Why I Believe In A Color Blind Society
I have been debating a colleague via email for a while. He is progressive and I am conservative. The question about race came up and here is his challenge...
"What was the Rights reaction to Obama saying when he personally identified with the killing of Trayvon Marting? Though you say you don't see color, Jack, the rest of the country does and there is a higher risk for being Black.
BTW, as I have said in past emails, I have worked in civil rights for a LONG time. Guess who ALWAYS say they don't see color? Those in organizations that want to eliminate civil rights protection.
You should write a piece about how you don't see color and how that affects your behavior and attitude."
Well, I decided to take on his challenge. There has been too much mis-understanding between us. We disagree on many issues and this is just one of those issues that refuses to go away.
- Jan. 2020
Original draft - 1/11/2020
Draft 1.1 - 1/12/2020
I have been writing for many years and I belong to a Writers Group in my local library. I know enough that often, when I write about something controversial, it is taken differently than my intent and misconstrued by the readers. I had to rephrase or reword my pieces to make it clearer. I am sure it will happen here as well.
Let me begin by saying, please take this piece as a first draft. If you have any questions or issues with what I wrote, contact me and I will explain and perhaps reword it so that it is more comprehensible. HubPages provide a comment section at the end of this article. You can send me a message and it will not be published. It is strictly up to my discretion. If something is relevant and I will publish it, if it is private or personal I will not post it.
My Average Week...
To give the reader a backdrop of me and my life in 2020, I thought it would be easier to just describe what my typical day is like.
I am retired and 68 years old. I live in the suburb of NYC, in the county of Westchester NY. I have lived here for 36 years and in the same house. I raised three children who are all adults and independent and living on their own. My wife and I are planning to downsize as soon as she is retired also. We plan to take a cross country trip to see America from coast to coast.
My typical day is filled with some house chores, some maintenance or yard work, and some of my volunteer activities. I am a volunteer at my local Archives and also a volunteer at my alma mater CCNY, serving on the Asian Alumni board.
I also belong to a Writer's Group that meets twice a month in the evenings. I shop for groceries once or twice a week. My favorite stores are Trader Joe's and Hmart.
I have a family physician in town which I see once or twice a year. My dentist is located in Fort Lee which I also see twice a year for regular cleaning and checkup.
In addition, I fence once a week and go to my club, the Fencers Club, in NYC to practice. I attend church once a week when I can. I am Roman Catholic and we have a thriving parish of 4000 families in my town. I also belong to a local Health Club where we go for some indoor exercise such as swimming and walking...hot tub and steam room.
As for social events, I am very close with my family and extended family. We get together most weekends for some dinners and celebrate all the major holidays...
I also have a monthly get together with my IBM colleagues where most of them are retired and stayed in the area. A few are still working and that keeps the discussion interesting and relevant.
We do travel quite a bit, since my daughter is now located in Irvine CA. We see her a few times a year. I also have a sister-in-law in Seattle and a brother-in-law in Scottsdale Az. Recently, my youngest son got a job with a company based in Washington DC. His office is in NYC but needs to travel once a month to DC. I tag along sometimes to visit the museums and reconnect with some friends.
Once a year, we plan an oversea trip that is about 10 days in length. We try to go to a different place each year to take in new experiences. It is part of our retirement goals to see the world.
Why I don't See Color...
Getting back to the topic of discussion. My friend challenged me to explain how I live my life color blind. He is all about race and claims that America is still a racist nation.
I think of America as a melting pot of many nationalities and religions.
In all my daily activities, I interact with all sorts of people. As you can imagine, they are all races, all creed and sexual orientations. I don't let people's skin color affect my thinking. I deal with each person as a unique individual. Just to give you a few examples. My family Dr. is a Korean America. Our parish priest is of Italian descent. My neighbors are two Jewish families, one Italian, one Japanese and one Muslim family. We all get along fine and help each other in the summer with landscaping ideas and in the Winter with shoveling snow...
In my fencing club, we have people from all races and backgrounds. Where I volunteer in the CCNY Archives we see students of all races and creed. Though traditionally when I was attending the school, it was mostly Jewish. Now, our student population is 30% Asian and 30% Hispanic and 20% black and the rest a mixture of international representation.
In my health club, there seems to be a high number of Russian or Ukraines.
When I go visit my step mom in Queens NY, her neighborhood is full of Asians and Indians.
I live my life color blind because I don't let a person's skin affect my opinion. I judge a person by what they do or say.
I am this way probably since college. Our varsity fencing team is as diverse as it can be. When I worked at IBM Research, we were surrounded by nationals from all over the world. Of course there are stereotypes. We sometimes make fun of each other but it was never done in jest.
So, it was natural for me to live a color blind life.
Why Most People I know Don't Either...
The truth is, most other people I come across is just like me. They don't let race dominate their thinking or daily life.
Perhaps, one explanation is I lived in a bubble. I am not your average American. I have a nice house, live in a nice neighborhood and drive a nice car...
Yet, not everyone I come across is that way. I see waiters, and janitors and landscapers, and painters and auto mechanics and grocery clerks and office workers and professionals...students...
These are your regular Americans.
Where Race Does Show Up...
The truth is I don't live in a bubble. Race does raise its ugly head once in a while. Here are five examples.
