I'm Right Again Dot Com

                             A new commentary every Wednesday — July 13, 2016

PREJUDICE: The root cause of the problem 

    I really didn't want to write this, but like many of you, the shootings, both from police and black persons perspectives' is so tragic, I want to hope for better. First, we need to try and understand the root cause, buried deep in our DNA. 

    When I heard about "Affirmative Action" fifty years ago, I became excited at the concept. More on this will follow, but let me first run through a few definition of terms that was helpful to me in writing this essay.

    Prejudice: What someone identified as "The Other" a few decades ago, it was explained that this deep seated tribal thing had been ingrained in our genes for millennia. The word prejudice is  often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable judgment, toward a person or people because of gender, political opinion, social class, disability, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, language or skin color.

    It is hard to admit, but try as best as I can to deny it within myself, I have flunked, and even worse, continue to fail in having prejudices toward other people who fall within some of parameters cited above. How about you?

    Social Stratification: A societal categorization of people into socioeconomic strata, based on income, wealth, social station or political power. Admit it: we are in many ways and many times, self-centered beings. We tend to think that we can elevate ourselves by denigrating others.

    With all of these divisive elements in our DNA, change is very, very difficult. Each of us is called to work on it, every moment of every day, if we really want to effect beneficial change for posterity. (Someone just remarked that "I had quit preaching and gone to meddling." Thank you.)

      I began to internalize this when as a new recruit, I once left Ft. McClellan, Alabama on a three-day pass and watched without doing anything, not even speaking out, when a bus driver threw a 80-ish, little, black man off of a bus, between towns, at night...in the rain... just because he had taken a seat offered by a "Damyankee" soldier that was not in the back of bus. The man thrown off the bus could have been what I am today: a great-grandfather.

    Again, this was reinforced when I once called my doctor after I returned from the White Mountains near Greer, Arizona, after wounding myself while cleaning trout.  Now remember this was 50 years go. His nurse told me my regular doctor was out of town, but an associate was covering for him. I could come in immediately, but she added, that I should know he was "colored." (Yes, here I am in pain and bleeding and being a cranky old reactionary, I still asked what color was he?) The young Doc was very good at sewing up the hands of careless fishermen. I then began to view Affirmative Action as a benefit to everyone.

    Then came the Freedom marchers, the Civil Rights Movement...the  lunch counter sit-ins, Bull Conner at the Selma Bridge, the slaying and burial of some young Freedom Marchers in a dam in Neshoba County, Mississippi, the murder of Medgar Evers and assassination of Martin Luther King. You would think that those events would have brought about a national epiphany, but apparently it still hasn't. 

     Affirmative Action: A policy favoring those who tend to suffer discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education.

    Jobs and education— Which comes first? Obviously education. It seems to me that Affirmative Action has been thrown off the bus.  Let's find out why. It seems to me to be a beneficial investment for all of us. 

    I tear up when I listen to the Police Chief of Dallas; when black hands and white hands join together; where people are beginning to break down "The Other" prejudices and talk to one another with respect and appreciation in regard to stopping these terrible, insane shooting sprees and the aftermaths. (Don't you just hate HATE?)

    Shouting is counter-productive. Shooting anyone is absolutely insane. Right?

    Personal Testimony: Though I've been surrounded most of my life by relatives (Special Agents, Police and Prosecutors) engaged in the criminal justice system, I have been fortunate to gain a step-son-in-law whom we dearly love and respect, who is Black. We are so proud of him and his children. One is a career policeman and his younger brother a career sailor, now returning from serving his country aboard a warship in the Arabian Gulf. I wish you all could be so fortunate.


-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken


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