Overcoming the Blind Spot

In the middle of our multi-ethnic/cultural divide is a blind spot located in our field of vision. However, we compensate for it by using both of our eyes together. Much like an infant’s game of peek-a-boo – when she doesn’t see you, you don’t exist – our blind spot occurs when multi-ethnic/racial groups are unable to see one another.

Some of us perpetuate our blind spot with statements such as, “When I see you I don’t see color,” or “We live in a melting pot.” Some of us say that God is color blind. But why would a God who created the great diversity of our human race decide to turn a blind eye to its results? We live in a world of rich ethnic variety. To simplify us all to a homogeneous culture would limit us.

Cultural intelligence, the buzz word that is ever so popular these days, is described as the capability to be effective across various cultural contexts—including national, ethnic, organizational, and generational cultures. Many of us lack cultural intelligence because our blind spot causes us to see others through the lens of attribution – meaning we ascribe our own cultural values to others. The blind spot is a form of racism because it removes the challenge of multi-ethnic engagement.

For instance, in a multi-ethnic church service we might hear a bit of folksy praise and worship music that is typical to what we would experience in an Anglo church, however, the faces in each pew are the only diversity that occurs. But when the worship begins and the lights go down, they too disappear because the worship occurs in our blind spot. Where are the Latin rhythms, the far eastern Asian choruses or the deep gospel base tones?

Could our lack of cultural intelligence be part of the reason that ethnic houses of worship located outside the dominant culture are so resistant to integration? Not only is their blind spot located in the people of faith’s song selections, power distribution and leadership, but it can also be found in the greater society of corporate America and in many of our neighborhoods and social circles. When we are finally able to use our cultural intelligence, multi-ethnic relationships will develop in our society and our blind spot will no longer exist. 

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name! And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together! And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise! And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!Romans 15:7-13, The Message (MSG)

Kevin K. Robinson, Executive Director of Accord1

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