Race, like gender, is determined at conception. There’s nothing—excepting modern surgery, bleach, and tanning salons—we can do about it. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we could say, “I’m white. So what?” Or “I’m black. So what?” But we can’t—or don’t. Too often we let race and gender define and divide us.
I keep hearing that America needs to have a conversation about race. What does that mean? What is there to say about race? Don’t we mean racism, or racialism, or, more likely, man’s inhumanity to man?
I am white, which means that, in America at least, I’ve had privileges that perhaps I wasn’t aware of as a child and that I may have been raised to believe that black people were inferior to me (which is how I actually was raised), but what does whiteness say about me now? Could I have changed? What can you tell by looking?
You may be black, but are you the child of an African oil magnate, here in the United States for your degree in business administration, or are you the great-great-grandchild of slaves brought here a century ago? And does even your answer to that question describe who you are and what your life has been?
What is the purpose of this conversation about race? To acknowledge the brutal history of slavery and Jim Crow? To dispel stereotypes? To recognize that power promotes itself by playing on differences? Hopefully the purpose is to heal, to make race nothing more than what it is: the lovely pigment of our skin.