They Found the Solution to the Problem of Race
THERE are thousands of persons today who have overcome lifelong racial prejudices. They have found the solution to the problem that continues to haunt humankind. How? The key is proper education, getting accurate information.
When this key is missing, prejudice often results. Prejudice is a prejudgment, a judgment arrived at before persons have really examined the evidence regarding the matter involved. Then, because of their prejudice, they are inclined to discriminate against others.
When it comes to the matter of race, persons often believe that they have examined the evidence. And they may think that they are acting on accurate information. But, actually, it is common for persons, from their youth up, to be informed improperly about peoples of other races and nationalities. The consequences are sad indeed.
The following first-person accounts show this. In one, a black describes what it is like to be a victim of racial prejudice and discrimination, yet tells how he found the solution to this problem. First, however, turn your attention to the story of a white. It illustrates how prejudices are often passed on from one generation to the next, but it shows the wholesome changes and benefits that can be realized by a person’s obtaining accurate information from a right source.
White Southerner Finds Solution
I was born white and raised in the deep South in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Segregation was written, not only into the law of the land then, but in the hearts of my family and our white neighbors. From youth up, the inferiority of the black race was instilled in us so that it was only natural to believe this. Everybody did. Besides, as we grew up, we saw what appeared to us as proof. For one thing, Negroes are black. No amount of washing can rid them of this evidence that they are of the ‘cursed race,’ our elders pointed out.
When given work to do, there was always a white overseer to tell them what to do and how to do it. ‘They’re too stupid to do anything requiring intelligence,’ was the reason given. ‘Blacks must be somewhere between the apes and humans, really subhuman,’ we were told.
On going to school, the theory of evolution strengthened these thoughts. Often blacks were ridiculed as being no more than “beasts,” only fit to do the simple but hard labor on the farms or to be domestics. Some even said that God had evidently created a race to be servants, not so bright as they were strong and able to do hard work in the hot sun. What matter, then, if occasionally, when he tried to assert himself and get out of his God-assigned place, it became necessary to put a black ‘in his place’ by a tongue-lashing or even blows?
Yes, even the churches encouraged this attitude, as blacks were not allowed to meet with us in worship. They had their own churches, often mere shacks in the middle of a cotton patch. Here we were told that their services were more shouting and singing sessions than meaningful sermons and Sunday-school sessions.
In hushed gossip circles the topic often turned to ‘the way they live—just a level above the animals.’ Cases of immorality and illegitimate children were pointed to. Nobody cared that a man or a woman did not bother to get a divorce in order to start living with a new partner. It was all part of their mentality, it was said. We weren’t told how, during slavery only a few generations before, black families were broken up and sold to different masters, or how certain slave owners would use a well-built slave to breed his slave women to produce offspring for the slave market.
I remember once pulling a crosscut saw with a young black my age in cutting down a tree. When he got hot, he really smelled! Ah! I thought, this proves what they say about blacks’ having a peculiar body odor. But I didn’t stop to consider that while I had taken a bath that day, he had very meager facilities for bathing in his humble home. Also, lack of early family training in hygiene likely diminished his incentive to take a bath often.
Obviously, the prevailing attitudes of the whites around me when I grew up had their effect on me. When I began to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses in my mid-teens there was a struggle at times to bring my thinking into harmony with what the Bible teaches about the races. Prejudice is hard to “unlearn.” I recall the mixed feelings that I had in making adjustments in my thinking.
There is a natural tendency to hold on to old concepts, but I was really pleased at heart each time an old myth was exploded. It was faith-strengthening to see how the Bible is true on this matter of the races, as I already knew it was true and reliable otherwise. All races had descended from one man, Adam; they are all equal in God’s sight. None are cursed by God. And the more I saw how blacks and even some other races around the world are treated, it became clear to me that any inequalities in abilities, intelligence, and so forth, must be due primarily, if not entirely, to the deprivations they had experienced stemming from prejudice.
In working with, sharing recreation with, studying with and worshiping with both blacks and whites for over thirty years, I have found no reason at all for one race to consider itself superior to another. Love of God and genuine unhypocritical love for one’s neighbor is the only answer to the question of racial prejudice.
Black Southerner Finds Solution
I was raised in the South in the late 1940’s. My family was very poor, as were most black families. Dad was a field laborer. I was never taught that blacks were inferior to whites, although it was quite evident that whites held this view.
My parents explained to me, and we were also taught in our segregated school, that blacks had been suppressed since coming to America as slaves. They said that even though we are supposed to be free and equal, everything is set up to keep us as secondary citizens, inferior to whites. My father told me that as a boy he wouldn’t dare look a white person in the eye while talking to him. He said that his head must be bowed a little and he would have to answer with a “yessa” or “nossa” for fear of reprisal. He even told me about his going into town and having a white shoot at his feet, and yelling, “Hey nigger, dance!”
