Jackie Gingrich Cushman

She publicly apologized the next day.

I have heard no speculation that the cause of her outburst was the race or gender of the line judge.

Nor have I heard any speculation that West's outburst was due to his possible deep-seated dislike of country music or blonde women.

Why pull together these episodes of September savagery where decorous speeches, matches and awards ceremonies have given way to spectacles of outbursts, lost tempers and uncivil behavior?

There is a difference between coincidence, when A and B occur together but one does not cause the other, and cause and effect, when A causes B. To the casual observer, coincidence is often mistaken for cause and effect.

Early in my career I moved from finance to marketing. Several marketing employees were convinced that the move of a finance person into marketing would ruin the marketing department.

Soon after the move, there was pushback regarding my approach to negotiating with vendors. Was this due to prejudice against finance people, or a serious question regarding policy implementation? Assuming the latter, we worked together to create a consistent policy. Was prejudice against finance people moving into marketing still evident? Certainly. But by addressing the substantive questions regarding policy, the prejudice dissipated.

To answer my own question, I do not believe that Obama's comment regarding West was prejudiced. But it provided us the opportunity to rethink prejudice. While we cannot condone prejudice, we cannot afford to believe that prejudice is lurking behind every comment, prejudging that it will surface. Instead, we must focus our energy and efforts on substantive policy issues.

Might some portion of the pushback regarding Obama's performance be due to underlying racial prejudices? Certainly.

Would an approach to solve substantive questions regarding policy without regard to outlying prejudged beliefs go a long way toward dissipating any remaining prejudices? Probably.

Is it fair to label all opposition to Obama as racist? Certainly not -- and possibly prejudiced.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.