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I Grew Up In Predominantly White Suburbs

July 27, 2020

in the 1920s and 30s, I grew up in several Boston suburbs that were predominantly white. That adverb “predominantly” was generally understood in a numerical size sense. That was true of my neighborhood, my schools, my church – that was my culture. It was also true most of my career life- in the Navy in WW2, teaching Physics in Colleges, and then 32 years in IBM marketing. I never considered myself as a racist.

I never thought much about how the word “predominantly” was used any differently in the phrase, ”predominantly white or black.” It meant numerically by color. Except I did understand that it had a rich – poor connotation. In my culture, I failed to appreciate that “predominatly” included the word “dominate,” implying strength and control. Unfortunately, it had also come to imply “better than.” Blacks clearly understood and experienced this. And still do.

Domination Culture is not new. The Roman Empire was certainly a domination culture, as were the resulting nations of Europe. And that included the Catholic Church. In the 15th Century, following Columbus’ “discovery” of new lands, two Papal orders (called “Bulls”) were issued that authorized the Kings of Spain and Portugal, in a series of Discovery Documents, to claim those “non-Christian” lands. Their inhabitants, being non-Christian, were considered “less than human” so were available for enslavement and cruel treatment.. This ideology supported the dehumanization of both the enslaved Africans and the existing indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and California Spanish Missions. Britain also accepted this as their authorization for eastern North America. This Discovery Doctrine therefor encouraged white supremacy in the New World in that the white European settlers saw themselves as bearers of divine design with cultural superiority Moreover, in an 1823 opinion, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Marshall, wrote, “the principles of Discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands.” So it’s even part of our United States legal heritage as well.

I am much more aware now of the privileges I have been given as a white American in the 21st Century. Black Lives Matter is a significant movement that has the potential of making real equality in justice and economics that has been too long in coming for all living human beings. Even more significant to me is the realization that we are an integral part of the entire Universe which includes all forms of life, plus the Earth itself, the stars and galaxies. For me the entire Cosmos is sacred, making each one of us a sacred part of that Cosmos. Humans must come to accept that total Cosmos Community if are to reach our full potential as a species. We belong to something Grand. It changes our viewpoint on everything. For me, my first response is awe and wonder – and gratitude.

Loren Bullock
July 25, 2020

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