America is built on a lie. The lie that race exists.
Most people in this country still believe that a difference in skin color is equal to an actual biological difference in race. And even worse, that such a difference can explain certain behaviors. This is scientifically false of course. But you wouldn’t know that to hear people speak on the matter. When it comes to race in America, most people lack the fundamental truth needed to tackle the issue properly – the knowledge that there’s only one race – human.
Ordinarily, I think the idea that a person’s skin color could predict their behavior would be seen as ridiculous. In a vacuum, it would sound as dumb as saying that all tall women are violent. Or that bald men make better athletes. Or that children with asthma lie more. Unfortunately, we tend to believe things that are just as stupid in the race debate; because it’s what we’ve been taught our entire lives.
Years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison, was a guest on the now-defunct “The Colbert Report” and the conversation drifted into race in America. To this day, she delivered one of the best summations on the subject I’ve ever heard. Simple, sweet, succinct – I think about it all the time.
(NOTE: The entire conversation is hilarious and wonderful, but at the 4:35 mark in the video Morrison discusses the topic directly.)
Morrison says it clearly – race is a construct. And like anything constructed, it’s built with barriers, order, permanence in mind. In other words, the divisions created by racism trap everyone who dwells there. Not just the people of color it most actively aims to oppress.
It’s a simple fact, but one that most white people still have trouble accepting or even acknowledging. It’s also a fact that, now more than ever, they need to get hip to if they want America to become a better place. A fairer place. A place that pays them well.
White people need to listen up…
If you don’t care about racial equality on behalf of the minorities in this country, then you need to start caring about it on behalf of yourselves.
Until you get over your prejudices and come together with the rest of our diverse working class, your wages will continue to get lower. You will continue to lose your homes. Your retirement will move further and further away until it completely disappears.
It will be no better for your children either. Their quality of education will decline. Their job prospects will grow more dire. Their air and water and the land they live on will become more polluted and untenable.
And the world will be filled with anger. Not just at the country and its leaders, but at you, for allowing such a faulty concept like racism to get in the way of solving real problems. It’s an anger that will tear families apart. Not through force this time, but through feeling.
This is the great con that is racism. It gives you an empty sense of superiority that doesn’t actually make your life better. It keeps you from coming together with those like you to fight the real enemy. The ultra-rich, corporate leaders of this country who couldn’t give a single fuck about you. Who see you as less than. Pieces of trash worthy of no help, no consideration, or care.
What you’ll find is a class of people so far removed from the average American that they are no longer able to empathize with them. Their lack of contact allows them to stereotype, dehumanize, hate…
If it does, it might be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who’s really on my side?”
And maybe it’s time to ask if what you believe is actually getting you what you want.
Yeah, maybe you feel good because the Trump administration is throwing you a bone and kicking out Hispanics. But that feeling is fleeting, I promise. And you should know that while they’re being “tough on immigration” they’re also trying to steal money out of your 401k so that billion dollar corporations don’t have to pay taxes.
See how that works?
If you are upset that an undocumented workforce is diminishing the wages of your labor there is a way to fix it. But it has nothing to do with being mad at the people who have no say or power over what they’re paid.
The way to fix it is by pointing that anger toward the people at the top who are making billions of dollars by refusing to pay their employees what is fair. What will change something is helping these hard-working people become legal citizens so they can get what they deserve – because it means you will too. Because a united workforce will lead to a higher minimum wage. And medicare for all. And more immigrant-created businesses that will one day employ you. A better quality of life for everyone.
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. And they’re using the oldest one in the book to do it.