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Institutional Racism: Still??

September 18, 2013



Perhaps the greatest hockey player who ever lived, Wayne Gretzky, is quoted as saying, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is.  A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”  How true that advice is for all aspects of our lives.  Fifty years ago the Deep South was still fighting integration.  This was the mentality of playing not where the puck is, but playing where it had been long ago.  Recently Dr. Bonner, the President of the University of Alabama, met with sorority leaders and made it clear the segregated Greek system needed to end.  This too was not even playing where the puck is but rather where it had been.  It was a reaction and it was absolutely necessary, but done many years too late.  It was leading by reacting to events forced upon oneself.  I do not blame Dr. Bonner, but I do blame an antiquated, backward looking way of thinking.

It is long past time that the Deep South needs to do more than begin to look where the hockey puck is, and carefully plan where the puck is going to be.  There is no place for any type of racism or prejudice in our world today.  Even the slightest hint of such thinking, makes those who are playing the puck forward cringe in disbelief.  At least 2400 years ago the Torah recorded our responsibility to welcome with open arms the stranger.  “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34). This tenet is repeated no less than 36 times in the Torah.  The fact this was taught 2400 years ago as a basic attitude in life, should on the one hand impress us with Judaism’s forward thinking, and the other hand astound us that the whole world has not yet caught on.

The fact such diverse organizations from Mardi Gras, to the Greek system, can still in the year 2013 be looking so far backward is astounding.  We need to take more than one huge running leap to begin following Wayne Gretzky’s advice for our community, for all the United States, and the world to look very carefully where the puck is going to be.



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