Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 272
December 1, 1997

17 Minutes


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 moving experience.

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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