I had a really disturbing conversation today with another white student in my English class. We were talking about what we had left to take in order to graduate. I was telling him that I really don't have much left in specific, but that I get to take whatever I want and that this semester I am taking "History of African-American Religion." He got a weird look on his face and his immediate verbal response was, "I would never take a class like that." I responded that it is a really good class and I am learning a lot. He repeated that he would never take a class like that. I asked him why and he said, "because I am a Christian." I responded that almost all of what we have been talking about is Christianity, Methodists, Baptists, etc. He said that he is pentecostal and repeated again that he would never take that kind of a class. I told him that the professor is a Baptist minister. He said that Baptist ministers bore him.
I think that it is pretty obvious that what he was saying really was that either black people can't be real Christians, or that black religion and history are irrelevant, or, I suspect from his body language, that he believes like white folks in the 18th century did in that people of African heritage have no souls. (The scary thing is, that I know that there are people who believe that still. The KKK justifies their racism, calling it Christianity.)
I just can't get that conversation out of my mind. I find myself second guessing what he was saying, and any way you slice it, it comes up racist. If not racist, than at least chosen ignorance based upon religious extremism. That is as dangerous as racism, because chosen ignorance based upon religious extremism leaves one open to being brain-washed into racism, mysogyny, anti-semitism, homophobia, terrorist mentality and any other avenues for hatred.
While talking to him, I knew that because of his chosen ignorance, that no matter what I said, I would not be able to get him to open his mind at all. The only thing I could think of to say to him was "Everyone has got to believe in something." I know that isn't a snappy comeback, but it is an honest statement. It is the only honest statement I could make in response without telling him that he is an idiot for being so close-minded about the world.