Human Race is Second Place
Dr. John E. Bonfadini, Ed.D.
Emeritus, George Mason University
God made people with the same basic
parts — one heart, nose, and stomach; two legs, arms, eyes, and ears.
The differences that make each of us truly unique — those embedded
within our DNA — are not visible from the outside. But the differences
that are visible have caused problems for generations.
Gender has long been a major dividing
category. So, too, has skin color. For some reason, the Creator decided to
make human skins slightly different. Skin color and other physical
characteristics are reflective of the human category that man has labeled
“race.” In addition to the
categories of race and gender, humans have subdivided themselves into many
other groups. Religion, political affiliation, geographic location, and
age are a few more of the many things we use as identity indicators. Each
division creates another layer of associated problems. Seeking to identify
groups, we have divided the human race into a quagmire of differences when
we are, really, basically all the same. We need to become more aware of
the similarities and less concerned about differences, which have a
tendency to divide and cause societal conflict.
Last month the Super Bowl was played
with each team having a Black coach. The ethnicity of the coaches seemed
to be more important than the individual qualities of the coaches
themselves. They were the first Black coaches to reach the final game of
the football season in which a majority of the players were Black. We
chose to emphasize the coaches rather than the players. As a society we
should ask why? Everything in life has a first. Those we choose to
emphasize as significant firsts should be truly significant. Jackie
Robinson as the first Black athlete in baseball was significant, as was
Martin Luther King’s great contribution to society. Both men were
instrumental in removing significant barriers. Let’s not diminish those
achievements by placing the same importance on every first that takes
To illustrate this point I like to
tell the story of a man who came home all proud that he’d been elevated
to the position of V.P. His wife seemed unmoved when he informed her of
his achievement. He questioned her about her lack of enthusiasm. She said,
“They have a V.P. of prunes at the grocery store.” He said, “NO they
don’t.” She responded, “Call and ask.” The husband called, asking
the grocery store employee to speak to the “V.P. of Prunes.” The
employee replied, “Which one, regular or dehydrated?”
I understand that prejudice still
exists in all walks of life. Sometimes it’s hidden deep within
individuals, like DNA not visible to the human eye. My father was on his
death bed when a Black orderly attempted to attend to his needs. My dad
refused his help. I was stunned — I never knew my dad had those
feelings. Why, I won’t attempt to answer because I don’t know, but I
do know my feelings. I recently attended the 60th birthday party of a
friend of mine. Upon entering the restaurant, it was easily noticeable
that I was of a different ethnicity. We’ve been friends for decades and
the color of our skin is the last thing we’d use to evaluate each other.
He is a true friend because he truly understands God’s commandment,
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.” He’s welcome in my world and I in
his because we have evaluated each other using the human characteristics
that really matter, and race or gender aren’t among them.
Coach John Thompson, on his radio
show, made a comment about Black History Month saying, in his special way,
“Gee, they’ve given us a whole month.” Society is constantly trying
to recognize groups or individuals by assigning them a day or month. In
many ways these special days become little more than time off from work.
We need to make sure that history properly reflects and credits all human
Language differences are a major
problem in communication between ethnic groups. I believe it will become
more of a problem as technology allows different ethnic groups to exist in
a society without learning a primary language. The lack of a common
language is similar to having numerous operating systems for computers.
Too much time must be devoted to building interface networks. All
individuals living in this country or the world would be better off if a
required common language existed. Many books have been written about men
and women having different languages, but I won’t touch that subject.
In the next presidential election
we’ll probably have a “diverse” candidate (diverse, in this case,
meaning other than a Caucasian male). As a society, we’ve come a long
way. I can remember when John Kennedy was running for office, much
discussion centered on his religion. It was the first time I had a chance
to vote, another first for me to go along with many other firsts like,
first word, first step, first day in school … you get the picture.
I’ve voted in every election since, which is far more important than my
first vote. The president’s religion is less of an issue than it was
during the early ’60s election, but it continues to be a topic in some
circles. Evolution takes time.
I’m not so naive that I believe
human differences won’t always have an effect on society. But we should
use our brains, and we must be responsible for our own actions. Maybe God
provided us with fellow humans of different races as a test of how we’ll
react on a bigger and more important battleground. We could all probably
use a little more time in boot camp.
there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different
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