion, via the vehicle of racial tension, to him it’s just another productive day in the office.
The devil’s job is to sell you hopelessness, despair, and rage and he’ll be happy if you can cite racism as the cause.
3. Fear is the devil’s tool
If they can make you think that coffee is racist, the trees are racist, climate change is racist, and clothes are racist, what quality of life do you think the person who imbibes all that will have? If you actually believe that all these things are true and that the whole system is racist and every system is out to get you, doesn’t that mess with your mind? This is what the devil likes to do. He wants to make you hopeless and think that everything is against you.
If you go out in life thinking that way, how are you going to have faith that God is ordering your steps? The devil’s job is to sow fear into your heart.
Like I already said before I’m not disputing that people experience racism, there are racist people everywhere. But should you be nurturing that fear? Should you be sowing seeds of fear into your children’s lives and then everyday watering those seeds? You’ve already told your children that the police don’t like black people, the police don’t like Indian people. “If you’re Brown, the police don’t care about you, they just want to kill you”.
Even if the police, the schools, the systems or whatever the experts are saying is against me, even if it’s true, why should I believe that and hold that as God’s truth?
As a Christian, I don’t need to foster that in my heart. I guard my heart with all diligence like the Bible says, I renew my mind so that whatever nonsense the media is putting out there to make me fearful doesn’t make an impact.
In Ephesians 6, Paul asks us to put on the whole armour of God so that we may be able to withstand the schemes of the devil. The media has access to your mind. The enemy loves to occupy your attention. The more of your attention the devil has, the less time you can spend doing things that bring God glory. Therefore, your guard should always be up when you digest whatever info they are communicating. Fortify yourself in God’s truth.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Remember that you are in a spiritual warfare and the devil will take any opportunity to do damage by spreading lies. We as Christians are to stand as people of truth. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.