The twentieth century saw the rise of great influential personalities including Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a man who dreamt of a day when a person would not be judged simply by the color of his or her skin or on the basis of ethnicity but on his or her personality and achievements. He dreamt of a day when people would live together side by side in harmony. Such are the ideals that he lived, fought, and died for. It is therefore important to understand that, in order to create a multicultural society founded on equality, we must first accept the dark role racism played in America’s history and remove barriers that label and divide individuals by the color of their skin and ethnicity.
Guy Barnett defines racism simply as “making moral judgments about others based on the colour of their skin—rather than their character and actions—pure and simple. Voting for Obama because he is black is no less racist than voting against him for the same reason” (Barnett). One might therefore wonder where racist ideas come from. Racism comes from three major sources. The first one is from the belief that different cultural backgrounds raise completely different types of people. It is true that we inherit the genes of our ancestors but that does not justify the belief that people from one culture ought to be superior or inferior to those from other cultures (Caroll). The second source of racism comes from the belief that the natural and cultural environment determines who we are. The implication therefore is that if we grow up in a racist environment, we become racists too. This is a shallow argument that relies on the excuse that we are victims of the society we grew up in and should be excused for our bad behavior. The third source of racism can be described as forced compliance to undesirable cultural values that our superiors uphold. It is a mental colonialism tendency that seeks to force others to approve one’s values and heritage as being better than theirs and to adapt it with little regard to their choice (Caroll).
Much has been achieved in ending racism but Americans’ efforts at social integration have been curtailed by special interest groups that separate us on racial basis all for selfish socio-economic reasons. Racism continues to be practiced on several social and occupational levels. Examples of areas where racism seems to be an accepted norm are innumerable ranging from unofficial hiring and promotion policies in corporations to as low as school and college admissions (Scottbomb). In some regions within this country, skin color and ethnic background still play a key role in determining whether one gets a job or a place in a university. The ugly reality to the beneficiary in such cases is living with the fact that your achievement were not as a result of your skills and better performance but as a result of your race of which you had no input at all.
It is against such realities that America needs to take a stand against racism by first bringing to an end the practice of classifying people under the labels of “black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian” (Scottbomb). The practice of segregating each other in racial groups only ends up erecting barriers between us. We end up losing dialogue and social integration which makes us no different from the backwardness of slavery that dominated the 18th century American Deep South. On the upside, there are in every ethnic group many enlightened individuals who are never affected by trivialities like ethnicity and difference in skin color (McWhorter). These are people with modernized ideologies about judging a person by his or her personality, skills, and achievement under the philosophy that all men are created equal.
Secondly, the solution to racism, as controversial as it may sound, calls for the termination of activities of such divisive groups like the NAACP, LULAC, and other organized groupings actively furthering racial or ethnic agenda. With all due respect, these groups belong to the annals of history. They are best remembered as instrumental movements that fought the war on discrimination against certain people, for example African Americans. They were important at that time and had a noble purpose in the quest for equality. Equality has officially been achieved in all sectors and therefore these groups are no longer necessary today. Their continued existence only works against the same principles they sought to advance. For example maintaining a ‘victim’ mentality among their members and emphasizing differences between people not only advances racism further but also kills all integration efforts that well-meaning Americans are striving to implement.
In conclusion, the importance of valuing the diversity each race brings into a multicultural society should not be disregarded. Differences in ethnicity and skin color should be addressed positively in an effort to learn from each other. Martin Luther King’s dream has yet to be fully realized but today America is a multicolored society of white Caucasians, African Americans, Latinos, Asians and other ethnic groups. Negative attitudes and selfish interests derived from racial differences should therefore be frowned upon as backwardness. Instead let us find the joy of embracing variety in the spirit of celebrating other cultures.
Barnett, Guy. Ending Racism through Racism. 18 June 2008. 19 Oct. 2010. < http://theundercurrent.com/blog/ending-racism-through-racism/>
Caroll, Mark. How to End Racism. 2004. 19 Oct. 2010.<http://www.authorsden.com/categories/article_top.asp?catid=62&id=16377>
McWhorter, John. Racism in America is Over. 30 Dec. 2010. 19 Oct. 2010.<http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/30/end-of-racism-oped-cx_jm_1230mcwhorter.html>
Scottbomb. A solution to the Racism in America. 2010. 19 Oct. 2010.<http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/30/end-of-racism-oped-cx_jm_1230mcwhorter.html>