The year is TwoThousandThirteen. Our president is named Barak Hussein Obama, and he is black. At least that is, if you were to ask almost anyone, that would be their answer. Technically they would be incorrect, but this commentary isn't about the validity of a man made up of 50% caucasion, 43.75% Arabic and 6.25% African Negro calling himself 'black'. (But if everyone insists on reveling in the idea of a black president... I will gladly indulge the concept.)
It is instead, about the fact that we can have a 'black' president in this country and yet so many of our own citizens cling to their claim that as blacks they are oppressed and somehow not given the same opportunities as other races. It is also about the unintentional ways that well meaning people actually perpetuate the idea that some races are somehow inferior to any main stream section of society. These, the very people who feel they live under a lable, who have the most to gain or to loose by way of society's perceptions.
When I fill out my census survey I check Caucasion. I could check Native American, but I wasn't raised on a reservation and I know nothing of the traditions of the Cherokee people of which I am 1/8th. So I'm just a white girl in America. And maybe I don't know what kind of frustrating path I would walk if my feet were less pale.
But from my perspective... the citizens of this great country fell in love with and voted for a black president. Is there any higher accolade for any...ANY American citizen to have bestowed on them? Is there any higher office, any position of greater importance than the Presidency? What more can this country do to collectively say, 'We are not racist.' And to once and for all claim genuine color blindness as a whole, or in the very absolute least... as a majority?
Leading up to the election of a 'black' president, the path has been well paved by extreme successes of countless black Americans. How can we deny that many of Americas most famous citizens are black? You know the names and will never forget their awesome accomplishments: our highest paid atheletes, our highest grossing entertainers. When people called Michael Jackson 'The king of pop', the rest of America said, 'You bet!'. When Colin Powel became Secretary of State, America rejoiced to have the honor of being served by a four star general. I could go on and on about the embracing nature of this country despite what many black politicians and black celebrities try to convey. But what more do we need to proclaim, that as a whole, this country's race issue is dying on the vine?
Sadly, some are trying to keep it alive, and insist that they- as famous as they are, as high a position as they have- are somehow victims. They insist on using their fame and position of importance to tell people that everything is about race. Every time something goes a certain way that's not their way, it's because of rascim. It seems that the only (and the very blatant) mentions of racism are brought up by those who are most bitter about it and who insist that everything is a result of it. Though Twitter and other social media outlets are the favorite platform for these kinds of rants and ramblings, many other well meaning folks also perpetuate the idea of inequality. Take for example a comment made by Christina Aguilera on The Voice: a new and (IMHO) improved version of American Idol where contestants sing and are passed onto the next level of competition initially unseen, based on talent alone. After being impressed by a Latino contestant, Christina Aguilera commented to her that she has 'made Latinos everywhere proud'. I can't help but question why- why was it not just a wonderful performance because it was a wonderful performance? Why does the girl being talented make all Latinos proud? To me that's like saying, 'Because you are Latino I wouldn't have expected you to be that great. But you were great, AND you are Latino... That's amazing!.' The girl should have been proud because she did a great job... not because she was a Latino who did a great job as though it were such a rare and unexpected thing. This is unintentional racism coming straight from the mouth of a Latino, and is a negative and detrimental way of thinking in the past.
It's comments like this that are meant positively and are on the surface seemingly innocuous, yet thus, all the more dangerous. Equality comes from stripping away the things that make us different to the core of what makes us human- something we all share. Sharing, not individualizing...that's what makes community. While it's great to celebrate our personal individualisms, let us not point them out and use them to ligitimize a victim mentality. Generations of immigrants have adorned America's shores proclaiming that here they can be anything they want to be. Having come from TRULY oppressed origins, they knew the difference between oppression and freedom. They knew that if they wanted change in their lives, change for their children and future generations, they had to take action and make those improvements in their life themselves... not choose to take on a victim's chains and go on public rants about how racist every one else is when you yourself are the one holding onto and insisting on racism's past; and instead do the hard work, make the sacrifices and attitude adjustments that most of the rest of the country already has. They knew complaining, anger and bitterness were not going to raise them up.
It is said that perception is reality. If this is true it can also be said, the only one holding you down is you yourself. And, that a better outlook on your situation can greatly improve it. But some people don't want it to improve because then they will not be able to claim or reap whatever rewards or excuses being a victim will get you. There will always be those who want to be victims and thus always will be. Some people will always believe that even if you share their skin color, you aren't legitimate if you aren't 'down for the struggle.' This way of thinking completely devalues every single accomplishment ever made by one of a darker skin color. I don't understand choosing to be a victim- letting the few ignorant among us dictate your satisfaction in life. What is gained by clinging to your right to be a victim? Take off the victim diapers and put on some boxers. Fight for a better future and not the right to live in the past.
It may have brought solace to an indignant slave in the days of black slave owner Anthony Johnson (look it up) - but the President of the United States is black. It's time to find another excuse for the ills of your community.
And like I said, maybe because I'm just a white girl I will never really understand. Which reminds me... I sure did get picked on and made fun of for being a pale skinned, freckel faced, buck toothed redhead. Being poor and from a broken home didn't help. Maybe that's why I never amounted to much. It's everyone else's fault and nothing I could have done anything about. Poor me.
Hmmm.... is there a government program/ reparation type thing for that?