Race relations is a favorite subject of mine, because it is the only significant political debate that can be conclusively proven to be based on a fallacy. The fallacy is that there is such a thing as race in the first place. Imagine the thought of stratifying an entire civilization on the basis of appearance! Where is the queue for the fat, bald men? I need to get in line. The Romans enslaved the Greeks, the Egyptians enslaved the Jews, the English and then the Americans enslaved the Africans. The English, by the way enslaved scores of other peoples across the globe before their sun finally set. At every turn some guilt ridden half brain offered the lame excuse that it was “all right you know, because they’re not like us at all, they’re an entirely different race”. Race is the Big Lie, the biggest lie, the one that has provided an excuse for everything else. The truth is out now, most recently with the announcement of the Nobel Prize for genome research. The National Geographic Human Genographic Project conclusively proves that we all have sprung from a common ancestor. There is no such thing as race. What does exist are cultural factions, groups of people that share the same history, music, cuisine, rituals and yes, more often than not the same general appearance. These cultural factions, nations if you will, have often worked for their own advancement at the expense of the well being of other nations, and sometimes have enslaved them, or attempted to annihilate them. Many nations continue to do so. I believe that the media explosion can make a difference. Through the dissemination of information and entertainment across a worldwide multicultural network we may all come to know each other a little better, and realize that we are all humans living on a very small planet. While this may mean the end to the lie that is racism, it will probably not mean the end of serious armed conflict. There are plenty of other ideas that people are going to have to fight about over the next century.
The Greeks and the Romans appear to have made great strides in eliminating the animosity between them. It has only taken 1700 years. As for the Jews and the Arabs, well, at least the treaty with Egypt is still holding. In America, racism is a virulent cancer of ignorance within the body politic. I believe it will continue to flourish as long as we continue use the vocabulary of racism, and make our arguments or apologies within the framework of a racist worldview. For America, the dilemma is this. Many African-Americans may consciously or subconsciously be repelled by the idea of swearing allegiance and buying into a political and social system that in the past so brutally abused and excluded them.
I am unimpressed with the term “black man”. I am not a white man nor do I see the sense in describing myself as one. I am a Christian man, I am an educated man, I am a compassionate man, and I am a passionate man. To say that I am a white man or a black man is akin to saying that I am a sweat gland man or I am a pimpled man. If your allegiance is to those with skin whose color is the same as yours, we have no basis for reaching out to one another. The color of a man’s skin must be as incidental and unimportant as the color of his hair (or the lack of it). Men should not seek to be Black leaders or Hispanic leaders, or White leaders, but leaders of Men.
As a young boy growing up in the City of New York, I occupied a large portion of my time reading biographies of great men. Among others I read about George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, Paul Robeson, Adam Clayton Powell, and Roy Innis. I was encouraged to listen to a wide variety of music and have listened to, among others, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Stevie Wonder, Fats Waller, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, Jimi Hendrix, Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, and James Brown. I had my attention directed to great actors, athletes and politicians, among others, Sydney Poitier, Dick Gregory, James Earl Jones, Roy Innis, Bill Cosby, Red Fox, Quincy Jones, Adam Clayton Powell, Ralph Abernathy, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, John Shaft, Shirley Chisolm, Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell. Many of these people changed the very core of my being, the way I think and react. Do I admire them because they are black? I admire them because they are great. So should we all.
Cultural diversity is a gift to be celebrated, but political assimilation must be recognized as a first principal. A democratic republic cannot exist if its members wave different flags and speak different languages. Racial prejudice must be replaced with political prejudice. Racists must become the ones that we are most prejudiced against. Their views must not be heard any longer. They must be legislated against, their rights curtailed, their activities made illegal, their assets seized, and their philosophies ridiculed from the podium, pulpit, and in the press. We, as a nation, must not be concerned with which skin color you pledge your allegiance to, but to which flag. Democracy has proved itself over and over, to be the highest form of government to which humans can subscribe. We must tolerate only those who will support and swear allegiance to it, or to its allies.
Individually, we must fight our own fight against racism, and that within our own minds. It is an old truth that “what we do not know, we fear, and that which we fear, we hate.” Americans should strive for eclecticism. While we celebrate our own culture and the traditions of our parents, we must learn to delight ourselves in the culture, the music, art, literature, the food, dress, and traditions of our fellow citizens. Let us all celebrate Kwanzaa as well as Saint Patrick’s Day. More importantly, let us celebrate the Fourth of July and Memorial Day as days that bring us together as one nation.