Double VThe Double V
by Rawn James Jr.

I had just finished reading this book yesterday, a book about a different world a generation behind us, when I opened up this morning’s newspaper and found an article about today’s world that made my jaw drop. According to the article, several recent lawsuits have been filed against hospitals by black medical staff, after the hospitals accommodated the blatantly racist demands of people who specified that they would not accept treatment from black hospital staff for themselves or their family members. Really? Really!? How can this still be going on in 2013? It sounds like a story from our dark past, an era we thought was over and done with. It sounds like it came out of the book I’d just finished reading.

At one point in The Double V, the author describes the willingness of the Red Cross to accommodate racist demands which restricted blood donations, despite knowing perfectly well that the demands were scientifically ridiculous. They refused to accept blood from black donors because it would be too much hassle to segregate “black” blood from “white” blood, a completely unneccesary hassle which they created for themselves by accepting the false premise that there was any difference in the blood to begin with. This refusal was an insane waste of needed help in a wartime emergency. Just after reading of this nonsense, thinking thankfully that it was a relic of the discredited past, I open today’s newspaper and discover that similar nonsense still lives.

The utter waste of talent is the most painful and offensive part of this history. Blood donors are desperately needed, yet refused. Men are trained as engineers, navigators, radio operators, artillerymen, and then relegated to work as cooks, cargo schleppers, or toilet cleaners. It’s not that basic menial work doesn’t need doing, and it’s not that such work has no value as service to God and our neighbor. It’s that limiting who shall do any particular job based not on individual talent or training, based instead on an irrelevant factor like race, is a criminal waste of people’s gifts.

As the parable teaches, whether you possess one talent or ten, you must use them. A talent buried in the ground is a waste that offends God. If you are given the responsibility to deploy other people’s talents, deliberately suppressing those talents is an offense to God. Even for those who wouldn’t admit God into the discussion, it’s still an offense against democracy, which all Americans were presumably fighting for.

The Double V was a pledge to fight for victory on both fronts, to defeat racism not only in Nazi Germany but also in the United States. For anyone who saw clearly and believed truly in the ideals of their own country, it should have been a self-evident truth. That it wasn’t so obvious to a lot of people is one of the perpetual discouragements of this country’s history, from the beginning right up to this morning’s newspaper.