When Is It Right to Call Foul?

An American-African child at a segregated drin...

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Back in high school I had a friend that called foul on the Student Council Elections. I first met him in 2nd Grade. We went to school together for 11 years, had many classes together, talked regularly, right up until our senior year.

That year, George noticed after the Student Council Elections that the council was as white as rice. He called foul. As a result he was rewarded with a seat as “Student Council Liason” a position created just to add an American-African to the council to break up the all white group. The thing is, no one deliberately selected an all white council. The conspiracy that would have had to be in place for that would be so widespread and devious that when they accomplished their goal it would be trumpeted and touted loudly. People who tend to think that way aren’t the quiet kind. There was no concerted effort to eliminate racial diversity from the Student Council, but George was rewarded for saying their was.

To this day I haven’t spoken to him again. Granted, it got a world easier after 12th grade because I moved away to school, then the army, etc. But that last year, still in the same town, the same school, some of the same classes, and no further talks. Now, George and I were not best buds who did everything together, just ships passing in the night. Ships that had been in the same ports, traveling the same routes, just painted different colors.

Both my wife and I have been “taught” that it just is not right to sue because you get your feelings hurt. It has been discussed in Sunday School and church gatherings, though it is not a part of the Baptists dogma, or backed by scripture (unless you consider that Jesus never selected a lawyer as an apostle). Some of that bias entered into the decision to not associate with George, but it continues today.

I am a bit of an odd character in that I have been followed by police while driving through parts of town, pulled over for driving while white, I have been involved in situations where I was discriminated against because of my race and gender. These inconveniences have not risen to a level above simple annoyance except for 2 incidents, and I do not mean to indicate that they are equal to the more common flip side of this issue. I did actually report the first incident which occurred about a year before I got out of the army. In the end I called no-joy on my own before a written report was filed or action was taken despite the fact that the individual in charge’s assurance that he would move forward with it if I so desired. It would not have solved anything, I was removed from the situation, and it would just look like I had sour grapes over it.

But where do you draw the line? If you are discriminated against because of your color, or gender, or other factors, without reporting it to have it investigated how do you know that was the actual root cause? There are real drawbacks to calling foul in such a manner, even if it turns out that the discrimination was the root cause. The person calling foul is labeled as a poor-sport, or will forever be known as someone who only got ahead by calling foul. Yet it is important to call foul if it is truly the reason for discrimination because it keeps people from stepping on the next person in a similar manner. If no one complains, the status quo continues.

So when is it appropriate to call foul? If you find yourself in a situation where something that makes you different, that is explicitly written in everyone’s equal opportunity statements, where is the line drawn over which you have to step?

About an hour and a half after this posted Rick Warren tweeted: “Christians must vocally oppose tyranny everywhere:”SPEAK UP for the poor &helpless.See they get justice! Pr31:8.”
So when do you know it is for others and not just for you personally?



Filed under Storms and Life

4 responses to “When Is It Right to Call Foul?

  1. I ask myself the question: Am I just sticking up for myself or am I sticking up for someone else? I remember getting in a fight once in HS because two boys were beating up on the town pacifist’s kid who was also a pacifist and thus not going to fight back. I stepped in to “help” …of course the kid being beaten up didn’t help any. While in general, I don’t endorse punching on people, I never felt badly about that day. They soon walked out yelling obscenities and the boy did thank me. Not the same as crying foul, but sometimes there is a need to stand up for what is right no matter what the personal cost.

    • That is a great idea and could work in my case except that I want to stick up both for me and the next person, but I don’t want to get the stigma of only doing something because of my label. I guess that as long as I’m afraid of that I’m doing it more for me than the next person.

  2. I don’t know the answer to your question. I only know that Jesus was discriminated against horribly and He never cried foul. I’m not saying that crying ‘foul’ is wrong, but I do think that too many people cry ‘foul’ way too often.

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