Cultural Segregation, the unspoken problem in race relations
If every in the United States was placed very large room and I was lifted by crane to dead center of a room and looked down I imagine it would look as if someone had took billions of Skittles and poured them into one pile. When I walk though the atrium in Prairie State it feels as if someone took several bags of skittles and segregated them by color. I know the people I spend time around I hang out with by choice, and the spectrum displayed on a color wheel are a nonissue for discerning who I spend my time with. As far as the rest of humanity its extremely default for me to get a grasp on the reasons that people appear to be color coding themselves into groups. I should hope that in the future that the differences that promote willful segregation in populations will fade away, but I fear that there is a quota in the human condition that promotes the plague of disunity.
“For years, when I went to renew my annual pass at the United States Senate, I was made to fill in two forms. The first asked me for my biographical details and the second stipulated that I had signed the former under penalty of perjury. I was grateful for the latter form, because when asked to state my “race” I always put in “human” in the required box. This led to a yearly row. “Put ‘white’” I was once told by an African American clerk, I might add. I explained that white was not even a color, let alone a race. I also drew his attention to the perjury provision that obliged me to state only the truth. “Put ‘Caucasian,’” I was told on another occasion. I said that I had no connection with the Caucasus and no belief in the outmoded ethnology that had produced the category. So it went on until one year there was no race space on the form. I’d like to take credit for this but I probably can’t.” (Hitchens)
Periodically from about the time I started school though High School I had papers handed to me that required me to identify myself to a race. For the longest time I thought ‘Caucasian’ was identically to white. I made it though halfway into my naval career before someone enlightened me to the fact that the word Caucasian is not a color. That in fact it was a location, as a matter of fact when the United States decided to design its citizenship rights along the definition of Caucasian (or white) the people in who lived in the Caucasus tried to apply for citizenship and the United States said no and amended the definition of Caucasians to exclude Caucasians.
My formal education destroyed any possibility of any feeling of identification that I could have to any particular historical group or country. I’ve been to several locations in Europe and Europeans don’t remind me of me. In fact most of the French were disgusted with me on principal. I had an argument with a Frenchman who claimed I was a bad American because I did not know the capitals of the states in my country. Europe doesn’t claim rights to my identify, and I don’t claim any rights to use their content as a way to use as a factor of description for myself.
A character in a story is described to its reader though; what other people say about him, what actions he makes, and what he says about himself. What other people say about me, includes their options about me and how they cognitively interpret me visual. Color as a descriptive factor about a person is useful for tracking people and accumulating statics. But little else can be used objectively between humans without humans overtly or subvertly condoning or conditioning its members to segregate themselves by that color.
An interpretation of an individual or group of humans actions though the filter of color is not particularly useful in building unity with in humanity as a whole. There used to be a sign standing at the entrance to Prairie State I enter though that read "Ties that Bind or Knot: Strengthening Ties Between African American Men." I found the sign extremely frustrating so I sent this letter to the email address at the bottom of the sign.
I see this sign every day, and run this slogan in my mind each time I read it. And it stays lodged in my mind till I get to my class. My problem is that knots weaken the strength of the totality of the line; The more knots in the line the weaker it becomes. I spent four years in the navy working as a boatswains mate. I dealt with rope everyday. I've seen what happens to large ropes under heavy strain, such as a line from the a pier to a ship snap. I know I am taking the "Ties that bind or knot" literally, but if the same metaphor is applied to people the slogan becomes problematic. If "the knots" are the African American community, and then the line being knotted must be the human community in its totality. Then it follows, that the stronger a sect of humanity becomes the weaker the whole becomes. Lines under pressure do to strain snap, the more knots in a line the less pressure is required.
Personally I'm for anything that sets goals for general betterment of people.
But when I see that sign every other day, I ponder the causality between ropes and knots, and people and groups, and am frustrated.
I can understand why I did not receive a response to my email. But I just can’t come to terms with how anyone could join or form a group under the flag of a single visual distinguishing factor.
This maybe because I have never perceived that I have received any discrimination for any visual traits that are attached to me. When walking out of Walmart the Greeter turned Goodbye-er always wants to see my receipt over anyone only else who is leaving the store at the same time as me. The greeter will even flag me down over others that are walking right past. In the Walmart most of the times I am in the store I am the visual minority.
Race as a color is necessarily a factor of sight. My theory is that the blind is significantly less likely segregate themselves socially by color and that they would be a lot less likely to participate in discriminatory or prejudicial activities. The largest that assisted in the creation of the idea of race as a way to code people and identify people is sight. Sight combined with thinking creates the social drama and success we have today. If humans continue to have the capability to sight and think then will notice the differences over the similarities. When the sight of a pile of skittles hits the mind we allocate color and at times memory of a flavor to that color. When the human eye spots a group of people it sees color and attributes an absurd amount of context to that color.
If it’s possible that one day humans could attributed nothing subjectively to the color spectrum of human skin pigmentation and perceive as an objective attribute people have in the world I think humanity would be better off.
Hitchens, Christopher. Letters to a Young Contrarian. New York, NY: Basic books, 2001.
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