I seem to have a little problem. Since I have been somewhat trained by the law enforcement personnel I work with, sometimes I am expected to be able to describe someone I encountered. I normally reply by pointing out that the person is male or female, had a blue hooded sweatshirt on with jeans and was wearing some kind of athletic shoes. And, then comes the inevitable question which is essential in identification: "Was he/she black or white?" That's where my little problem lies. Too often, I can't remember.
Our country (I can't speak for the rest of the world) has had a serious problem with race almost from its inception. Somehow because a person happens to be a particular color, he/she is immediately relegated to a certain position in life with a predetermined future. Of course, African Americans have suffered the most from this attitude, but so have others. In our time, American Indians, Japanese, Hispanics and Asians have all suffered. We claim that all Americans have equal rights, but our actions too often declared otherwise.
And, this is strange, for all humans have the same basic anatomy, the same kind of blood and the same mental abilities. In fact, you can transfer various human organs from one person to another regardless of their color. Without biblical input, no one appears to know why some are tinted red, yellow, brown or white. Some people claim it's the amount of sun they experienced, but how do you get so many different color shades from the same sun? And, why don't sun worshippers who spend hours basking in the sun to get dark suntans gradually become dark-skinned like Africans? Basically, all humans are alike except for the color of their skins and, of course, personal body characteristics.
So, why should white people attempt to subjugate anyone with a different color, especially since they aren't really white anyway? Remember the American Indians referred to white people conquering their lands as "pale faces." Remember also that Jesus was not exactly white; he was Jewish from the land of Israelites, which made him different from other colored folks. Time and education has proven that all humans have the potential to excel in all of the characteristics that they were endowed with by God.
When Oklahoma began the journey toward statehood, the Five Tribes of American Indians (Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole) and the Black people worked together farming the land and developing businesses; but when the white "Jim Crow" people from the South moved in, things changed. The Five Tribes maintained their integrity somewhat, but the Black people were subjugated and assigned to menial work. Yes, they were Americans with the right to vote, but they were not allowed to have the time or place to vote, restricted from good schools and only allowed to go to Black schools, restaurants, businesses, rest rooms and to ride in segregated train cars. This was Jim Crow politics at its worst.
Tim Madigan documents in his Smithsonian article (2021) "Confronting the Murderous Attack on the Most Prosperous Black Community in the Nation" that the Black people living in Oklahoma organized and developed that town of Greenwood, which was highly successful. On June 1, 1921, over 10,000 white people converged on the town and literally burned it to the ground. It was the worst racial disaster ever to occur in the United States, but until recently no one had ever heard about it. While burning over three-fourths of the town, they killed at least 168 people, including 19 children attending a day care center, and wounded around 600 others. Today, while celebrating (or remembering) this infamous day in life of Oklahoma, there are many historians and living victims who have thoroughly documented this historical event.
We would like to say that this kind of ruthless behavior no longer exists, but in fact it still dominates too much of our society. As I write this article, Asians are being singled out and beaten, a trial is being conducted over the killing of a black man by a police officer, and former President Trump made a practice of excluding any Muslim people from entering our country. A large number of state legislatures are passing laws making it extremely difficult for minority groups to vote. In Georgia, Black voters cannot vote because they work 9 to 5 and the polling places close at 5 p.m. And, if they are standing in line to vote, no one may even give them a bottle of water. Wow! It is Jim Crow all over again. And, if that isn't enough, a rouge male declared to me while waiting in a doctor's office that the pandemic was a hoax, that wearing masks was a farce and that it was all about the "survival of the fittest." And, since he was looking directly at me, an older person, I had to assume he was telling me that my time on earth was up. When is this nonsense going to end?
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Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the Fire Department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.