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How God Transformed My Perspective on Race

Written by Richard Ellis on

I distinctly remember my first visit to the Magic Kingdom as a young teen. I was amazed at all the stores that bordered Main Street with Cinderella’s Castle on the horizon. I was struck by the sheer size of the castle and how it seemed to tower over everything else in the Magic Kingdom.

Years later, I returned to Disney World for a three-day work project. As part of our learning experience, we took a tour of the Magic Kingdom—including Underground Disney. During this behind-the-scenes tour, the Disney team told us that the buildings and landscaping on the property were strategically placed in order to create a false sensation of size and space. Cinderella’s Castle, for instance, is quite smaller than the eye perceives it to be.

Since that time, I cannot walk through Walt Disney World without seeing each park through a different lens. Now I look for the illusion in order to see through to what is real.

In a similar way, what I see and hear has changed as a result of going on the Civil Rights Vision Trip. As part of the majority culture, I previously saw through a lens that believed race issues were largely settled. As I read the books we were given to prepare for the trip, I began to re-examine what I was seeing.

In the following days, all remaining pretenses were shattered. During each stop of the trip, my ignorance or blindness to issues of race was exposed. While these tensions might not be as consistently visible to someone like me, the trip made it clear to me that racial reconciliation has not been accomplished in our society.

Just like the Underground Disney tour transformed the way I see Disney World, God is transforming (Rom. 12:2) the way I see and understand our present age. Now, I read articles on race related subjects where I did not before. When I hear those of a different race share their experiences in or with the majority culture, I listen and seek to understand their perspective instead of dismissing it as a one-off interaction. When others in the majority culture express exasperation like, “Why are we still talking about this?” I can patiently explain why from a more informed position.

There is so much more for me to learn about this complicated issue. The trip exposed the shallowness of my understanding, for which I am thankful.  I am grateful for the Diversity Discipleship Discussion Group (3DG) at College Park, where I can continue growing my understanding and love for my brothers and sisters of the minority culture.  I know I cannot understand God’s creative design and his hope for his Church to reflect all nations if my personal relationships on this side of heaven do not reflect the diversity the children of God will experience in heaven. That continued growth is the next step in my personal journey. 

Richard Ellis

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