GENE ROBERTSON: We all lose when we're not inclusive

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 | 1:34 p.m. CDT

There are too many instances of discrimination in the sentencing of persons of color,  as well as in other prejudicial behaviors in our communities. When any person is viewed or addressed as a lesser human we, as a society, all lose.

Our real wealth is in all of our people. We can choose not to exploit all of our potential and leave diamonds in the rough burning into cinders, or we can mine and polish them by valuing them.

We can empower, educate and meaningfully employ them all so we can make the maximum contribution to society rather than create a vacuum, a drain and a menace.

Think of how much further we would be if we had unleashed the potential of minorities and women on the world long ago. I can still remember when the only notable scientists in this category were Marie Curie and George Washington Carver.

Remember when potential diamonds in sports were barred from the games?

There are and were many Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Elizabeth Warrens, Sonia Sotomayors, Oprah Winfreys, Neil deGrasse Tyson's and Pope Francises if we choose to open the gates of opportunity to them and not quash their ability to invest in their maximum potential.

We can accomplish this increase in progress by creating policies and systems of inclusion rather than exclusion. This major but simple change is not rocket science. It has been available to us throughout time.

We have chosen to build fences between people instead of bridges. We rationalized that it was necessary because they were different and generally lesser than we are. We failed to acknowledge that the fences we built fail to make us aware of our similarities which were far greater than our differences.

Now, as it has been said in more ways than one: We must tear down the walls that prevent us all from making the progress we could make if we were all on the same team addressing all the daily challenges that life presents to us. We still must be careful and certain that the walls and fences are down before we lessen our vigilance.

Until the walls and fences are removed, those on each side who are benefiting ought to help those who have less for survival.

Survival ought to lead to progress. We can only progress together.

Why don't we try doing unto others as we would have them do unto us in every aspect our lives?

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. He writes occasional columns for the Missourian.

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John Schultz August 7, 2014 | 11:09 a.m.

So no more affirmative action then?

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