CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a place of winter For the Years of Winter…
The commentary on the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Traevon Martin, both before and after the trial, often centered on whether Zimmerman is “a racist.” In interviews, many people who knew Zimmerman claim that he is not a racist because he does not dislike black people. Others claim that he must dislike black people because he apparently “profiled” a young black man. Totally irrelevant.
When daughter Katie was a teaching asst. at the U of IL, while doing graduate work, university researchers looked into the question of whether male faculty members were paid more than females. At Katie’s subsistence [almost] level, men and women made the same amount. That was not true as the researchers went up through the faculty ranks from asst. prof to assoc. prof to full prof. Male asst. profs made a few thousand more than females, male associate profs made several more thousand, and male full profs made a whole lot more thousands.
The researchers were sure there had to be a reason for that disparity that wasn’t just anatomy. So they ran other variables. The highest paid profs were in medicine and the hard sciences, and most of them were male [an interesting disparity in itself]. They factored that in. It didn’t make any difference.
Well, men were more likely to have families to support than women [an interesting rationale in itself]. They factored that variable in, too. It made no difference.
They allowed for every possible variable and the disparate results stood: the only reason men made more than women was that they were men.
Immediately, all the male profs rose up as one and declared they would no longer take greater pay than their female counterparts for doing the same work and that they would return the extra they made to be distributed among the women who were unjustly paid less. Yeah, and if you believe that, I own some mosquito-free vacation lots in the Hiawatha National Forest I’m willing to sell you. There wasn’t even one prof who did that.
I’m sure that many of the male profs said it was an unjust system and should be changed, but not a one of them stopped taking the perks of an unjust system. None of them was a sexist in his heart and beliefs. They didn’t dislike women or believe they should be discriminated against. But they accepted the good things they received from a system that favored them just because they were male.
That’s the definition of sexism: not that you dislike women, but that you profit from the system that favors you just because of your gender. Ageism is not disliking old, or young, people; it’s getting discounts not by merit or need but just because of your age. Racism isn’t disliking people of a certain race; it’s profiting from a system that favors you just because of your race.
There is, of course, personal racism and sexism, etc. There are people who personally dislike black folks or white folks, women or men. That is wrong and immoral, but it is not unjust. It is unjust when a certain race or gender or religion or ethnic group or gender group profits from a system that discriminates against others.
In the years of winter, we’re old and smart enough to know this, and we’re old and smart enough to do something about it.