We live in a country that has made major strides over two centuries to move forward from the archaic viewpoints of the past. From a time when people were used as beasts of burden to a modern world where every person has inalienable rights, the United States is at the forefront of liberty and is one of the most free nations on the planet. There are still many problems to solve, but perhaps the most puzzling issue that still exists today is the rampant fixation on race that still persists in our culture.
One would think that after the Civil Rights Movement peaked in the 1960’s we would be eager to move past discussions of race and start seeing past the color of our skins, but no one seems willing to put it aside. There seems to be a morbid fascination with comparing ourselves with each other based on what we look like. It doesn’t seem to matter what a person does; our viewpoint of an individual seems highly predicated on what cultural background they hail from.
At least, this is certainly the case in the “main stream” of society. They can’t seem to get enough of grouping us into neat little categories based on pretty colors. It seems that getting any more complicated than that is far too difficult for such simple minds to grasp. We call our country a “melting pot” because we are such a mix of different cultures, but apparently the people who are supposedly leading our country have an impulsive need to categorize us like biologists classify animals.
Perhaps that is part of the problem though. We are fairly unique in the world when it comes to the diversity of our population. Virtually every other country has a singular culture that has developed in isolation over time. Countries like China or Iran or Venezuela are all monocultural, and it is easy for them to ignore a concept like race most of the time because they are all the same. Maybe it is because we have so many different people with different backgrounds and different ideas that we struggle to put this arbitrary classification system behind us. It’s easy to see past skin color when you’re all the same.
Unfortunately, we will have to put in the hard work to get past these unreasonable prejudices that continue to plague our society. This means we need to adopt an attitude that removes race from consideration in all aspects. The most logical assumption that can be made is that race continues to be an issue because we allow it to be. We continue to put up with people who keep dredging the issue back up. It is only when we stop fixating on something that it finally starts to truly fade away.
That doesn’t mean we should forget the past, however. Things like slavery and discrimination are terrible things that should never be repeated, and American history has a lot of blood and dirt included in the amazing things that we’ve accomplished. We should never forget what happened and the people who pushed us forward, but at some point we need to decide as a people that we will no longer tolerate behavior that is motivated by grouping people by skin color or culture.
Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated that his dream was to live in a country where all races could live peacefully together as one nation united. We used to view that speech with reverence and awe, imagining a world where all the children of the world held hands in harmony, completely free of the idea of racial discrimination. As long as we continue to push ideologies that include racial categorization, that dream can never truly be a reality. It must be purged from our thought processes and our attention focused on the individual as a person, not a label.
What do you think about racism in America? Why does it still persist? What can we do to finally get to a place where we stop making such an issue of it? This old wound just doesn’t seem to want to heal, and until we purge the infection from our society there can be no chance for peace. It is long past time to stop making things about the color of our skin, but instead start focusing on the content of our character.
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