Thursday, January 15, 2009

Racism Won't Die - Unless we Kill It

Since time immemorial humans have chosen to demarcate themselves by race, credo, nationality, stature, hair color, and myriad other categorizations. These distinctions may be perfectly legitimate adjectives, but they serve little functional purpose other than to ostracize individuals or groups of people from one another. So imbedded in our human history is the concept of race that we seldom stop to rationalize that it is, as a matter of fact, a manmade construct.

The recent story of a second set of biracial twins demonstrates that the concept of race is more aptly a genetic trait, like the color of eyes or hair. Furthermore, recent results published from the Genographic Project reveal we are all descended from a small group of people based upon the limited variation in mitochondrial DNA found in today’s population. Similarly, from a Christian worldview, the bible says we are all descended from Adam and Eve and children of God. Therefore, whether religious, agnostic, or even devoutly atheistic, we can all accept that race is a trait misconstrued by the fallible human psyche to have significance.

Unfortunately, there are many people of ill will that wish to use the notion of race to advance their messages and actions of hate. Armed conflicts are raging in the World because of race. Small minds are often unable or unwilling to admit their folly and they may be a lost cause. However, the true irony is the paradoxical insistence by persons of a “disadvantaged race” to continue making racial distinctions.

If belonging to a particular “race” puts a person at a disadvantage would not the most ideal solution be to eliminate the racial standard? Indeed, erasing any racial boundaries or distinction would be utopian. While removing race from the vocabulary may be untenable for many generations to come, the continued emphasis of racial demarcations will forgo any hope of so doing. Yet we witness the continued lamentations of a variety of “racial groups” over the non-selection of their racial representation in President Elect Obama’s cabinet. Furthermore, no job application would be complete without the insidious multiple choice, “Please indicate your race,” question provoking the thought, “is there a right answer?”

Proponents of racial divisions often site the benefits of diversity, as if “race” somehow universally equates with a person’s ability to leverage varied experiences. This belief is imbued with rancorous fallaciousness because diversity is a byproduct of experience, point of view, and background; “race” is not a component in this formula. Only by leaving behind humankind’s fascination with skin color or national origin will we conquer our great social divide - a feat, I regret, not likely to be realized in my lifetime.

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