Are We All Racist? I was watching television the other night, along with reading the newspaper in the previous weeks, when I began to make a curious discovery. It appears as though we are becoming more and more segregated by race. I reside in the Midwest, rich with a large and racially diverse community. What caught my eye in the media are the new business developments for defined ethnic groups and race specific festivals and events. I will begin by saying that I am not of any specific racial group, but a true “Heinz 57” American. I’m positive there are many like myself that don’t fit into any ethnic group and only call themselves Americans. Hopefully, I will be able to identify a new source of rationale to an old quandary. My first discovery began with our local news coverage announcing a new project development in our “Asian American” community. The idea is simple, turn one area of our city, predominately Asian, into something resembling San Francisco’s “Chinatown.” The entrance will display a beautiful dragon crested gate upon arrival into the Asian community, with all of the new building construction appointed with traditional Asian symbolism. This project will be beautiful and magnificent, no doubt about it. In my opinion, this beautiful area of our city alienates the rest of the population. It sends a subliminal message to potential property owners and business owners, not of Asian descent, to search for other home or business options.
Feeling invasive, or out of place, is not something most people are eager to experience, especially when it’s clearly identified as “Asian.” Not that anyone will necessarily be an intruder to this area of the city, the purpose of the development is to draw new retail business, but this type of expansion might as well be the “Great Wall” to other races in our community. The next discoveries are based on festivals. Extensively advertised by the media are ethnic festivals/shows/parties, including; Octoberfest, Hispanic Art and Mariachi festival, Greek festival, Red Earth festival (showcasing American Indian culture and arts), Martin Luther King parade and celebration, and other categorical ethnic events. Would these be considered separatist events? I have attended many of these celebrations and for the most part I have had an enjoyable time, even though it was out of my comfort zone. I will admit that I have always visited with a friend of “pure” lineage to each cultural event.
I have learned that every experience enhances ones ability to understand, and for that I cherish my education on life, however, from the outside looking in, it appears that these exclusive events are much like a “breed show.” In other words, it would be difficult for an alley cat to show up at an AKA cat show and expect to fit in with any pedigree, or dog show if you prefer dogs. One note, I am only making an analogy, not accusations to any background. My final thought provoking curiosity is with ethnic beauty pageants. I know it sounds a bit trivial, but almost every ethnic group has their own ideal representation of their female population. I believe ethnic pageants scream blatant racial prejudice. Here are my questions: Is it possible for a Jewish woman to enter the Miss Black America? If she were allowed to enter, would it be fair? Almost every ethnic fellowship has its own exclusive pageant, with the exception of the group lumped into Caucasian. Lets face it; you will never see a Miss White America without an uproar. This certainly is something to think about. I was raised to believe that we are all Americans, and it seems as though we are losing our American identity. With all the “political correctness” forced upon our society today, shouldn’t we take a step back and view what this new type of identity is really about, and call it by its first name – Prejudice.
I won’t take anything away from past minority leaders, they did fight to become recognized in society, but I wonder if the present leaders have gone to far. My suggestion is to drop the prefix, or ethnic referral, to simply American. For example, African American, Hispanic American, Irish American, Italian American, and “your group here” American, should be referred to as simply “Americans.” For the most part, many of these “ethnic Americans,” with the exception of “Native Americans,” have never held citizenship, or for that matter, lived in the country they claim as their identity. My thought is to know about your own heritage and learn about others, without forcing a label. This is inclusive to our fellow Americans being profiled as terrorists, who certainly don’t deserve such a broad based affiliation. Moving forward and creating our own American future as a whole, without labels, should present importance for future generations. Is it our nature to seek likeness and race specific identity for ourselves, or is it bigotry?