Toward a Post-Racial Society — or Maybe Not
I know it's not a perfect idea. There is real racism out there, and that means we'll just ignore it and try not to be racist ourselves. Because what's the alternative? We talk it out? That hasn't really been working lately either.
Also, not talking about race will be a bigger adjustment for some than for others. Presumably, Al Sharpton will starve to death. But his will hopefully be a sacrifice toward a better, more functional society.
I think the big problem is that we're in this muddled middle area between a racist society and a post-racial society. We all really want to not be racist, but we don't know how to take the next steps (for instance, there won't be a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in a post-racial society, but does that organization even have an exit strategy?). But I think the fight against racism has gotten to the point where it just keeps race constantly in people's minds, which is counter-productive.
And I'm just speaking from my own experience here. My generation is one that everyone was going to do all they could to make sure wasn’t racist. As far as I remember, my first three years of American history in grade school were nothing but Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King. And it really ingrained in me that racism was bad... while at the same time not exactly making me colorblind. I remember there was a time when I was really young and blissfully unaware of race and didn't know to think differently of anyone, but then in school I was taught, "Remember: Black people have faced lots of discrimination. So when you see black people, think discrimination." And while that's well-intentioned, it doesn't exactly cause one to see all races as the same.
So that's why maybe the only way to get from here to the future is a good shutting up on race. We should try to be as integrated as possible -- but we should never mention that. In fact, the one place I think affirmative action is most needed is the one place that can still get away with having jobs where "blacks need not apply": Hollywood. If they're doing a piece set in Victorian England, you know no one other than white people will be cast. They need to stop that; even if it’s historically inaccurate, they need to have integrated races in all casts so that in movies and TV, we always see all the races getting along together -- but never actually mention race. Because that is what we want to be -- a society where everyone gets along and there is no reason to ever mention anything as insignificant as skin color.
So while it may be a hard pill to swallow, I think the only way forward is a national shutting up on race. I know this is easy for me to say as a white person, as I've never been as adversely affected by racism as others -- in fact, I'm a little uncomfortable even talking about the subject. I think I'll shut up now.
But hopefully everyone else will too.