The story dominating the headlines this weekend is the revelation of the racist and horribly bigoted remarks by Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.  Just last week a newly famous Nevada cattle rancher got to air his bigoted views as well.  I get so tired of this.  The fact we still have people like this wears me out.

I normally don’t blog on the news of the day/week, but I had some thoughts on this one and wanted to share them and get your thoughts as well.

I got a little worked up about it, then I began to think about the horrible stain of racism on our country, and how we continue to make progress on it.

There’s a mathematical phenomenon known as an asymptote that came to mind as I was thinking about all this. [STICK WITH ME HERE!]  An asymptote is a curve or a line that draws closer and closer to zero as it continues, but never really reaches it.

For example, think about if you divided a number by two.  No matter how many times you divided and how small the number got, it would never mathematically hit zero.

It looks like this on a graph (upper right quadrant):

Asymptote

Okay, so what does this have to do with anything?  I think the problem of racism in America could be illustrated as an asymptote.  At one point in our history, racism was “infinitely” high.  But over time, with education and enlightenment and debating and even fighting, that amount began to be reduced.  It’s been reduced ever year, every decade.

Each generation has been better than the last.  Generations with a larger proportion of people that hold racist or bigoted views die off, and we’re left with a smaller number of people holding those views.

There’s still more to do, and that’s why unfortunately racism mirrors an asymptote – it will never actually reach zero.  We live in a free country in a fallen world.  We won’t reach that perfection as a society this side of heaven.  Despite that fact, we can take solace in two things:

1) As morbid as it may sound, generations with larger percentages of racist views will die off, leaving us with fewer people who hold them.  On the whole, there are fewer people that hold these views in each successive generation.  Donald Sterling is 80; he’ll die here in a few years.  Hopefully he’ll find Jesus before then; I don’t know.  Either way, his bigoted views will die with him.  And if you think that he’ll be able to pass these ides on to his progeny…

2) Succeeding generations are always shaped more by evolving societal norms than by their parents expectations and beliefs.  Each generation does life opposite (or at least very differently) than their parents.  They take the old ways and toss them aside.  Society as a whole has a much more effective impact on issues like these than just parental influence.  It’s clear through the [reasonably justifiable] public crucifixion of Sterling that our society is speaking pretty definitively about it’s values.  That response is shaping younger generations.

I’m not an expert on any of this, they’re just some observations that I’d love your thoughts on.  As I thought it through, I just found myself taking comfort in the fact that one day his views will die with him, and that time has a great cleansing effect on this stain of racism.

Question: What do you think about the assertion that racism will never reach zero, but we continue to make progress as time marches on?