Toward a Post-Racial Society — or Maybe Not
So a lot of people -- even those who didn't vote for him -- had hoped that with the election of Barack Obama as president, we'd be moving to a post-racial society.
How'd that work out?
If anything, it seems that the election (and re-election) of the first black president has actually aggravated racial issues in America. If you want my opinion on why -- and you probably don't -- it's because we specifically elected a black president instead of a president who happens to be black -- i.e., his election was more because of racism than a triumph over it.
Hopefully this is just a growing pain on the way to that fabled post-racial society of the future. Being an integrated society is new territory for us; everything is a learning experience. And we're learning. Maybe.
But the Trayvon Martin shooting and George Zimmerman trial have illustrated the big divide we still have to overcome. A lot of people saw it as a purely defensive shooting -- and maybe George Zimmerman made some bad choices, but there was nothing racial about it. On the other hand, some people are absolutely certain the incident was white supremacy in action -- but even if they're right, the incident still shows progress, as it's now a more inclusive white supremacy that also incorporates Hispanics.
Another thing that demonstrates the divide is voter ID. For the majority of people, it's common sense to at least try to prevent voter fraud. For others, it's the most racist thing ever and the return of Jim Crow -- which I can't even comprehend. I guess if you have to present a photo ID, then people can see what race you are in the photo and then discriminate against you... or something.
Anyway, many people say we need a national conversation on race. I guess we're all just going to sit down and talk this out and learn from each other's experiences and grow as a more tolerant people together.
Yeah, that's not working out. Mainly, a lot of people are talking past each other. Some say we are way too dismissive of racism in this day and age, that it's still prevalent and we act like it's not there, especially those who aren’t victims of it. Others think the biggest problem is that the accusation of racism is thrown around irresponsibly, and it's now become this bogus charge against which no defense is allowed. So the conversation has become a bunch of people yelling at each other to shut up and listen.
Maybe, then, it's time to acknowledge that we're all too stupid to talk on the subject of race. Sure, we each have our own unique perspectives to add, but mainly we also have a lot of idiocy to stir into the pot as well. I've probably already had some in this column. And I think a big part of it is that no one really understands the racism of today. It's not the blatantly evil racism of the Jim Crow south; it's the racism of a country that elected a black president thinking that would solve everything. It's a weirder, sillier racism that none of us quite understand well enough to discuss intelligently. So I'm going to propose a new tactic: Instead of a national conversation on race, let’s try a national shutting up on race.
It's a relatively simple idea. We all just never mention race and do all we can to not think about it. Theoretically, that's how society should be in the future. No one will mention race, because what's there to say about it? "Of course you don't make judgments based on the melanin in one's epidermis. That's just asinine." So we'll be acting like the people we one day hope to be.