Is that really helping the racial divide in America?
If you have paid any attention to the news in the last few years, you would be able to tell that there are still some significant issues pertaining to race playing out all over the United States. From actual problems with police brutality, to people’s racial sensitivity and looking for a reason to call someone or something racist, real racism seems to be playing out in a major way in these United States. Look no further than last week. A congressman who desires to see Trump impeached has revealed that he has been receiving death threats and called racial slurs.
It is without a doubt that since its founding, our nation has dealt with racism. However, it can be a bit shocking and unnerving to see its existence in today’s times. Why? Because this is the same nation that has seen its first African-American president in the White House. In addition more and more people are involved in biracial and multiracial relationships. It is contrasting to see the ways that racism has emerged as Americans have become more evolved and more accepting towards differences in physical appearance and economic status since the days of segregation.
The reality is obviously different. At the same time, racial issues still abound because some hold so tightly to their skin color too. As long as one’s skin color (and, at times, the cultural ideas that come with it) is elevated to a point of self-believing superiority, then, of course along with other factors, we will never be able to completely move past the scars of racism.
With this in mind, I recently read a piece from the Associated Press on March 17, 2017 regarding African-American students at Harvard University creating their own graduation ceremony to “recognize the achievements of black students and faculty members some say have been overlooked.” My initial reaction after reading the article was, “Is this really helping the cause?” The African-American students are getting a graduation ceremony organized for themselves? I can respect the idea of wanting to give someone recognition when it is deserved, but why just for African-Americans? Would it not be better to argue and encourage the administration to look at the achievements of those African-Americans at Harvard that have been successful? The article does not say how the students went about getting their achievements recognized before they started organizing the graduation program. Shouldn’t a person want their achievements to be recognized in an audience that includes more than just the people that look like them or have similar beliefs to them?
When I was a child, my parents put me in an extracurricular group for black students and in my freshman year of college, I was a part of a group called “Black Males with Initiative.” Those groups were and remain a positive impact on me, and I am grateful for having been in them. I can understand that minorities may feel a deep connection with others with similar history, background and, possibly, struggles. So as a result they join groups where they feel a part of something that caters to their “experience.”
However, there comes a point that those African-American students will have to join the workforce with people of different backgrounds and skin colors. Organizing a separate ceremony may have its positives, but it is not in tune with reality. If my brothers and sisters of a different lifestyle or ethnic group continue to have separate ceremonies and separate groups, then how can we truly come together as an American people understanding each other’s struggles and experiences?
At some point, in a not-too-distant future (I hope), all groups of Americans will have to decide: if unity is a greater good, then that which continues in disunity is of no good for any of us. Therefore, obtaining unity amongst ourselves must become a priority for all and established by our acceptance of being different and, ultimately, our love of being American above all. Remember e pluribus Unum anyone?
Originally published on The Daily Nerv – May 22, 2017