Why Race Anyway?
As my son wraps up his AA he’s taking a Race, Class, and Gender class. He’s the third child of mine to take the class. Apparently, this teacher requires a weekly wrap up because the past two Wednesday mornings I’ve found a paper on my seat to read. This son likes for me to proof his work, though he hardly needs it.
I have got to take this class! As I read through his paper this morning I was getting all riled up about how (and who) we’ve classified race for census purposes. I wasn’t fully aware that Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race – so now I better understand why it has changed over the years as they cry out for better recognition.
But mostly, reading through my son’s recap of the week in Race, Class, and Gender class, made me think about how we’ve done this to ourselves. From the beginning we’ve singled out our differences. Originally, we defined our differences by our religion before changing it to race. Which does at least show some progress over the years. There has been mention of changing the designation to national origin instead of race, since people relate more to where they or their ancestors came from more than their race. I would love to take the focus off of the color of our skin.
My main thought as I read through the paper, was that our forefathers made mistakes and who’s to say we aren’t still making them? They came up with the idea to take a census to find out how many residents in our country were Jewish or Christian. Then they must have realized that our country promised freedom of religion, so they changed it to counting how many of us were Native American or Asian or African American. Now that there is big money in the race classification, because corporations target marketing based on race, we’ll probably never get away from it, but would national origin unite us? Or would it just create a new set of prejudices?
Who is to say that what we are fighting for now is right any more than what we are fighting against was thought to be right when it was designated? Why the hell do we have to classify our populous anyway? In my utopia it doesn’t give a lick what color your skin is or where your great, great, great grandpa was born. In my utopia if you want an opportunity (school, job, housing,) and you’ve worked hard and proven you’re capable you should have an equal chance at obtaining it as ANY other American. In my utopia if you’re struggling and prove that you’re capabilities are permanently or temporarily dimished (mental health, injury, poor health,) you should have an equal opportunity to qualify for assistance as ANY other American.
I know it isn’t ever as simple as it that. There is rarely a straight line between right and wrong. But it seems we’ve made much more of a jumble of it than we needed to and I really, really wish we could have a do over. It’s all so unneccessary. Prejudice was started out of ignorance, fueled by fear, and perpetuated by apathy. Let’s wipe the slate clean and have one single classification.
The human race.