Sitting in Judgment of Others

Posted on: November 15th, 2012
As a society we have a tendency to judge before interaction. We make snap judgments of who to sit next to on the CTA, who to talk to at a bar, and even who to avoid based solely on outer appearance. Like Mrs. Turpin, whose character in Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation” is so judgmental of other patients in the doctor’s office that a book is thrown at her head, many in our culture sit in judgment of others. This is a position of power.

In focusing in on race, judgments about race create great drifts in cultures and often cause conflict and heartache. Iris Marion Young explains in Justice and the Politics of Difference, “The experience of racial oppression entails in part existing as a group defined as having ugly bodies, and being feared, avoided, or hated on that account”. Who woke up one day and said that the white race is superior? Scientist say that the first humans were of darker colored skin and came from portion of present-day Africa, so who made this decision? What about God? Most artists depict both God and Jesus as being white. Robert F Kennedy gave great insight to this when saying “But suppose God is black? What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and he is not white? What then is our response?” We are all created in the image and likeness of God, then does God have a race? It is my belief that the answer to that question is no. God is a higher power, one that cannot be defined by our earthly descriptors, race, gender, and sexuality. God did not make any mistake when creating humanity. As Fredrich Otto Hertz said, “At the heart of racism is the religious assertion that God made a creative mistake when He brought some people into being.” God did not make any mistakes.

As a white female, I often do not reflect on or make comments about race. Iris Marion Young describes that as “The dominant groups need not notice their own group being at all; they occupy an unmarked, neutral, apparently universal position” (123). It is a place of privilege for me to not think about my identity on a regular basis. In my experience, no one has avoided sitting by me on the CTA or not talked to me at a bar because of the way I look. That is an advantage I have. My white privilege has given me advantages that I do not even know. But in recognizing white privilege we are one step closer to ending racism.

Mrs. Turpin was not the first person to makes judgments about others and will definitely not be the last, but where can we start to end this cycle of hatred? I do not have those answers, but in identifying race as a barrier to some, we have movement towards change. Maya Angelou once said, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the treads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” Diversity is a good thing, we cannot let hatred, and racism stifle that.

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