2. Nightly news - police shootings
4. Colin Kaperneck...
5. Election time
CCNY - Last September, I attended the annual CCNY Alumni meeting and there were some awards given to various individuals. This year, there were about 5 awards and all the recipients this year happened to be women. In addition, some were minorities. In one of the acceptance speeches, the person raised the point that there is still a lack of diversity on our campus. Despite all the gains made in the past 50 years, she is not satisfied. I was shocked. If CCNY in 2019 is not diverse enough, when will it ever be enough. Our student population is 30% Asian, 30% Percent Hispanic, 20% Black...
I am not sure where she is coming from but this is the type of stuff that turns people off to race related complaints.
The News - In some news reports, whenever there is some incident like a shooting especially by police, and if the victim is black, it is reported with extra zeal. Why? The police, from what I can tell, for the most part are just doing their job. Some officers are themselves black. It does not seem to matter. The reporting is always against the police for using deadly force, even when it is justified.
BLM - That is the whole basis for BLM group who protests against police killing of blacks. Their premise is that our whole police departments are racist and out to kill blacks. Never mind that in most cases, the shooting are justified. In the few cases when the police did wrong, they are charged and punished in a court of law, as it should be adjudicated. Not decided by public opinion.
Colin Kaepernick and the NFL - This one rubs me the wrong way. This guy who has benefitted financially from playing in a professional sport decided to use his position to protest against the racist America. He takes a knee during our National anthem in a football event. This is just so wrong on so many levels. I get the first Amendment and he has a right to voice his opinion. However, there are limits to those rights. He is an employee of the NFL. He needs to abide by their rules while working. On his own time, he can protest all day long. There are many other ways he could have done as a positive roll model. I give the example of Peter Westbrook, the Olympic fencer. He started a foundation to help inner city kids learn the sport of fencing. He single handedly has help thousands of inner city youth avoid the trappings of a bad environment and excel in athletics which help them get into better schools with scholarships... That is a much better way to make a difference in my humble opinion. Taking a knee does nothing.
Finally, at every election time, Race becomes front and center. Why? what about the rest of the year? If it was so important, why do politicians only speak out during re-election time? So they can gin up the voters? get the minority vote? meanwhile, their lives are not changed for the better year after year...what is wrong with this picture?
In the 2016 election, my first choice was Dr. Ben Carson. He had the temperament to be a good leader. Unfortunately, he did not last. Next, I supported Ted Cruz. He came close but lost out to Trump. I decided to sit out the election at least on the top ticket. I voted for local candidates and chose not to vote either Trump or Clinton.
Still I predicted a Trump victory. I was among a small minority that saw the writing on the wall. Since being elected, Trump has convinced me he was the right choice. The attack against Trump by the media is unprecedented. That is why I decided to come out and defend Trump. His policies and accomplishments convinced me he would be a great leader.
What Would You Prefer?
I prefer a color blind society. I choose to ignore the wrongs of the past. Not just the wrongs against blacks in slavery...but the Japanese during WW2 with interment, and Chinese railroad workers during the 1800s, and Jewish immigrants post WW2 and the Irish and the Italians...
It serves no purpose in 2020 to remind people of those things. We have been through it and we have passed legislation to make things right with regard to equal rights and civil rights and all forms of discrimination...
If there is a new law that can improve things, let me hear it. If it makes sense, I will support it.
The way I see it, hate crimes is no different than any crime like murder for example. We have laws on the book against murder. Does that end all murders? of course not. When it does occur, we arrest the perpetrators, take him to court and prosecute and if convicted of the crime, he will be punished by going to jail or worse. That is how we deal with murder. That is also how we should deal with hate crime.
There is no law we can enact that will eliminate hate or bigotry.
How Will We Ever Get Over It?
I ask this of my friend...in an earnest way. If we refuse to accept this, what is the alternative? When will we ever be free of the sins of the past? Because what is done is done. What do they want to happen going forward?
I will bring a concept from the Christian religion to this discussion. iIt is one of forgiveness. In the Christian faith, we are told to not hold a grudge. we are asked to forgive your trespassers. Not only for their sake but for your own. By holding on to these grudges, you become self destructive and that is not healthy.
My advice to all who think we are still a racist country, Forgive and forget. Let the law take care of any wrongs going forward. Be the bigger person.
Perception Vs. Reality
In my many discussions with friends and colleagues, when it comes to race, I often ask them about their personal experience first hand. They can't think of any racially charged incidents. Yet, most of them believe our country still has racial biases.
This is interesting to me. It seems there is a disconnect between perception and reality. Often, the most vocal are white liberals. It is almost like they are trying to make up for their guilt. They feel they are a better person for having these sensitivities to race relations.
In The Age of Trump...
In this age of Trump, there seems to be a new phenomenon. One that is created by the left. The term MAGA to them is a code word for white nationalism. I just don't see it. Make America Great Again was first used by Ronald Reagan in his 1980 bid for the White House. He was trying to restore America from the malaise of Jimmy Carter.
In 2016, MAGA was restoring America to its former glory. It was Obama that wanted to transform America and reduced our influence by a few notches. It has nothing to do with race. Besides, America was a melting pot of many races and creeds. Keep America white was never our policy and it never will.
In the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King
My hope is that my friend and colleague will take my advice. If he has a better path, please let me know. I am curious as to what he think will work better.
Peace be with you.
I welcome all comments.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Jack Lee