“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
- John 13:34-35
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
- Romans 13:8-10
“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black & white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world”
- C. Herbert Woolston, Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World
In July, my wife and I spent two and a half weeks with our son and his family in Tennessee. I made a few observations when I was there, and we discussed them.
With our son in the school system and with us having three grandchildren scheduled to start school soon (now in school for a couple of weeks), there were a lot of topics of discussion to choose from. One of the topics was Critical Race Theory. We said that there may be pockets of truth there, but on the whole the entire thing was false. People throw the word “systemic” around for shock value but they can never back it up with facts – random instances are not systemic unless you have continuity.
When my son asked about what I believed regarding “white privilege,” I told him of how I had been passed over for promotion because there were not enough minorities in management positions, but that did not stop management from making me a temporary manager, often hiring people to work for me that made more than I did, and I had a master’s degree and the employees did not. That was my white privilege.
When he started school a few weeks ago (my son working in a nearly all-Black impoverished community), he was assigned to longer hours than any other teacher with no bathroom breaks for four of the five workdays and given supervision of other teachers (and not getting a penny more) – no bathroom breaks and he takes a water pill due to DVT. He gets his “lunch” break at the end of the day, last twenty minutes before going home, but then he has “bus duty,” monitoring the children as they wait and get on the school buses, to break up any fights. When he complained that he did not get a planning period – after the new principal demanded better lesson plans from him – he was told that his lunch break doubled as his planning period. After all, since his lunch break was less than two hours before he would be home eating supper, she knew he was not going to eat. This violates the school district’s policies, but complaints are rarely acted upon.
My son maintains that since his mother is Eurasian, he is technically not white. He is correct, but he has no Asian features. But when my son told me his “schedule” and that he was one of only four “white” teachers in the school, I said, “Welcome to white privilege and whether critical race theory is being taught, you are getting it in action.”
But while we were on vacation, several things happened that were odd. I will only mention two, but there were many others that were similar.
On our way to Atlanta on a mini vacation within our vacation, we stopped in Alabama at a fast-food restaurant. The line was not moving quickly, but all the dark-skinned people in front of us in line moved through, moving slowly, but moving. When we ordered, the service stopped. My wife and I went first. We eventually waited over thirty minutes. While we were waiting, our son ordered for his five family members. They eventually waited forty-five minutes and got free dessert due to the long wait. After my son got his food, the steady slow service resumed, only after the “white” people were served.
My son and daughter-in-law asked if that was critical race theory in action, but I said that it was not. Maybe, but I chose to think it was not. All the workers were African-American, and they must have had a linear thinking manager, or taught to work in a linear fashion. One of the items in my meal was something that had run out of – an inexcusable error, but… They stopped all work, except for the drive-thru that was handled by two separate people, while that one item for me cooked for about twenty minutes. They could have skipped me and everyone else could have been eating. As a result, half of my meal was cold except for the cold items that were warm and the lettuce wilted, while the one item was extremely hot.
I have worked with linear workers who get to a stumbling block and stop work until that is resolved rather than make progress on other things. One worker of this type was so notorious that an older coworker and I would clear our schedule for a week or two before this person’s deadline was to come up. We knew the boss was going to tell us to drop everything, work late hours every night, to bring this engineer’s project from 10% to 100% completion in a week or so. We pulled off such miracles several times.
Our son, having worked in fast-food as a worker and a manager, saw the dynamic unfold, the linear progress, or lack thereof. He wondered if this was linear thinking on the worker’s part or a mandate from the manager due to past mistakes and more mistakes would not be tolerated. They would rather serve cold food than to forget a pickle slice – and oh, we ran out of pickles!
Thus, I let that one slide. It need not have been skin color related.
Then after visiting a museum in downtown Atlanta two days later, we went to a German restaurant nearby. My son had done the research. He had planned two meals in Atlanta, with every other meal on a whim type basis. The two meals were a night at a German beer garden restaurant and a different night at an authentic Indonesian dinner in an Asian part of the Atlanta area.
