Equal And Unequal
We publish this week another article by Brother Bryan Vinson, to which we direct your most careful reading. It is in response to the articles by Brother Diestelkamp, Brother Smiddy, and the editorial by this writer accompanying the first article. We have published this exchange of views in keeping with our long-established policy of "letting both sides be heard." We think Brother Vinson's articles are as fine a presentation of his particular point of view as could be proffered. They are free from the "heat" that so often characterizes writings on the race problem. Certainly, in this most sensitive area all of us should seek "less heat and more light" in any discussion.
From these articles, the following points of agreement should be emphasized: (1) in God's sight there is absolutely equality among the races. In the final judgment day nobody (but nobody!) will receive any special consideration because of his race. Each man shall be judged "out of those which are written in the books, according to their works." Brother Vinson, of course, would affirm this with all the strength of his soul. (2) Before the laws of our nation there should be absolute equality. Nobody should be given preferential treatment because of his racial origin; and nobody should be given prejudicial treatment because of his race. This applies not only to the negro, but to the Indian, the Eskimo, the Chinese, and the mongrel as well. Brother Vinson believes this, as does every fair-minded person. Any charge against him to the contrary is unfair and untrue. (3) There should be absolute equality as to opportunity for bettering of one's lot in life. No person should be denied a job, for instance, on the basis of his race if race is the ONLY reason for the denial. We believe all would agree on this. It may be true, of course, that some racial strains are better qualified in certain fields than others; in which case the "qualification" (or lack of it) might be a reason for hiring or not hiring. But the racial element would NOT be the determining factor.
There is one factor, however, which poses a pretty knotty problem insofar as practical applications are concerned when we discuss the racial question. That is the status of the person of mixed race. Let us assume, for the moment, that Brother Vinson's contention is scriptural, and that God intended the racial strains should remain separate, with no crossing or intermarriage. Then the white person who DOES marry a negro, an Indian, a Chinese, Japanese, or a Mongolian has violated God's law and has sinned in the union. Let us agree to that for the moment. The question arises not as to this original union, but as to the offspring of such a marriage? With whom can this person contract a scriptural marriage? He is half-white and half-negro. He cannot marry into EITHER race. Just where is the line drawn? Those who have made studies of racial problems in America tell us that many thousands of negroes "pass" into the white section of our society each year. These are people who were born and reared as negroes, whose parents were negroes, but who actually are one-half, or three-fourths, or seven-eights WHITE. There are many other thousands, with exactly identical heritage (children of the same parents) who do NOT pass, but who prefer to remain in the negro culture. Now, who sins? the one who "passes" or the one who remains in the culture wherein he was born? Ethnologists tell us that approximately THREE-FOURTHS (more than 15,000,000) American negroes are of mixed (white and negro) blood. Is an octoroon (a person of one-eighth negro blood) permitted to marry a white person? If such IS permitted, then does this octoroon's brother or sister sin in marrying a negro? Let us assume that the octoroon does marry a white person (and sins in doing so), then how about the children of his union, who are one-sixteenth negro? Does this person sin in marrying a white person? If so, what about the children of this union — who have negro blood of only one-thirty second degree?
We recognize that these are hypothetical questions, and Brother Vinson may feel they ignore the point at issue. On the contrary, we believe they are right on the point. And we KNOW they are tremendously significant as to the realities of the racial situation in America Today. We find it difficult to accept a position which would compel these millions of normal human beings (through no fault of their own at all) to live in celibacy throughout their entire lifetime. Someone may contend that we are "charging the consequences" against Brother Vinson. We do not charge him, of course, in believing that all people of mixed racial heritage should remain unmarried — but we do charge that this IS an inescapable consequence of his contention.