Thursday, January 19, 2006

More on Race

I got a response to my previous post that lead me to believe that perhaps I hadn't articulated things clearly enough. I hope this helps.

The point I hoped (and hope) to make is NOT that we cannot learn to treat others with respect and love regardless of skin color, but rather that even though we learn to so treat one another we do not actually and really not (physically) see skin color.

I read someplace, perhaps in Cornel West's Race Matters, perhaps not, that a black person is reminded daily, somehow, that he/she is a black person. Not in a negative way, simply a matter of cultural fact (if there is such a thing). So, while you and I can (and I usually do) think of ourselves simply as people, not as “white” people, black folk in our society are not afforded the opportunity (by society) to see themselves simply as people.

So, ISTM, and this was the intent of the column, the best way for us white folk to really, honestly, approach color-blind living, is to admit to ourselves and to others where it might matter, that we are, indeed, white folk.

(I have found it interesting that it was the “liberals” in the 60s who spoke of a colorblind society, but now it is the “conservatives.” I dare say you will not find anyone recognized as being on the left who uses that kind of language.)

Some of this, I now believe, is that minorities have (justifiably in my book) gotten to the place that they interpret the call to leave cultural and racial identities aside and let’s all just be Americans as a call to give up any cultural heritage that is left and become just like the white folk.

The Roman Catholics felt this way in the latter half of the 19th century about the public school system. From the perspective of the Roman Catholics, the secular public school system was teaching their children to grow up and be like the Protestants. Was this a recognized goal of ANY of the public school leaders? I doubt it. I do believe, though, that it was entirely fair for the Catholics to view it that way.

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