Why has skin color become an identity?
I have always found it demeaning when I hear someone identify themselves with the color of their skin. It is as if skin pigmentation is the essence of who they are, that a color provides purpose and meaning to life, that it is representative of their intelligence, talents and accomplishments, not to mention, dreams and aspirations. Personally, I feel that such an identification is an insult to the human character and that to promote such, is to promote division and discord. Is it time to put away childish things or do we cling to absurdity and destroy society?
Unfortunately, race has become a sort of default way to sort people into groups. Perhaps this is because we can determine a person's visually, although I think it's getting more and more difficult to do so as people from different races marry and produce offspring. I think this way of sorting people is ingrained in our society: virtually every form you fill out has a section asking your race. Maybe there are some valid reasons for asking this: medical professionals might need this information because some ethnic backgrounds are more prone to certain conditions; educators might need the information to qualify for programs and funds.
There are prehistoric roots for all tribal divisions. Places where skin pigment doesn't vary other characteristics are used to divide one group from another. It is probably an evolutionary development. My troop/band/tribe is in competition with others for scarce things like food, water, shelter. To protect my tribe I must be able to determine which is which. That can be done by accouterments or other visual cues. Since hair, eye, skin color are the oldest visual cues they are likely the most fundamental.
Why we still do this? I am clueless. We do differentiate one group from another based on all kinds of other criteria, cars, suits, shoes, houses, offices, family names, rank, etc...but why is skin still a viable criteria? Why haven't we come to the conclusion that there is one race and all humans are part of it?
One can suppose that some value exists in this division. No value for me , personally-individually exists in this division. Who does it benefit, those who profit from it. Profit is not limited to money but that may be part of it. Profit is just as likely to accrue in the form of power. There are those who accrue power and money from the persistent myth that there are many races.
The Nazis ( I can hear the groans) went to great lengths to prove that race isn't merely some fluke of ancestral location. They scoured the world for evidence of their Aryan superiority. They wove a whole psuedo -science to prove that the Aryans of Himmler and Hitler's imagination were real.
Though we are a tad less blood thirsty about it today, don't contemporary people still do the same thing. We claim individuals of certain colors are members of a group solely based upon color not on any other criteria. When we see accomplished people do we see their accomplishments or their color? When we see accomplished people do we not see the entire panoply of humanity? A entire rainbow of hues should reassure us that there is no single, authentic human color.
Of course, institutionalized racism is the short answer. The long answer begins: A word or phrase is only a placeholder for mental images. Depending on a persons level of education and intellectual capability, the word "black", for instance, when used as a racial identifier, conjures the imagery of over 500 years of racist oppression.
From the perspective of historical discourse,when we ask ,"Why the oppression?" We are forced to state the obvious, "Because millions of Africans were forced into slavery here in America, and the majority of them happened to be dark skinned, or "black". Or if we start a conversation with, " Who was oppressed and forced into slavery?" We are also forced to say, "The African" , or "blacks".
From a modern perspective, it would be difficult to discuss any issue concerning racial discrimination without using some kind of an identifier. The phrase, "The group is targeting and discriminating against men", is a very broad brush that tells us very little. However, the phrase, "The white supremacist group is targeting and discriminating against black men", gives us a more detailed image.
As long as institutionalized racism continues in America, there will be a need for racial identifiers. But I suggest that the use of "black" and "white" should be discontinued in favor of "European" and "African": This is important, because there is a rich European and African history that has continued for thousands of years, whereas, "white" and "black", as understood today, only exist from 1492 forward. Furthermore, these hollow terms only remind, and conjure images of oppression, rather than cultural diversity, ancient technology, and great works of art.
The above sentence more properly spoken is as follows: "The Euro-American supremacist group is targeting and discriminating against African men". It is important to note that I used "African" in my phrase rather than "African American", since to the educated mind, to identify the African as a member of the oppressive group that enslaved them is insulting and demeaning. Just as it would be to identify Jews with Nazis.
Finally, you will notice that my profile picture is blue. Since I am ahead of the curve, I understand that my people, the so-called "red man" is now the color blue. The color symbolizes death, because America has attempted to turn even the living, the few of us that remain, into ghosts.
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