So I was prepared for mistreatment and discrimination. Still it hurt. We were required to ride in the back of buses, and often to go to the back door or window of a restaurant to be served. And there were the rest rooms in public places with signs for “white” and “colored,” with the “colored” one, of course, always being of inferior quality. One day in the mid-1960’s, I went to a riding stable and was told, “There is a certain day for you folks.” Plenty of horses were available, but we couldn’t ride with whites.
Particularly frustrating to me was the vicious economic cycle that blacks were held in by whites. In the past, because of slavery and forced segregation, blacks were limited in education and employment opportunities, and thus were unable to improve their economic status or family life. Even in recent times, due to lack of education or discrimination, a black father often would be unable to provide adequately for his family, either materially or educationally.
By the time I started school many blacks had come to the conclusion that the only way to improve themselves was by getting a good education. I remember my teachers emphasizing this, saying: ‘Study, get a good education, so you will not have to work in the fields after completing high school.’ It was not the hard work that was objectionable. No, but it was working from sunup to sundown for meager wages, and ending up with nothing to show for it.
It was the system that discouraged many blacks. Some, who became frustrated because of not being able to find employment, turned to alcohol, drugs and crime to ease their frustrations. This only added support to the thought of whites that blacks are shiftless and lazy. There built up in me a deep sense of resentment for the perpetuation of the unjust and cruel economic system.
I began to wonder: Will a good education really free me from these injustices? Will it change the basic attitudes of whites toward me? These questions caused me much consternation. However, becoming involved in a Bible study with Jehovah’s Witnesses helped me to see the real reason for the racial injustices that are so prevalent. I also learned that the prayer that I was taught as a child offers the only lasting hope for relief—the kingdom of God.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
From my Bible studies I could see that all men are imperfect and do not always treat others in the way that they should. As the Bible says: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” (Eccl. 8:9) However, associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses helped me to see that they have the same view of race that the Bible sets forth. They really believe that God “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) Indeed, the Witnesses demonstrate the love Jesus said his true followers would have.—John 13:34, 35.
The Witnesses, I have found, practice this love among themselves whatever their race may be. True, as with others reared in this system, they may have had racial hatred and resentment pounded into them. But I have observed, with both myself and others, that when a person accepts God’s view of racial differences and strives to become intimately acquainted with people of different races, long-standing myths based on prejudice are dispelled.
I am thankful for having learned the Bible truths, which have helped to set me and my family free from such racial problems. We are happy to be kept busy helping others of all races to see that the kingdom of God is the true solution to all man’s problems.
Solution Available to All
These are not rare or unusual stories. Millions have learned prejudice from their youth; millions more have been victims of prejudice and, as a result, have suffered unjust racial discrimination. Yet, happily, God’s Word has the solution—it provides our Creator’s view of humankind and how we should treat one another.
First, as we have seen, the Bible teaches that we are all one human family. Yes, in God’s sight, humans of every race or nationality are equal in all respects. (Acts 10:34, 35) This is also the view that Jesus Christ expressed.
Christ’s principal command to his followers was that they “love one another” just as he loved them. (John 13:34, 35) This love among themselves was not to be some exclusive thing—just for members of a particular race or races. Not at all! “Have love for the whole association of brothers,” one of Christ’s apostles urged. And another said: “He who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.”—1 Pet. 2:17; 1 John 4:20.
How is this Christian love shown? God’s Word explains how when it urges: “In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) Think what it will mean when you do this. You will treat others, regardless of their race or nationality, with real dignity and respect, viewing them as “superior to you.” (Phil. 2:3) When such a spirit of genuine Christian love exists, the problem of racial prejudice is solved.
‘This is something that will never happen,’ some persons may object. Yet it has already happened among Jehovah’s Witnesses—in an organization of more than two million people! This is not to say that every single one of Jehovah’s Witnesses has become perfectly free from the prejudices learned from this ungodly system. No, but they have, to a degree unmatched by any other people on earth, solved this problem of race. And this becomes evident to any who investigate.
For example, Catholic writer William J. Whalen observed in the U.S. Catholic of July 1964: “I believe that one of the most attractive characteristics of this cult has been its traditional policy of racial equality. Negroes who become Jehovah’s Witnesses know they will be welcomed as full human beings.”
Also, G. Norman Eddy, after an intensive study of Jehovah’s Witnesses, wrote in the religious publication Journal of Bible and Religion: “Penetrating more deeply into their social values, I am struck with their genuine high regard for the people of all races. Unlike some who pay lip service to the doctrine of racial brotherhood, the Witnesses welcome all to their society—even to places of outstanding leadership—without reference to color or feature.”
Are you a person who longs for true brotherhood, to see people of all races dwell together in peace? We welcome you, then, to attend a local Kingdom Hall where Jehovah’s Witnesses meet regularly to study God’s Word. See for yourself if they do not display genuine Christian love-for people of all races.
[Blurb on page 27]
“Negroes who become Jehovah’s Witnesses know they will be welcomed as full human beings.”