But why is it important?

“We now know that there is no such thing as race, that humans are biologically one species; we know that an African is likely to have more in common genetically with a European thousands of miles away than with a neighboring African. Yet this knowledge has not deterred the racism many Europeans continue to harbor toward Africans, nor the wariness Africans harbor toward Europeans.”

If race is such a chimera, why would it need to persist as a concept that divides us. Surely, both ‘harboring’ racist and ‘wary’ minorities would find that they don’t have much separating them if they’re convienced of the truth of the non-existence of race. If I had it my way, we’d be shouting from the rooftops that there is no scientific evidence for anything resembling race. “ITS NOT REAL! BELIEVE THE WORLD IS FLAT? THEN BELIEVE IN RACE. OTHERWISE, GET OVER IT!”

Perhaps I’m being logical rather than visceral; a dichotomy I’m not sure I understand. Logic is as innate to humans as is their tendancy to distrust and vilify ‘others’. We just don’t like ‘others’. Of course, people have more than skin color (the least meaningless definition of race) to help them define ‘otherness’. There are many examples in history: religion, territory, language, economic standing and many others have all created divisions between people. None of these differences couldn’t be overcome.

Also, why do we keep talking about ‘race’ and racism when the real issue is ‘black vs. white’. The ‘race issue’ has been overcome by many groups in the US: the Irish during the turn of the 20th century and Asians now. Latino’s also don’t show as much fission between them and the rest of society. Only the ‘black community’ persists in its need to maintain its distance from the rest of us.

Of course, I’m not attempting to deny anyone their right to congregate with any group that they see fit. I’m simply saying that the race issue, the black vs white issue, persists because of racism AND the strong desire of the members of the ‘black community’ to remain separate from the rest of society. You can’t get rid of the race issue without getting rid of BOTH of these causes.

Oppisition to prop 54 and “racial conservativism” stems from fear of losing a sense of ‘black community’ and not from any grounded attempts to reduce or eliminate racism.

Where I grew up, there was a Portuguese festival and Danish festival every year. Each of those groups felt a strong sense of community. My family are Swiss imigrants, but there were no Swiss festivals. Without my own festival, I paricapated in Danish dancing at their festival (much to my Grandfather’s chagrin). While these groups keep distinct identies (both internally, the festivals and various clubs, and externally, we used to make pretty raw jokes about the intelligence of ‘Portagese’), there were no meaningful divisions between those two groups and any of the other members of my small town. They were able to keep a sense of community without making themselves outsiders. What stops the black community from doing the same? Why isn’t there a Black festival and why can’t I do some Black dancing?


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