Race Relations in the 21st Century sits in a very interesting place. Millennials have been taught that race isn’t as important an issue as it was in past generations. We’ve been told that race doesn’t determine the trajectory of a person’s life like it once did. Barack Obama is the manifestation of this idea of progress. Things have gotten less hostile for “minorities” in the United States, and a trend exists that promotes this concept of “Diversity” and “Colorblindness.” The intentions of both may have been good, but now they have become something different. Diversity seems to simple suggest hiring more “people of color” in the workplace, without ever considering the assimilation necessary to obtain that position. Obviously it benefits to have different groups in all jobs and titles, but if they all have the same values, morals and principles of white men how beneficial is it really?
Colorblindness suggests that people don’t “see” race anymore and instead embrace the idea of our human connection. The motto of “post racial America” seems to be “I don’t see color and it doesn’t matter if a person is black, white, green or purple…” Its ridiculous to think a person wouldn’t do a double take if they saw a person with green skin, and its insulting that a person can’t look at me and see that I’m black. Although there is so much societal baggage that comes with skin color it doesn’t mean that we should ignore it. Race is a huge part of the human experience, and as a human being with a pair of eyes, legs, arms and ears I also have melanin in my skin. I think anyone looking at me should notice that and be aware of it. How that person reacts to my skin color is then there own choice. Another new mantra exists now that says “race is a social construct,” as if that suddenly makes race invalid. Race is a social construct, but so is the economy, and we all participate in both constructs for better or worse. These new ideologies aren’t looking to transfer power or the end cultural dominance, it is merely been used to sweep race under the rug. White cultural has still been spread all over the world through globalization and neither of these ideas are altering the effects of that. The only way we can combat these ideas are to embrace what we are. We should understand that the human experience includes being socialized and a part of a group. A person’s culture, ethnicity and experience are greatly tied to race and that shouldn’t be left in the closet. For humans to take any significant step towards diversity we need to consider one key factors. We must look at power socially, culturally, politically, spiritually and economically. As Black African people we must gain power over how our survival and our future. We can’t continue to put ourselves in this box of “minority” when black people make up a large portion of the global population. We also can no longer group ourselves with “people of color” because the Asian experience is different from the black experience, and therefore both groups need different methods towards gaining power. I don’t know the exact steps towards ending racism but I don’t think Diversity and Colorblindness are the answer we need.