Leaving prejudice alone

This week, a lot of people got upset because Senator Obama’s pastor got riled up once and said what he shouldn’t have.  I understand Rev Wright. I don’t agree with him, but I don’t agree with everything my own pastor says.

Mike Huckabee must also understand, probably better than me. Here’s what he said.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

I’m just a little younger than Mike Huckabee, and grew up Baptist in a neighboring state.  I remember those days. I remember the race riots of the late 60s. I grew up in that segregated society.I remember when Black history was a new concept. I’ve watched state after state and public group and company “apologize” to this race or that for the actions of forebearers for actions I had no part of.

I also remember the resentment of my friends over Affirmitive Action. I have know the exclusion of being the “wrong race” when all of my Black collegues have an event.
(I was once called a “nigger” by a black kid I was teaching in Vacation Bible School. It was a sign he accepted me to be “just like him”, but not a term I could use on anyone else.)

Usually I’m race-colorblind. I don’t notice much any more. I worked with one fellow more than a year before someting caused me to take mental note that he was Black.
Churches tend to be segregated places, still. My primary place of worship is integrated, but only a little (maybe 10%, maybe less) But the afternoon church renting space in the building where I too am sponsoring a congregation is ALL Black, and they look at me when I walk by, or when I started to enter. I was out of place and they helped me see it.

Senator Obama was right.  It’s time to get past the old stereotypes.  Time for all of us to become “race-colorblind”.

As one of our founding fathers said, we must all hang together, or we shall each hang separately.


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