COVID is grinding on me. Sadly, this week I canceled my high school reunion scheduled for early October. It was to be our 60th.

I have a good friend who studied reunions. The first 20 years, too many people are full of insecurities ant the reunions are not meaningful. After 30 years everyone has had financial problems, marriage problems, health problems, children problems, etc., and people are glad to be alive. You can only imagine how glad we are after 60 years. Our reunions are great, hopefully we will get to have a 61st or 62nd.

Jeny and I are well but weary. To try to get refreshed we are going to visit family in Nashville and the St. Louis area. We are taking travel precautions and feel we will be safe hunkered down with my brother and cousin. We hope some new faces, playing cards and some laughter will be a welcome change.

While on vacation, I will not be publishing the blog for a couple of weeks. In the mean time I hope everyone stays safe.

Perspective. I saw something that put the COVID situation in a new perspective for me. I have in previous blogs show how a single instance can be blown out of proportion. This time I was reminded that a small percent of a big number can be a big number.

I have seen many people dismiss the COVID crisis because only 1 % die from it. Well the population in The United States is over 300,000,000. One percent of three hundred million is three million. Even at the seemingly small number of 1%, America is faced with the possibility of 3 million deaths. Now, I know every American will not get COVID, but I needed the reminder to be careful — small percentages of large numbers can be misleading.

Follow up. When I was young, if people were asked to free associate a name to the word genius. In my opinion, the overwhelming response would have been Albert Einstein. He was the genius of that time. Other names might be the answer today.

After I my last blog, an article about Albert Einstein was circulated by a couple of friends on Facebook.

Einstein gave the commencement address to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Lincoln is the oldest historically black college in America. It should not be confused with Lincoln University in Missouri  

In his address he commented:

“There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.”

As I read the post, his claims are:

  1. Racial injustice is bad
  2. Racism is a disease
  3. Racism is a disease of White people
  4. Colored people do not have the disease.

As I have made clear, I share Einstein’s concern for racial injustice. Certainly, the recent events make us all more aware than normal.

But I struggle with what he said. I would go so far as to say I believe some aspects of his statement actually work against racial progress.

Disease. I have a problem thinking of racism as a disease.  If people define racism in terms of attitudes and decision making, I can understand and have a discussion.

To call it a disease, is wrong to me. It implies it is something transmittable like a virus or bacteria. I believe at the personal level racist attitudes and decisions are learned and developed by several factors which I will not develop at this time—suffice to say I do not think racist behavior is caused by something I catch.

I believe that to be even more important to dismiss racism as a disease in a discussion of systemic racist behavior. I cannot conceive of an institution catching racism.

Humans. I think racist attitudes and decision-making are learned by humans. Therefore, I think all humans can develop racist attitudes and make racist decisions. I have no problem with the concept that the majority of the racist behaviors in America, both at the individual level and at a systemic level are by white humans and white controlled institutions.

However, the concept that one race or culture catches a disease and another does not is a concept with which I disagree and one which I believe slows racial progress. We will not find the solutions to racist behavior in test tubes or under microscopes but in understanding the learning conditions and the human conditions that lead humans to want to be in power over others.

Blacks and Mexican-Americans are human. If struggles for power occur in minorities, then as human beings, minorities can and do have the opportunity to abuse power. They have the capacity to engage in racist behavior. In my youth I observed first-hand what I consider to be racist behavior in relationships between Blacks and Mexican-Americans on the basketball court.

The research is clear, racist behaviors decrease when people of different races or cultures have to cooperate for success, but increase when different races or cultures compete for resources. In cases where Mexican-Americans and Blacks compete for the same resources the probability of racist behavior increases.

I find it strange to say I disagree with Einstein, but I do. He remains a genius and my disagreement does not make me one.

.

Back in three weeks.

While I am off, I encourage you to let me know how you are handling the times we live in.

Peace

Jerry



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