Race, as it relates to human beings, is not biological in nature. Yet, many Americans still hold the belief that Asians, Africans, Europeans, Indigenous North Americans and others are peoples of different races. I know this because I’ve polled tons of folks who still maintain that because we “look” differently physically that we’re somehow fundamentally different, and this is not the case.
The concept of race was invented to divide people, to justify the disenfranchisement of certain groups, to exploit those groups for economic and political gains and to normalize the idea of race so that the aforementioned activities could continue indefinitely.
It’s clear to me that we’re living in that “indefinitey,” because we are a happily divided people, with a perpetual upper and underclass; both believing that our current state of affairs is normal.
The problem is that there are no racial differences, just socio-economic ones connected to political, educational, and health statuses. Historically, those in power, such as political leaders, media moguls, or privileged educators, have exploited the masses by ensuring that ideas of normality and abnormality were sustained.
Some philosophers and historians believe that these ideas are basic to America structure. If this is the case, then the idea of a post-racist America might be just that, an idea.
We, then, cannot (not may not) ever be free of our racist relationships. As much as I would like to be free of racism, I’m not suggesting that it’s actually possible. In fact, I, wholeheartedly doubt it.
So, what I propose is that we stop lying about our racist history, both from the past and the one we’re living today. I would rather we admit that to be racist is to be American, as we founded and built our country holding truths that allowed us to take a people’s land and strip another people of their heritage. I would rather we admit that our scientists and politicians deliberately fabricated “facts” to justify the disenfranchisement of these Others for political and economical gain.
Let’s assume we’ll never be free of our racist ideas; why not try to simply challenge them by acting in ways that speaks the truth that “all men” (and women) “are created equal.” Truth-telling or realty-telling is done in language, different texts, therefore, to create a new reality–living text– is to tell another story via a new action, a new behavior that reflects a world community that respects all of its inhabitants, dare I say, equally.
With this ideal in mind, the idea for “Do Something Different” (DSD) was born. Launched in 2006, we started this initiative at Nova Southeastern University. This initiative is designed as a grassroots movement where participants would challenge themselves to “fight the power” within themselves and respond to the views of others that support the idea that we are indeed one people.
From our history we have enough data to declare what does not work. Our definition of “fighting the power” is not marching with picket signs or sitting in places to make an establishment change its policies. Fighting the power in this case is confronting one’s own racist ideologies. The same ideologies that have slain leaders and killed soldiers.
DSD was created to challenge thinking people who know that there is only one race — the human one. Today my challenge to us all is to acknowledge that we’ve all embraced many lies about who we are as it relates to others. Let’s admit that we’ve probably accepted truths about our own intelligence, social status, natural abilities, educational level and physical appearance that are grounded in many lies that have either propelled us forward or held us back.
These so-called truths are distortions that no longer have to keep us from being the one nation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about, or that our Pledge of Allegiance purports.
Our condition as a nation will not change without the everyday, intentional actions of each one of us. This is how change becomes less or a lofty dream and more of a reality.
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