Can we talk about race for a moment? Yes? Good.
DISCLAIMER: What I say here, is only a teeny, tiny portion of what I could say about race relations in America. I could probably write a dissertation on this subject. But, since I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet, please note that I’m only bringing up points with little explanation for why I feel the way I do. Perhaps I’ll write something more in-depth later.
Recently, everyone’s heard about the Clippers’ owner, Donald Sterling and his racist rant. If you haven’t heard it, then get thee to TMZ and read all about it. During all the Sterling hoopla, this idea from former NBA player, Larry Johnson came up. In a nutshell, he is suggesting there be an “all-Black league”.
As a Black person, I’ll be damned if our people fought tirelessly for equality, only for us to take 100 steps back to be separate again?!
Let me go off on a small tangent, then I’ll get to my point.
For those that don’t know, I have a BA in Cultural Anthropology. So, when it comes to race/racism, I probably have a different perspective than most people. In anthro (and other disciplines, I’m sure), you learn that race is a socially constructed term. My husband said that he learned that it was socially constructed to separate people. I don’t recall learning that in anthro, but it makes sense to me as an added reason to make up various terms. So, if you haven’t thought about this before or forgot that the concept of race was formed in this way, that’s alright. We use the term so freely, we don’t give it a second thought as to what it really means.
When people refer to race, I think of the human race. We all look different on the outside, but on the inside, guess what? We all…well, most of us…are made up of the same things like blood, cells, bones, a brain, skin, etc, etc. However, due to the genetic traits and/or defects, some of us are different on the inside, but that’s another conversation. Essentially though, we are all apart of the human race. Huh, fancy that!
In my core, I don’t believe in ‘race’ based on color. However, you will hear me acknowledge someone’s race. Why? Because it’s more socially accepted to refer to a light-skinned person as “white” or a dark-skinned person as “Black”. But…do you see how hard it is to talk about someone’s race when you really think about its meaning? It doesn’t make sense to discuss race, rather, it seems more appropriate to me to discuss someone’s ethnicity, culture or nationality.
I’m not going to break out my anthro lessons here. Maybe in another post 🙂
What’s my point?
I think Larry Johnson and many, many others are missing the big picture. Creating a separate anything, whether it be a basketball league, a high school prom, or anything that could be integrated, does not solve the problem of racism in this country. In my opinion, it only stands to create more problems (um, does anyone read history books anymore). To me, one of the biggest issues when it comes to racism, is the lack of understanding for another’s culture and background. Let me say it again.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to racism, is the LACK OF UNDERSTANDING FOR ANOTHER’S CULTURE AND BACKGROUND.
Perhaps it’s my upbringing that’s speaking to me. Or maybe it’s the fact that I attended a pre-dominantly white high school. And even still, it could be that I went to a diverse college and pledged a multicultural-based sorority, but until we start to learn about one another, we will never, ever be able to stand together. Just think what this world would be like if we took the time to genuinely teach and learn about people of different cultures. I’m pretty sure, we wouldn’t be dealing with half of the issues we deal with when it comes to race relations in our country.
Learning about ethnicity, culture, etc would put so many things into perspective for us all. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed studying anthropology, because I was able to get a better understanding of people from all over the world. It helped me see that just because someone lives differently than me, eats different food than I do or believes in a different god, doesn’t mean they are bad people (not that I think anyone different from me is/was bad, but there are people out there that do…like Donald Sterling). It is very clear to me that, the refusal to learn about one another causes us more and more pain. Think about it. Donald Sterling is a prime example. The things he has said on the tape, as well as things he has said in regards to Black and Latinos in his housing lawsuits, are all things he has said because he has a preconceived idea (read: going by stereotypes) about those people. He doesn’t KNOW anything about people of color. If he had an ounce of knowledge (and decency), he would know that not all Latino people “smoke and drink all day” and that not all Black people smell. Who says stuff like that? OH, people who don’t have the wherewithal to stop being ignorant and uninformed, and start learning about people!
I know, I know, some people will always be ignorant and choose to stay in their bubble, believing all the crap they hear. It’s a shame. And it’s sad.
Let me end by saying that, we as a nation have to do better when it comes to race relations. It’s 2014. Haven’t we come farther than this? It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s never too late to start trying to do better. And it shouldn’t be just people of color trying to smooth things over. No. EVERYONE needs to come to the table. We need to stop being scared of each other. We need to push past the stereotypes. When I say I have friends of all ethnicities and backgrounds, I do! No, seriously, lol, I DO. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s so much we can learn from one another, people.
*steps off soapbox, singing “Kumbaya”*