Race…Or The Simplicity of Understanding

I just read one of the best articles regarding white privilege.  The article is written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson and is entitled; My White Friend Asked Me on Facebook to Explain White Privilege.  I Decided to Be Honest.  The article is in yesmagazine.org.

‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.  He is fired.  He’s fired!’  Trump said to considerable applause from the overwhelming white crowd.  Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.  Everything that we stand for.’

‘Then, on Saturday morning, Trump tweeted this about Curry: ‘ Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.  Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!’   CNN

When I began at Southern Illinois University, almost 40 years ago, my first foreman was an African American.

Jim, treated me…much as a father would treat a son.  In fact, Jim instructed a crew boss, that had verbally assaulted me the night before, that I was his son but that I just would not call him daddy.  The white crew boss…got the picture and apologized.

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Jim, was African American…and he smoked the most aromatic cigars…I think that is why I enjoy cigars today…because of my mentor and friend…Jim.

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I grew up in virtually an all white town and attended school without the fellowship of African Americans.

The first church that I attended, beginning at the age of 12, had one African American woman in it…and she was a loving and caring person.

At SIU, I quickly learned that African Americans were people of…compassion and education and skill and high standards of living and family and morality and that they were dedicated friends.

Every African American…that considered me their friend…honored me…and I was humbled by their love.

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One of the primary elements to consider…is that we are all just people…we are members of the human family…and we all are seeking the same primary things from life.

We seek fairness of opportunity.

We want our children to succeed and thrive.

We all want to be recognized for our accomplishments….on an even playing field.

No one wants to apologize for their race…but rather….we want to be recognized for our membership in the human family.

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I would ask christian groups…that are biased or that believe that the white race is superior…do you think that Jesus…was an Anglo Saxon?

One of the first lessons that I learned…is to treat all that I encounter…the same.

My friend, Peter, was Dean of the Law School, when I was working at SIU.  He treated me as his equal…and I was very touched…as I was a member of the Housekeeping Department.  Peter is African American.

Jewel, was my counselor and friend.  She was the first person that I upgraded to foreman when I became Superintendent of Building Services.   Her wisdom…upheld me and strengthened me…Jewel was African American.

Alfie, was a student employee that worked in my office during the latter part of my career.  Alfie, was the consummate gentleman…and talented…and Muslim…and he was my friend.

I told Alfie, that he was my son…he just would not call me Daddy.  He responded that he would call me Daddy…and to this day…he greets me warmly when I see him…and his Mother…hugs me each time we meet.

I think, that we must all lay aside our taught prejudices…and our learned biases…and see each other as equal members of the human family….created by the same God.

Christian, was a member of my student custodial staff…in my early years at SIU.  He told me that international students loved working with me…because that I had no prejudice.  I have never received a greater compliment…and I have humbly worked to fulfill Christian’s kind words…from then…until now.  Christian was from Ghana, Africa.

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One thing that I have observed, when attempting to bridge the racial divide….it is not easy….and sincere efforts, at times, do not yield the results that you are striving for.

This is life!

The best of intentions can be misunderstood…or refused…or not appreciated.

That does not mean to stop trying and working and praying for success and understanding…it simply means that the healing of the hurts of prejudice and bias and learned hatred…are difficult…but not impossible…to overcome.

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Many years ago, we were discussing our strategy to convince the University Administration…to give the faculty and staff a holiday recognizing Veterans Day.  We felt, strongly, that our precious Veterans should be recognized by a University closure…when November 11, occurred during the work week.

Discussion continued, around the Council Table, regarding Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

A white member of the Civil Service Council, spoke up, and said that she thought that we should focus on the 4th of July…instead of Dr. King’s Birthday.

An African American Council member, responded, that the 4th of July was not her Independence Day.

This statement, did not sound strange to me, as African Americans came to America…as slaves.

African Americans, for many years, were recognized by their government, as three fifths of a human being.

Today, we see voter suppression laws…being adopted in several states…with the express intent of preventing African Americans…the right to vote.

Over compensation…is not the answer…under compensation….is not the answer…unfettered conversation between African Americans and white Americans…that is often hard and hurtful…and revealing…is the first step…to the simplicity of understanding.

I, along with some of my church friends, rented a little house from Brozy Claybrook, in Elkville, Illinois, shortly after I graduated from High School in 1975.

Brozy, was a dignified man…and his wife was a retired school teacher.  The Claybrook’s home was beautiful…and they treated we…young….uneducated…white boys…with compassion and dignity and respect…that was beyond our years.

If I can be the gentleman…that Mr. Claybrook was…I will be a success.

Mr and Mrs. Claybrook…were African Americans.

The World Trade Center was destroyed by two planes containin

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: The World Trade Center was destroyed by two planes containing hijackers. Firefighter Kevin Shea of Ladder 35 lies semi conscious in debris field with Firefighter Ritchie Nogan of 113 standing over him. Shea was the only survivor of his unit. He was carried out by Nogan, two EMS workers and photographer Todd Maisel. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

People seek refuge inside a bank building after the first to

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: People seek refuge inside a bank building after the first tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. (Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

TO GO WITH AFP STORY "Americans mark 9/1

New York, UNITED STATES: TO GO WITH AFP STORY “Americans mark 9/11 anniversary with new questions on vulnerability” – This 11 September 2001 file photo shows Marcy Borders covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building after one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York. Borders was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. The woman was caught outside on the street as the cloud of smoke and dust enveloped the area. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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