As another Black History Month draws to a close, some have stated that the designation of Black History Month itself has become obsolete because America is post-racial. For instance, a couple weeks ago CNN ran two post-racial America themed stories on back-to-back days, Has ‘whiteness studies’ run its course at colleges? and Opinion: Tim Wise: What is post-racial? Reflections on denial and reality. We need travel no further than the comments on these very stories to see how “post racial” America truly is or we can analyze this excerpt, “a study published last year said that bias against whites is a bigger problem than bias against blacks.”
Let’s break briefly for a WisdomIsMisery mini-rant:
I’m a fan of CNN. They are my predominant, but not even close to my only, news source. The thing that irks me about CNN from time to time is it seems whenever they’re having a slow news day some ingenious editor always has the genius-like idea of suggesting, “Hey, run one of those race bating news stories.”
The story generates a 1000+ comments, gets 1000+ Facebook likes, and CNN is guaranteed spin-off blogs like this very one you are reading. There’s nothing wrong with this, I guess. CNN, like most news organizations, especially lately, is in the business of making money. If they have to run a few articles pandering to our collective racial insecurities and insensitivity to guarantee their monthly page view goal is met, so be it.
However, these types of CNN articles remind me of that well-meaning friend who, while fully aware of the problem, does nothing to move us towards a solution. As you lay there struggling to stabilize the two-halves of your broken leg, screaming and withering in agonizing pain, CNN is that friend that walks over and asks, “Are you ok?”
We’re clearly not ok, CNN. Yet, while both we and CNN are aware of the problem, only one of us seems to have a vested interest in a solution. CNN’s only contribution is to say, “It looks broken.” Thank you, CNN. The bone jutting from the skin is evidence that yes, it is indeed broken but thank you so much for your keen observation.
As CNN walks off with a smug look of satisfaction plastered on its pompous face because it is more than confident it has done its part, we are left behind, our leg still broken, wondering who will be the one to actually fix the problem; instead of merely pointing out a problem exist…
– FIN –
Since the media seems to have a stake in convincing us that America is post-racial, as evidenced by the election of Barack Obama, a
half black guy – in case you forgot – let’s assume for a minute they’re correct. We shall collectively ignore the fact that America was not yet post-racial as of December 2008, but as if by a perfect mixture of Disney and Pixar magic on January 2009, when Barack Obama was sworn in as president, America suddenly transcended into post-racialness. What a beautiful story and one that you should not bother stealing because I have already forwarded a copywritten version to Lucas Ltd. for production, Black Tails.
But some believe the idea of racism is shifting entirely. A 2008 poll by USA Today/Gallup showed that 40% of adults in America think racism against white people is widespread in the United States. – CNN
This is our post-racial America? One where the GOP would have you believe Barack Obama is enslaving the white middle class? Oh, I get it. We worked all this time to establish a post-racial America in order to implement reverse racism. Well, that seems a bit strange, which is why Tim Wise best captured my thoughts on the absurdity of the subject:
Being asked to describe what “post-racial” means is a bit like being asked to describe a leprechaun, cold fusion or unicorns: we know what is meant, but, if we are willing to be honest, we also know that none of the four describe something real, something tangible, something true.
To me, “post-racial” is little more than a nonsense term devised by people (mostly white, frankly), who would simply rather not deal with the ever-present reality of racism and ongoing racial discrimination. – CNN
I took the liberty of adding bolded emphasis to the phrase, “something tangible.” I believe this is the intellectual obstruction in the road of progress preventing me from accepting that America, as a whole, is post-racial. In my personal opinion, I’m not sure America will ever be post-racial; certainly not in my lifetime. Further, I’m not positive this should be the goal, since it no doubt sets us all up for failure.
While I feel somewhat empathetic for the media abuse some Caucasians feel they are undeservedly receiving, since I recognize we’re all having it tough as of late, it’s difficult for me to feel too sorry when you had a head start in the race. Now that others have made some modicum of progress (some) of you are turning around to complain that you even had to run the race at all, let alone compete.
I also want to know if others aren’t suppose to compare themselves to you – while keeping in mind that yes, we all have it hard – then exactly who are we to compare ourselves to? People instinctively compare themselves to those at the top, which is why basketball athletes are compared to Michael Jordan, not Jordan Hill. Do you know who Jordan Hill is? Exactly! If you don’t like the burden or assumed pressure of being at the top in almost every category of merit that defines success in America, then you are more than welcome to switch places.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, many of us are simply selfish. We think our opinions are more valid; our ailments more crucial; issues that don’t directly affect us don’t matter but we’re shocked and appalled when issues that affect us don’t take precedence in everyone else’s lives; and so on and so forth. We have a “life is not fair” view of the world, until life is not fair to us personally. We claim to want equality but only in areas where equality benefits us. We remain eerily silent where inequality behooves us; be it through self-interest, ignorance, or the most likely culprit, indifference.
Despite the general goodwill of most of humanity, there will always be ignorant people in the world who don’t like me or any number of groups of people, because of qualities that are inherently impossible for us to change, such as: race, age, religion, and all those other criterion that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is tasked with preventing people from discriminating on, which, of course, people discriminate on every single day. For the record, such ignorance is not limited to those external to the black community, where even we discriminate among ourselves based on, of all things, how light or dark the tone of our skin.
To declare America post-racial, to me, allows us to declare victory and at the same time become stagnant. It implies we don’t have to progress from this arbitrary point because we’ve already reached “our” goal. This is a defeatist mind set. In all areas we strive for greatness in this country, but when it comes to race, because it is difficult to confront, the bare minimum is sufficient?
I honestly don’t know what a post-racial America looks like but I hope this isn’t it. There is too much progress left to be made. I’d hope that the simple election of a
half black man to the presidency doesn’t mean the story is over for you. This is why I don’t think “post-racial” is a relevant measurement. By its very nature, post-racial America will not encompass a make believe finish line that we can all cross, raise our hands, and declare victory out of convenience, laziness, and apathy.
We should expect better of ourselves. We will have to strive for progress every day because progress, in the pursuit of perfection, is a continuous and ever changing goal. We can celebrate the victories along the way, but we must also accept that they do not signify the race is over and unfortunately, maybe it never will be.
1) Is Black History Month obsolete? If not, what purpose does it currently serve in your life as opposed to American History? 2) Do you believe America is post-racial? 3) Relative to a measurement of post-racial America, what did Obama’s victory mean to you? 4) Is there any one event or group of events that would allow you to view America as post-racial? 5) If you believe it an achievable goal, do you think America will be post-racial in your lifetime? Why or why not?