by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          Aug 4, 2017

“Let justice roll down like waters,
          and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
                          – Amos 5:24

I’ve been hearing a lot about discrimination against “whites” lately. I heard about it on the Presidential campaign trailracism shirt, read about it in the news, and have even heard about it from my own family. Due to an over-sensitivity to political correctness, whites, and especially white males, are regularly being discriminated against. Their opportunities in the job market, higher education, and for financial assistance are being unfairly restricted in favor of “minorities”. In some ways, this is undeniable. I have been passed over for more than one job where the reality that I am a straight, white male has worked against me. Affirmative Action, racial quotas and the burgeoning desire for companies, schools, and communities to reflect our cultural and racial “diversity” have all taken their toll on the prospects for white males in recent decades. This is, as our current president likes to say, “unfair!” However, this is only a fraction of the story.

If society was set up on an even playing field, preferences given to any group or individual over another would be rightly redliningdeclared unfair. Unfortunately, we are not living on a level playing field. Our culture is entirely skewed. Racism and sexism are real. White privilege exists. While being a straight white male has worked against me in a few instances, the opportunities I have been granted for being such have far out-weighed those experiences. I have been hired at jobs that never would have considered me if I were black or a woman. And if I were black, chances are that I would earn 27.2% less than I do now with the same exact education level and job experience. Not only that, studies repeatedly show that individuals with “black sounding names” receive fewer call for job interviews than those with “white sounding names.” This is privilege.

Now, I’ve heard the arguments, “Get over it! Slavery ended 150 years ago and the civil rights movement over 50 years ago. Discrimination is over.” But it’s not. Three centuries of systematic legally-enforced discrimination* cannot be undone in a few decades. Even if we were to stop all racial discrimination now, would that make the playing field equal? No, because the “haves” already “have” and the “have nots” are already without. Consider this illustration:

If you were a farmer and used toxicdead farm' fertilizer on your soil for years only to realize after decades that the chemicals destroyed your soil, would stopping the use of that fertilizer return your soil to good shape? No. It would potentially take as long or longer for the soil to recover, if it even could recover on its own. In order to decontaminate the soil, you would likely need to take active steps to undo the damage that has been done; like remove and replace some of the soil, add healthy soil, replenish natural nutrients, etc. Simply stopping the use of toxins would not return the soil to a useful state.

So it is with the racial divide in this country. The historic lack of equal access to education, employment, representation, and housing has long lasting effects. Generations long. And there are no easy fixes. And it will take even longer if that equal access is still not present, which is the case in many instances. (Can we honestly say that a student graduating from a Providence High School has just as many opportunities as a student graduating from Barrington High School? And what is the racial make-up of these two communities?)

I don’t deny the feelings of discrimination that many of my fellow “whites” feel these days. Those feelings are real. As I have said, I have experienced them firsthand. However, this “discrimination” is only the start of a necessary rebalancing that is essential to creating a level playing field, to creating fertile soil that has never really living farmexisted in our country. Think about it. When have non-Europeans experienced a level playing field in the U.S.? Never.

Now I’m not saying that we should return to the past policies of Affirmative Action and/or racial quotas, but we need to acknowledge that the field still is not level and figure out how to make it more so. For in the end, we all say we are after the same thing: equal opportunities for all! Equal opportunities can only come about, when we openly acknowledge that they are not equal right now, and are willing to work to make it better.

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.
               For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
                              – Galatians 3:

* For more information on “legally enforced discrimination” run a search on “red lining” and “Black codes”. These are just a few examples of how the majority sought to enforce white-privilege through the years.