Friday, March 21, 2008

Color and color-blind

I have talked a lot about race... Just to continue musing on this hot topic nowadays. When you stand up and say loudly, 'I am black,' you will draw a line between you and me. And if I stand up and say, 'I am white,' I will definitely offend all non-whites. So, standing up and claiming 'white' is entirely unacceptable. I think, it works the other way too. I think, not only whites can discriminate, but also blacks can. It is 'reverse racism', in my opinion. Some may say there is a distinction between minorities and the white Caucasian majority. Minorities tend to cling to their community for 'security' and point of reference. Armenians have their community, the Jewish have theirs, the blacks theirs, the Latinos theirs, and so on... The majority does not have to do that by sheer numbers and the absence of the need to cling to someething. They are not as insecure as the minorities. But I want to stress to you that discrimination is not confined to the white Caucasians. Everyone is capable of discriminating. And I assert that the first step in that direction is standing up and drawing a line between oneself and others. Of course, identity is an issue here. You are what you are and denying that or trying to 'hide' it is simply not possible. But asserting one's identity should not come at the expense of alienation and line-drawing. For example, if I stand up and constantly say, 'I am Russian-Armenian', I will basically separate myself from mainstream Americans, I think. Instead what I do psychologically, I say to myself, 'I am a human being generally and specifically I am an American with a different ethnic background.' That works very nicely for me. In these multiple layers of identity, you psychologically posture yourself in the larger group, not separate from the rest. For example, I really do not like the Armenian cultural tendency in America to raise children 'culturally pure' and as true Armenians. I will ask you this question, does being an American exclude you from also being Jewish, Armenian, Russian? No.

But going back to race. Historically, the most oppressed and disadvantaged group in America is blacks. History defined much of their present today. Lingering anger, insecurity, frustration and distrust against whites in general. Of course, this is by no means true of everyone. I am talking in generalities. While whites have learned their lesson-- that discrimination is immoral and will have legal consequences-- blacks have not forgotten the past... Certainly there is still subtle discrimination and African-Americans fill a large percentage of the poverty ranks... But all I want to say is this, discrimination is a highly psychological and irrational process and begins from that first step of line-drawing. My answer to this is to stop focusing on race. While 'color-blind' mentality also does not work because it is disingenuous and artificial, there are ways of avoiding this concept of line-drawing. For example, I do not like when in employment applications they still ask for your race (optional)... That should be completely eliminated. Race should stop being a factor in public sphere and people's lives. While cognizant of history, we need to move towards a future that eliminates that first step in the link of discrimination...

Race is only one of the many attributes of a human being and should not take precedence over others. I would also suggest that attributes can be meaningful and meaningless and race is one of the most meaningless ones.

Now you can understand why certain things in this contest between Obama and Hillary Clinton were really discomforting to me. For example, 89% of blacks voting for Obama, while whites evenly dividing their vote between the two...

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