by Rev. Robert H. Tucker
December 1, 1997
It took the jury only 17 minutes to come to a unanimous verdict
of guilty of murder in the first-degree. Seventeen minutes, that
is, the second time around. The first trial ended with a hung
jury after four long days of deliberation. The trial concerned
the murder of Gil Epstein, a 27-year old Ft. Bend County assistant
district attorney. The one hold out in the first jury apparently
announced that it was unfair to the accused for wealthy Jews to
have the funds to offer a reward for the arrest and conviction
of Epstein's killer.
This story connected in my mind with a recent conversation
I had with a Jewish professional uncertain of the outcome of a
lawsuit. Convinced the suit has no justification, less convinced
is he of a favorable verdict since the jury might view him as
a financially well off Jew.
Then, I had a conversation with a woman who had been sexually
abused by a minister. The church and ecclesiastical authorities
both refused to take the woman's charges seriously and began to
blame her, even initiating a reprisal.
The video, "The Color of Fear," moved from receiving
my sporadic glances to full attention as I watched a number of
men, representative of the diversity of today's society, sit in
a circle and talk about race, about inclusion and exclusion. Taking
place over several days, strong, honest and sorrowful emotions
surfaced, painful stories were told, harsh words spewed forth
and deep yearnings were haltingly articulated, tears flowed, and
at the end a community of hugs had formed. It was, for me, a deeply
All this within a 30-day period. A small slice of the struggles
men and women have around the issues of race and sex in society.
How wearying it is to continually be wary, never knowing,
even in seemingly safe surroundings, when one will be booby trapped
by a derogatory word, hurtful humor, an aggressive act, or corporate
dismissal. We may have come a long way (and for those who histories
go back decades, we have), but measured against individuals' everyday
realities, we have a long road ahead.
Looking back, passing laws to outlaw the more blatant forms
of discriminatory behavior will turn out to be the easy part.
Increased sensitivity to our own hurtful words and actions, and
showing intolerance for those same words and actions from others,
is the far, far more difficult road yet ahead.
--Robert H. Tucker
1 December 1997
- © Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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