One of the things I did before I started this blog was to have a read of other Masonic blogs…I thought it was important to get a feel for what else was out there and for the way these things work. Imagine my horror, then, when I started getting sucked in to the most terrible tales of overtly racist behaviour among some American Grand Lodges.
I became a Freemason in Kenya and one of the things I always loved about it was the fact that it was a place where all people – well, all men at least (more of that another time) – could meet in amity regardless of their religion, race or tribe. At my Initiation I was held between the two Deacons – one a Sikh and the other a Hindu. The Master of the Lodge was an Englishman, the Immediate Past Master a black Kenyan, both Christians. Just as significant for a Lodge in Kenya at the time, the IPM was a Luo in a Lodge where most of the other Kenyans were Kikuyu… But the details are not important; the point is that the very idea that anyone could be excluded or discriminated against on the basis of any of these things: religion, race, tribe, etc. is just so antithetical to everything that Freemasonry is and everything that it stands for that I – perhaps naively – am totally and utterly dumbfounded to hear that it appears to be being tolerated in the ‘Land of the Free.’
Presumably, the racism that appears so evident to some American Masons is not as overt as it sounds. If it were, I like to assume that something would be done about it. I assume that racism is illegal in America as it is here. I certainly hope so.
But what we’re left with is the possibility of covert racism; of subtle exclusion and a complicity on the part of those who are racist themselves and those who are too weak or too unsure of their own position to make a stand against it. Or it may be that it is hard to pin down, to put a finger on and say, ‘No, this is not acceptable.’
Whatever it is, there is a simple course of action that we can all take: we make a stand. We say, clearly and irrevocably, that racism has no place in Freemasonry and that it is simply not possible to be a Mason and be racist. The two are mutually exclusive and anyone who consciously and purposefully displays racist behaviour should be asked to withdraw.
I’m tempted to quote from my own book. Page 88 of Hidden Depths – how ironic! – has a quotation from the American Declaration of Independence:
“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
American Declaration of Independence
Some things are so obvious that we think they don’t need saying. And yet some truths are so important, so overwhelmingly central to the way we understand ourselves and the world around us that they must be stated and repeated so that they become totally assimilated into what we are. Sometimes things are so obvious that we don’t say them enough and then we forget them, or at least forget their importance.
So let us state again, and remember it in our lives and make its truth self-evident in the way we interact with everybody with whom we come into contact: we believe absolutely that all human beings are the children of God and that we live with them as brothers and sisters, over, above and beyond any Masonic connection. If we are Brothers to our fellow Masons, we are, surely, Brothers to all.”
So, Racist Freemasons? They’re no Brothers of mine.
Racism in Freemasonry? No thanks.