by Jennie S. Bev
Recently, Detective Nate Cogburn of the Tracy Police Department arrested a 14-year-old boy who reportedly made a series of phone calls on a blocked number, claimed to be a Ku Klux Klan member, made death threats and said he would burn a cross. This happened to a black family in Tracy, our own backyard.
While it might sound like a teenage prank, the message is chilling and shows how fragile America is, including our small-town-with-a-big-heart Tracy, a California suburb.
Anything to do with race — and religion — is tricky and sensitive, including when it involves a kid. Sending a message of hatred is the ultimate no-no and will bear legal consequences to whomever shakes the interracial equilibrium.
Can we, as humans, be completely unbiased pertaining to race? Can we, America, as a society, be “post-racial”?
Raciality should be consciously distinguished from racism. The former refers to the distinctiveness of one’s race or ethnicity, while the latter is a belief that one’s characteristics and abilities are determined by race.
Raciality, thus, is inherent in every human being and is something to be acknowledged and to be grateful for, as it makes the world more beautiful.
Racism, however, is something that we all are learning to undo and unlearn throughout history, since it is an obsolete concept.
The folks behind the Genographic Project, a joint effort between National Geographic and IBM, have been collecting DNA markers to create the largest database that would record human migration patterns and ancestral origins. Eventually, this project would provide some evidence that all people from all races and ethnicities are related to one another, and that most likely every person on Earth possesses multiple DNA markers coming from multiple ethnicities.
It would prove that skin color is merely a small part of one’s genetic makeup, not an identity for belonging to a certain class, which comes with privileges, in society. It would prove that the skin-color concept is outdated.
Despite this grand effort to record our origins and almost identical DNA markers from one person to the next, America does not seem ready to be a post-racial society, even though we have progressed a long way, thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters. As long as there are race and ethnicity-related incidents and the urgency of implementing affirmative action and antidiscrimination policies, we Americans still need to be aware of this human predisposition and to maintain the interracial equilibrium.
As individuals, the least we can do as our share in maintaining the equilibrium is to see others based on their characters, but without using too high a bar. For instance, Oprah is probably seen as “just” Oprah, while others might not be that fortunate. In an ideal post-racial society, as King once beckoned, every single person is judged by his or her character, not the color of their skin.
It sounds like a utopia —and it probably is.
When and whether America or the world is ready for the notion of “no skin color” and “everybody has almost identical DNA markers” remains to be seen. For now, our admiration for each other as human beings is a good enough indication that some day America will be ready to run on autopilot in terms of interracial mutual respect without the need to enforce affirmation action and other antidiscrimination policies.
Tracy Press, February 2, 2008