Motivation for the Marketplace
Motivation for the Marketplace
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Racism remains a huge problem for American society.
Hate Must Be Overcome

       What sort of a person would burn a church? The question itself causes my stomach to knot up. Yet, since January 1995, almost 50 churches have been torched across the south. Last week, very close to home, two houses of worship burned down in Greenville, Texas. Most of the church buildings housed small, poor, rural African American congregations.

       Why black churches? The racism and the inexplicable hatred expressed by radical, cowardly terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan seem to provide a quick and easy answer. Perhaps in this case we shouldn’t stop with the simple explanation. The images of burning churches and tearful Christian people pull me up short as I reconsider not only the state of race relations in the United States, but also the  “hate index” in our communities. Racism remains a huge problem for American society. Just open your ears around your office or out on the job site. Underneath almost every expression of racial bias lurks an even more dangerous and irrational hatred. Hate-filled racism threatens to destroy our democratic enterprise. When racism and hatred thrive; suspicion, fear and anger usually follow close behind.

       What can be done on a daily basis to replace hatred with love, racism with respect? Try these practical suggestions for 30 days and let me know what happens:

  1. Honestly evaluate your own attitude toward people of different racial and ethnic groups. Do you make assumptions about the people you meet based on racial stereotypes? When meeting someone new, do you see color before anything else? Were you raised to evaluate people racially? Be willing to admit your own racism.
  2. Bring the subject up to a person of another race. Part of our problem is we never talk openly, honestly and calmly across racial lines about these issues. Ask an African American how the burning of the churches makes him feel. Ask an Anglo American how the current school board controversy makes her feel.
  3. Learn to relate to persons of other races on their terms. Minorities face this challenge everyday in the American workplace because so much of the culture of corporate America remains dominated by white rules and social norms. As a white person, make known your desire to step outside your small world and to relate to people of other races on the basis of rules established by another culture. Attend an African American church. Visit the African American museum in Fair Park or the South Dallas Cultural Center. Put yourself in positions where you are in the minority.
  4. Change your own behavior. Stop telling racial jokes. Stop laughing when you hear one. Correct people who express racist sentiments. Use your influence to end racism in your corner of the business world or marketplace.
  5. Take a stand for truth. Hatred and racism are never right. Stand up for equality in places where such action could cost you personally: at work, at school, at church, in your neighborhood, in your own family. Decide to be proactive rather than reactive. No matter what your racial background, you’ve had numerous opportunities to react during the past two years: racist school board members heard on tape, the O. J. verdict and its aftermath, Black Panthers ejected from open meetings, Black Panthers planning to attend school board meetings armed, burning churches, hate crimes, a recent Supreme Court ruling to redraw minority congressional districts, public housing reorganization into the suburbs and the suburban response, the continuing debate over affirmative action. The list seems endless. Stay focused on yourself and be proactive like the hundreds of folks who gathered for community worship and healing today in Greenville, Texas.
  6. Teach your children to love all people. Children have to be taught to hate others on the basis of race. Model racial reconciliation before your children and they will grow up surprised and infuriated by any expression of racism they encounter.

The terrible light of burning churches all across the South ought to awaken us to the need for renewal and revolution in our communities. Hatred must be overcome.


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