In this writing I wanted to share my personal introduction to Freemasonry, an organization that I had come to have a favorable opinion of and finally decided to inquire about how does one become a member.
I grew up in eastern Ohio in a small town called Wintersville, Ohio. My parents had decided to move there to make a fresh start for their young family, and to actually put some distance between themselves and meddlesome family on both sides.
Fast forward to 1988: I arrive at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Steubenville, Ohio to make my inquiry as to how one becomes a member of the organization.
I AM introduced to the then secretary of the Valley of Steubenville, Orient of Ohio. He was an older Caucasian man, and today I cannot even recall his name, but I can remember the sour look he had on his face when he explained to me that because my mother was a Black woman, I would be ineligible for membership in any lodge or even the Scottish Rite Bodies that met at that location.
What really stands out from that conversation was his comment that if I wanted to become a Freemason, I would have to go across town with "those niggers" and join.
This was my introduction to the real world of American Freemasonry, and the startling revelation that an organization with such high principles would even be segregated really took some time to sink into my mind.
It would be another year before I actually petitioned a lodge, and by then I was in North Carolina. I petitioned Granite City Lodge #828 F&AM Prince Hall Affiliation located in Mount Airy, North Carolina. At least I had the good sense to "stay in my place" and petition a Prince Hall lodge.
That brought another situation to my attention. The fact that there were Blacks in lodges that were NOT Prince Hall was somewhat confusing for me at that time, and the situation just didn't sound right to me. It was then that I began to read about and study Freemasonry in hopes of gaining personal understanding for myself.
During the course of my time period in North Carolina, I was privileged to gain a new perspective of racism from a different angle than I had experienced growing up in Ohio.
I can respect any person for whom they are (though I may personally dislike who they are), and greatly appreciate knowing who a person is in real life. Growing up in Ohio, I had mostly dealt with closet racists that put on a politically correct appearance while sabotaging a person of color from behind the scenes.
North Carolina showed me racism that was up front and in your face, and in some ways it was refreshing to know where I stood with any given person.
So, you now see double standard #1 that I personally experienced... being told that I wasn't good enough to become a Freemason if it were a lodge of Caucasians, but good enough to become a member in a lodge of "niggers" which meant that this man in Steubenville, Ohio saw me as a "nigger" without knowing me personally and not knowing either of my parents.
How does one form such an egregious opinion of someone that one does not know? To date, I still do not have an answer to that question, and will admit that I stopped seeking an answer many years ago.
This double standard #1 wasn't included anywhere in my study of Freemasonry and it's regulations, though I will admit having read about the purely American doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction, a racist doctrine that has never been and is not practiced anywhere else in the known world.
To my surprise, there are still ignorant mainstream Freemasons that quote this doctrine as if it is valid Masonic Jurisprudence. I use the term ignorant in the sense of "not knowing", and clearly there are many Freemasons, Prince Hall and mainstream/ regular that are unlearned when it comes to Freemasonry in its entirety, not just their own Grand Lodges set of rules and by-laws.
This will cause us to proceed to double standard #2 that I have observed, an ignorant Freemason in an organization that espouses a search for knowledge and self-improvement puzzled me at the ripe old age of 22 years.
Was it really possible that a person could remain in the same condition after initiation than they were in before that initiation? My own initiation has left an impact on me to this present day, 24 years later.
Apparently it was possible, as I was meeting many military Freemasons that I served with that bought into this load of horse dung, and truly believed it.
I will quickly touch upon double standard #3 that I have witnessed, that of using masonic influence improperly or for mercenary motives. This is something we are taught to not do, but had one truly learned that first lesson of subduance and personal improvement, this wouldn't need to be mentioned in my personal opinion.
I have witnessed this abuse so many times that I have lost count, but again, it was accepted that a Caucasian Freemason could use inappropriate means against another Freemason if he were Black, and especially if he were a Prince Hall Freemason.
In today's writing I have only mentioned three double standards I have personally witnessed. These double standards make no sense to a logical thinking person, as my journey has shown me that illogicality still runs rampant in some sectors of our fraternity and our society.
There is always the chance that our own personal conduct can reverse these examples, one Freemason at a time. After all, Masonic teaching is why I have remained a Freemason when many examples I witnessed would have caused some people to leave the fraternity.
That is all I have time for today, need to get back to research for my pending book(s).
Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man
The Twice Raised Freemason