Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some percolations on prejudice:

As a 62 year old, with roots in the South who grew up in the Suburban North, and has lived his adult life in the small-town (barely) South, I have observed a variety of positions in matters related to prejudice.  Historically, in America, prejudice has had to do with skin color, what is wrongly called race. I say "wrongly" not only because of the information in the above article, or this one  which states that has been abandoned "as a biological category during the last quarter of the twentieth century," but, more so, because of my own unscientific observation.  President Obama is our "first Black President," yet his mom is Caucasian.  The same observation can be made in regard to the parentage of Halle Berry, Tiger Woods, and by-and-large the whole so-called "Latino" race.  The fact is racial labels are placed on people because of social, political, and geographic reasons.  Especially in places like America with our melting-pot history these distinctions have little if any relation to genetic reality.  (That is not to say, however, that such things have no reality.  The point of my musings is that unfortunately they do.)
Some of you have heard me tell about my personal acquaintance with the proximity in American history of radical segregation and exemplary racial egalitarianism.  I was helping a sweet older lady get through the horribly slow passage of time while her husband was in surgery.  Knowing she was interested in antiques, and things related to the Civil War, I told her about a gun I had seen a few days before (here is a picture of the type of gun or one similar).  Mrs. Rice got quiet for a moment and then said, "I think cousin so-n-so has Daddy's Civil War gun.  I was having this conversation more than a-hundred years after the surrender at Appomattox, so I assumed either she said "Daddy," but meant "grand"--or even "great-grand daddy," or that she meant "Daddy's gun" in the sense that he had inherited, or bought it somewhere along the line.  Over the next few minutes however, I probed and questioned a bit, and soon came to the startling realization that I was sitting with a true Daughter of the Confederacy.  I never did check, but she had to be one of the last living examples.  Her dad was one of the boy-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy at the end of the War.  He came home, and raised a family.  At some point his wife died.  He remarried, a much younger bride and raised a second family.  Frances was the youngest child of that brood.  Some quick arithmetic led to me realize just how close the war between the states was.  Is it any wonder that during my lifetime we had still been living down, and pushing back on the gross injustices that stemmed from a culture in which one group of people were bought, owned, and sold by another group.  This ongoing issue comes, in large part, from the fact that whether one descended from slave or master is largely clear by the color of ones skin.
A few years later the chairman of our local Democratic Party, a friend of mine and member of the church I pastor, asked me if I would deliver the invocation at a political event.  Mark Warner, current senator from Virginia, was beginning his run for governor of the Old Dominion.   We met on the courthouse steps passed pleasantries and shook hands.  I make an assumption here.  Mark Warner plays basketball.  I figure that at some point in the last few years he has been on the court with our hoop-shooting President.  So, I put my left arm around the shoulders of, and prayed with, a lady whose father fought in the Civil War--a conflict that at the least, had to do with enslavement of people from Africa who had been transported to America-- and with the other hand I shook hands with a man who plays basketball with the first African-American President of the United--a union made secure by the result of that war--States.
Taking the word at its simplest, to judge before, is it any wonder that throughout the past century,  and into this one, many Whites look at people of African extraction, and Black people look at Whites and make up their mind about them before they know anything other than their skin color?
It is explainable, but it is without excuse.  

The Bible gives clear input on the matter of pre-judging. 
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24, NASB)   
"Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5, NASB)   
Proverbs says,  "To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13, NIV)

That's enough to chew on for now.  Prejudice is foolish and wicked.  Nuf-sed, for now.

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