The Falsehood of Racism

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Mordecai Schreiber

There is only one human race. There are no inferior or superior races. There is no master race. Homo sapiens is the name for the only human species on planet earth as defined by science. Homo is the human genus, which also includes Neanderthals and many other extinct species of hominid. Homo sapiens, or intelligent human, is the only surviving species of the genus Homo.

The Abrahamic religions postulate that all humans originate from the same primordial humans, metaphorically referred to in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis as Adam and Eve. The first human couple had two sons, Cain and Abel. According to the biblical narrative, Cain killed his brother Abel. Back in 1959, as a student rabbi, I was sent by my seminary in Cincinnati to a remote town in Mississippi to conduct High Holy Day services. I was put up by the small local Jewish community in a small motel, frequented by truck drivers. When I went down for breakfast at that motel, I overheard a truck driver at the next table telling his comrade that on Sunday the local preacher told the story of Cain and Abel. The preacher told the congregation that God punished Cain for killing his brother Abel by putting a sign on him so that people everywhere would know who he was. According to the preacher, the drive said in all earnestness, God changed Cain’s skin color from white to black, hence all black people are descendants of the murderer Cain, while all white people are descendant of Abel.

I have always known that the Bible can be bent in any direction to suit anyone’s purposes, but this was one of the most radical misrepresentation of the biblical text I had ever heard, which should not have surprised me, since this was the South on the eve of the Civil Rights struggle. Who would have thought that now, more than two generations later, racism would once again rear its ugly head in the land of the free. Who would have dreamed that in 2017 America the color of people’s skin would matter more than the content of their character?

I have always known that what we call civilization is a thin veneer covering primordial prejudices that refuse to go away. But how America, which since the days of the struggle for civil rights has taken giant steps to bring equality to all races and genders could, almost overnight, revert back to the primitive ideas of racism, is something that many people find very hard to grasp.

The world is watching, and the world is aghast. What has happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? I call on all people of faith, and particularly on all my fellow clergy of all faiths, to proclaim a day of brotherhood and let all know that we are all children of the same source of life, and that all colors, even white and black, are beautiful.