We had difficulty parking for the German dining, so I dropped my son and wife off and went to find a parking place. They realized that the restaurant was on the second floor, and my wife was too tired after the museum to take the stairs. My son bumped into an employee who showed them to the service elevator, something that they normally did for all handicapped and elderly.
The maître d was African-American. She noted that we needed to use the elevator, at least for my wife and son. There was a long wait for a table, but she seated us eventually. While we dined, a woman who had recently had cancer surgery was ushered to the elevator. We had confidence that my wife was in good hands. The reason for the German restaurant was that our son was born in Heidelberg, Germany, while I was stationed south of there. We had a great time.
On the way out, we reminded the maître d that we had someone in our party who needed use of the elevator. The maître d got ugly. She fussed and fumed about how the elevator was for employees only and she never let anyone use it for personal use – a lie in that she had done so only thirty minutes before. With her escalating volume of complaining about how we were making ridiculous demands, the employee that had ushered my wife up the elevator came by. He took my wife by the arm and she and my son were escorted through a private dining room to the elevator.
On the way home, my son mentioned that the private dining room was filled with African-Americans, and the food at the table was not German food, looking more like sandwiches and chips from a local deli – nothing on the restaurant’s menu.
Again, this was suspicious, but the maître d probably made a bargain with this group (whether the owner knew what was going on might be suspicious) that no one would interrupt their meeting, and when she promised that we would be able to use the elevator, she did not know that there would be a delay in us getting a table for us.
Yet, with the tension in the air between blacks and whites, you could interpret each of these instances as blacks giving white folks bad service, since they had always gotten better service their entire lives.
As for my wife, she had escaped at about 5-6 years old from Indonesia near the end of the revolution. As a person of mixed parentage, the family was asked where their loyalties were. They chose to be loyal to the Dutch. They were afforded the opportunity of leaving peacefully, while many others had no choice. If we were mistreated because we had never experienced hardship, they were misinformed.
I could have used those instances and many others as proof of an unofficial rebellion within the different colors in the USA, but I chose to see the possibility of another interpretation. I would love to have that same consideration when I do something stupid, but I doubt if that will happen. We have forgotten Jesus’ commandment to love one another. As a country, we have forgotten Jesus.
But let’s look at a different situation. My wife and I needed to go to the wholesale warehouse and a department store for some shopping. When we were finished at the wholesale warehouse, I bought a slice of pizza for my wife, pepperoni for extra protein, and a chicken bake (burrito style handheld chicken dish) for me, to minimize the wheat.
I sat, ate, and people watched. The Arab family behind us at the counter got a cheese pizza and went to the far corner of the dining area. The Korean boy had a meltdown when his mother would not get him a Captain America costume for Halloween, two months from now. The elderly Chinese couple struggled to push their shopping cart full of several cases of bottled water. Was it for their business? Or were they sending it off for some disaster relief? It was the only item that they purchased. There was a Filipino family at the table next to us laughing and speaking a language that I did not recognize. There is little difference in Filipino and Tagalog, but I know neither one. There were Pacific Islanders walking to and fro. There was an occasional African-American but far more Asians than even the whites in the area. And of those whites, you could see the variations in facial features. There were folks from both eastern European areas and western European areas and from Scandinavia to Italy.
Within just about fifteen minutes of eating my meal, I may have noticed people from over half the time zones around the globe, at least their ancestry was from there. And maybe everyone had said at one time or another in their lives, at least the men and boys, and maybe as stronger expressed as a little preschool Korean boy…
“Mommy! I want to be Captain America!!!!”
May we not see the color, but let us see the character within, as Martin Luther King Jr. put it. We are all made in God’s image, and Jesus commanded us to love one another.
A germ of prejudice? Only if you choose to see it that way. I choose to love my neighbor and defend the right for a little boy of Korean descent to become Captain America, if only for a day.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.