Two questions arise: what has maintained the discriminatory ideals and prejudices among the majority of our citizenry, and what are we and our peers doing differently, or what can we do differently that will result in some change.
I'm going to take a eliminativist stance in this post. There is psychological evidence showing that among a collection of people who are split into groups, what influences who persons favor is dependent largely on what group they are assigned. People favor their group and the other people in it. In a study of 12-year old boys who were randomly assigned to two groups in a summer camp, 90% rated their best friends as being in their group even though previous 'best friends' had been assigned to other groups. We, as a society, create this same scenario on a much larger scale and with much greater repercussions then lost friendship.
I believe that eliminating race is a monumental, and possibly impossible, task. I
do think hoever that there is a chance it could work given the time. And I believe that it is for humanity to set aside race so that prejudice and discrimination can be better reduced necassary. That being said, it is impo
ssible to ban race. How do you do it? Passing a law saying that race is not allowed to be used in everyday life is, to say the least, unrealistic and a violation of free speech. But, I think that you can eliminate the institutionalized creation of race by our government, and in doing that, persons would lose the group-favoritism they once felt. I'm talking about the Census.
Keep in mind this is just an idea I had, and I'm going to focus on the census because it's the most important data collection, and group forming, function in our nation. Every ten years, we collect data, requiring citizens to select a race (or ethnicity as we have started terming race for the sake of political correctness). The data is published, the statistics about our racial makeup in the country, where races reside, and other statistics related to
them such as income and family size, are released. This is assigning groups to a nation of people. Our government is forcing people to select a race, and then they are publishing statist
ics on those races, creating the ability for people to not only feel they are in a group, but also feel they are being excluded from another. This is a government sanctioned mechanism that forms conditions that make racism and race-grouping possible.
So, let's imagine we stop asking questions about race or ethnicity. What have we lost? Are these measures really as important as they seem? Is there is reason t
hat most census statistics are separated by race? Wouldn't other criteria for separation of people be just or fine; or why even report statistics based on group differences in our one nation? What happening is we are being grouped and pitted against other groups, compared, evaluated, told we are better or worse. Of course, the argument for keeping race in the Census is that races have different cultural histories they want to maintain. Culture is not race based as far as I can tell. Assuming blacks in America are bonded by like cultures is ridiculous. Take a group of blacks from the south and from the north and I guarantee there will be differences in their religions, family dynamics, moral expectations; even within the two groups there would be vast differences. Wouldn't a better question for the census be, what is your primary language, or what language did your parents speak? Those are questions that could be used to help our school systems better implement language. Or what about actually asking what culture people do associate with - is their family Italian, do they consider themselves of Japanese culture, or what about French Canadian. These are at least questions aimed at grouping people not by an abstract color, but by their family roots and lifestyle.
So what can we do, if we choose to take the eliminativist stance? I'm not actually totally sure, and I'm sure class discussions will delve into this, but it seems that we, as individuals, have to start regarding people as they actually are. Race is artificial and inefficient if one in mental grouping people (which is an unconscious function of our minds to handle vast numbers of people without have to relearn every single person that we meet). So we need to recognize differences, not take the ignorant stance of color-blindness. In referring to someone as an American, instead of 'a black,' is a start. dark skin is still a description, but it's not a category. And referring to someone as having African culture makes much more sense then claiming they are black raced, or African-American, which is a terribly misguided PC term that groups people of different cultures and locales, such as the Caribbean, into a one-culture race group from Africa, and also doesn't allow them to feel assimilated into American culture by reminding them in their very 'category' descriptor that they are not American, but African as well.
Well, this has been a rather lengthy post, and I'm sorry if anyone is offended by anything I wrote. Arguing a side and listening to dissenting views is exactly what I'm hoping to do here, in this post and on this blog. So let me know what you think. Would eliminating the government-sanctioned uses of race, especially in the census, allow for people who have typically been separated into races to finally assimilate into an American society of varied cultural influences?