Men, women, and children have been betrayed by their own prejudice since the dawn of time. Those with wisdom, patience, spiritual awareness have benefited in most encounters. Judging the package means that your initial impression of the person’s “look” is the foundation from which you determine what your relationship will be.
I have had conversations with Black men, women, and children for years that recount the way in which they have been judged by appearance alone. Here are a few notable examples.
Emmitt is the Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at a midlevel medical school. He recounted a time when he went into an exam room, with his first year resident, where a family was awaiting his consultation on the mother of the family. She was a forty something year old, with her husband, two sons – in their twenties, daughter, sister, and grandchild. They were all from a rural family of farmers. From his review of her medical records and recent testing it was clear that she had what was suspected to be large pelvic tumors that would need to be surgically removed. He had never met any of them previously. He entered the room and introduced himself, his doctor colleague (resident) and the nurse. After getting permission, he began to discuss her situation and lay out the possible options and potential consequences. When he was finished and asked if there were any questions, she and her husband turned to the resident and said, “We just want to make sure that he doesn’t touch me. He’s Black. He’s not going to do anything to me, I mean when we decide what we want to have done?” To the credit of the resident, he explained that Dr. Emmitt was the a nationally recognized expert in the diagnosis and treatment of cases such as theirs. The nurse also, added that he had been with the hospital working with her for over ten years. Dr. Emmitt then added, “We work here as a team. There is no patient or family member that gets to decided who is part of the clinical team. If you are uncomfortable with me as your doctor and team leader you can seek treatment at another facility.” The family was about to risk their future and her life based on their racist assumptions.
Chantel was the lead mechanical engineer at the Chicago Sun Times. She talked about an encounter with the service and sales team for a new press unit, Goliath - that was being considered for purchase. Her and her team were waiting in the office for the meeting. The security person ushered the Goliath team into the office whereby each person introduced themselves – no titles were used as was the normal custom to create a more casual atmosphere. Chantel opened the meeting by asking the Goliath team to proceed with their presentation. David, Chantel’s chief mechanic sat by her side. As the meeting progressed it was clear that all the dialog was directed to David, as they assumed he was in charge. When the Goliath team completed their formal presentation and asked David if he had any questions, he turned to look at Chantel and said “Well boss, what do you think?” While the astonishment and recognition of the fatal mistake they had made registered on the Goliath team, Chantel said she proceeded to present her short list of “Pros” and a decidedly long list of “Cons”. She followed up with, Can you address these short comings?” Needless to say, they didn’t get the contract.
Anyone heard of Stephen Curry? He’s on track to be the greatest three point shooter in NBA history. Yet he was not recruited by any of the major colleges in North Carolina where he lived. Duke and University of North Carolina looked him over and never called him once. His dad explained that he didn’t pass the “eye test”. They all complimented him of course, “His shooting was there, he was intelligent, but he didn't have the stature they wanted. How would he be able to defend against guards bigger than him in the ACC?” Well the rest is well known history, the only person to be unanimously voted the NBA MVP and is credited with changing the game by revolutionizing the 3-point shot which now dominates the game. Everyone missed his greatness early on because they judged the package and not what was inside.
While this is a cautionary message to those that make judgements based on little to no information, it is also a message of perseverance to those that would be judged. While most people overlook the genius of those among us, the wise will take time to open the package and look inside before deciding its usefulness.
For all of us that would be judged, continue to work, get better, and be ready. When the moment comes for you to meet your destiny, you got to be ready. Black men, women, and children continue to be misjudged every day of our lives. Always be ready for the wise people that know that what’s important lies beneath the surface.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear