Tags: African American, African Americans, America, america's race problem, black, black skin color, Chief Justice John Roberts, cultural identity, current-events, discrimination, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, identity, Marian Wright-Edelman, race, Race in America, skin color, slavery, white
Without realizing it, many educators and people of influence are supporting and promoting the separation and discrimination of people by race and color. The way it is being done is through the use of race by color, i.e., black race and white race. Let us take a close look at these phenomena called race by color and see what problems and challenges it continues to place of humanity, especially in America. The word race initially did not contain an element of color when it was used by the Angles and Saxons to distinguish themselves from the Brits. To the people then, the word race carried a sense of a biological difference among nations. Today, we know “What is false in this dogma is the belief that a nation is a race, a group sharing a common biological descent. Equating nation with race defies the most elementary knowledge of history. From time immemorial, Europe and America have been playgrounds of miscegenation” (Jacques Barzan, From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present).
Race by color became important in America when Africans became the primary source of slaves. Creating two races, one black and one white served to strengthen the power, prestige and control of majority society. The Europeans/European Americans were identified as white; meaning that all the positive attributes of human beings would be posited in them. For the African/African Americans, the reverse was alleged to be true. This illusion of race would and could work because the enslavers held all power over the slaves, and to a large degree, society. The power did not reside only in the skin color, but how the skin complexion was valued in society. For example, under the belief system of race by color, only a so-called white man and a so-called white woman could produce a so-called white child. In effect, no other man or woman on the planet could do that. All people of color (who were less valued in society than the so-called white) could never produce a so-called white child. Any and all off springs of European men would take the identity of the mother. In an effort to prevent European servant women from marrying African men, the state of Maryland created and passed the first miscegenation law in 1661. The slave industry even created a system whereby the degree of whiteness could be measured in Africans and other slaves of color which increased their market value—mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, etc.
The illusion of human and social value associated with the skin color is still very much a part of American society today, and because of that, America can make only limited social progress. Part of the problem comes from many Americans who are unwilling to recognize the fact that race is an illusion and want to hold on to their color as an identity. The problem with holding on to race by color is that it cannot be defined except on a very limited basis, and then it falls apart. People who identify themselves as black may not in fact have a black skin color, so what does black mean in those situations? Some people will suggest that black means African American. Well, black and African American are not the same or interchangeable. Black does not distinguish a personal identity based on color, culture, ethnicity, or geography—the only relevance black has is to a black race that was created during slavery with all negative contexts. The same thing can be said of European Americans who call themselves white, except the contexts are positive.
When the young Civil Rights workers of the ‘60s reacted to the phrase “white power” with “Black power,” they were able to change to the sentiment of blackness from negative to positive, but only in the African American community. The white or European American community did not have to change a thing regarding color. So, today when word, black or white, is used with reference to a person’s identity, it serves to support and promote so-called racial separation and all the things that accompany it. Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, was correct when “In a 2007 case, he wrote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”That is, when we stop using race as if it is accurate and valid, we can get to the real problems of justice and fairness. Getting rid of race does not mean getting rid of ethnic or cultural differences, but it means changing the focus from our differences to our commonalities.
In a recent article, “The Emotional Toll of Growing Up Black in America,” Marian Wright-Edelman wrote that:
“Everybody in the classroom and teaching children today — when for the first time White students will no longer be the majority in our nation’s public schools — needs to be culturally sensitive and culturally trained. This is true for all child-serving institutions. We need to watch out for the subtle as well as the overt ways in which we treat non-White and White children and those who are poor differently. And we need much more diversity in children’s literature so that White, Black, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and all children can be exposed to the rich mosaic of America’s melting pot to help them see themselves and what they can be.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/the-emotional-toll-of-gro_b_5738420.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share
The primary point that this blog makes is the very point that is missed in the above article—people, especially children, do not want to be treated differently; they want to be treated fairly and justly, regardless of their ethnic and/or cultural identity. We know that the metaphor of the melting pot nation was never realized and the proof is seen in the misrepresentation of African Americans in many of the social categories of unemployment, ineffective education, and incarceration rates. We certainly need to respect ethnic, cultural, and geographical differences where necessary, but we do not need to burden our children with false identities such as black and white. If a child is the product of a mixed ethnic couple, identifying with either the mother or father would not be fair to the parents or the child. In that case, let the parents decide the cultural identify of the child, but not mixed-race or black and white. Ethnically or culturally mixed children simply want to be children, no more, no less. Race as a social identity has outlived its usefulness to society.
Tags: African American Museum of History and Culture, African Americans, American Indian, Asian American, black, black and white race, Chief Justice John Roberts, color, Confronting Myths, current-events, ethnic groups, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, politics, race, Race in America, science, Smokey Robinson, society, The Boston Globe, white
Some African Americans do not like the term African American because they believe it links them directly to Africa. Basically, what they generally think of Africa is not very complimentary because of the images of Africa that American society created when ethnic bias was fashionable. Rather than picture it as the diverse continent it is, Africa was described as a dark, mysterious, cannibalistic, dangerous place where ignorant savages lived. The natives were so ignorant that the fictional white man who ruled the African natives, Tarzan, had a chimp as a partner rather than an African man. Tarzan was called “King of the Jungle” although he was not born there and was raised by apes. That image of Africa was created to discourage African Americans from wanting to embrace it as their homeland. The idea promoted was that it was better to be a slave in America than a savage in Africa. Of course, anyone with an elementary education knows what a tremendously important Africa is to the world and its history. Unfortunately, many people still hold on to the negative concept of Africa.
How people view themselves has a direct impact on what they say about themselves and especially how they act. For example, if someone is called a thug and accepts that identity, then he will use the language associated with being a thug. In addition, his behavior will reflect his idea of how a thug acts. The same thing applies to people who identify themselves as black or white—they speak and behave the way they belief they are expected to speak and behave. Most often their examples are passed on to their children and family. In this way ignorance about race and identity is embraced and promoted.
We know for certain that no such thing as a pure 100% black or white person exist on the planet. Yet, we bought into the absurd concept of “one drop” of blood changing a person’s so-called race from white to black. When America created and enforced the concept to two races—black and white, the other associated concepts like racism, biracial, mixed race, racial etc… were not challenged successfully. However, today we know better, but keep doing and saying the things that reinforce the false and negative concepts of race. For example, some scientist will conduct studies using as subjects black and white people. The problem with those kinds of studies is that black and white is never defined. In effect, does the terms black refer to only people with very dark skin or was the term used to suggest all African Americans? If it was the latter, then were light-skinned African Americans included? Many Americans with dark complexions are not African Americans. Would they be included in such a study? If they were not, then of what value was the study?
Most social scientists and historians know that in America, social and economic status along with ethnic identity play a major role in people achieving their American Dream. Historically, non-European Americans have encountered a more challenging experience is striving for and achieving their dream because of ethnic prejudice. Since the late 1960’s more non-European ethnic Americans have achieved success because the Civil Rights Acts have removed some of the social barriers that obstructed success. Unfortunately, many of those barriers remain, but in a subtle state. Part of the problem has to do with how people view themselves and each other. When Americans view themselves as black and white, they simply reflect the ideology of America’s past that embraced two races. The terms African American and European American eliminate the two race concept and underscore the one family of man concept. When all people belong to the same race or family, comparisons relating to superiority or inferiority of race will decline. However, prejudice among ethnic groups will also exist, but not on a biological race bases. If all people belong to the same family, they can express differences in beliefs, culture, religion etc…but not racial differences.
We create problems for ourselves and our children when we send mixed messages to them regarding a so-called racial identity. For example, when a child has been taught in a General Science class that all people belong to the same race, how do the parents who maintain an identity based on color resolve the conflict for the child? Interestingly enough, CNN had a series of programs about who is black in America. Unfortunately, the program caused problems for a number of young African American ladies because they did not know who they were, thinking that they were either black or white. Seemingly, the majority of people with this problem of identity in America are the African Americans. Other people of color use their cultural or geographical identity like Cuban, Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, etc… The identity conveyed by these identities leaves no doubt about the culture and geography of the individual. Black and white, on the other hand, give no information whatsoever other than color. Even if American is added to these words, they still provide little meaning until the history of American slavery is brought into the picture.
If we need evidence that the word black is no longer applicable as a reference to African Americans, we can look at the recent comments made by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, during the hearing of arguments concerning voting rights:”At one point in the oral argument held Feb. 27, 2013, Roberts asked Verrilli, “Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?”(The Boston Globe.com) Roberts used the term African American on numerous occasions during the hearing rather than the word black. (Now we need to get him to use the term European American instead of white)
In addition to the Roberts use of the term African American, we need to know that efforts have been underway for a number of years now to build a museum in Washington, D.C. to house and exhibit information relative to the African American experience in America. The name of this museum is The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Our world and society are changing and either we change with them or be left behind.
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