We live in a made-up world.
I don’t mean it’s not real because it certainly is. Our society, however, is constructed based on the thoughts of men — literally and figuratively. We know race is a social construct. Gender is, too, by the way, but I digress.
We know race was created for a purpose. The “science” behind it supported the idea that Africans were inferior to Europeans, making it OK to enslave a group of people. Back in the 18th century scientists were busy determining how to categorize people. One of the premier scientists of the day, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, measured human skulls and from there created five racial classifications: Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian and American. These classifications remained for centuries. I remember learning Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid in the 20th century — which wasn’t so long ago.
Humans love to classify, categorize and label, so it makes sense that the idea of race stuck. Race, however, is manmade. I know that concept is hard for some to grasp because race is so ingrained in our culture. If race is not real then white people aren’t superior, and this country was built on the idea that white people are the superior race, hence, white supremacy. It’s all gobbledygook.
Racism does exist, though. That is as real as you or I.
But it doesn’t have to be. We can reimagine and recreate our world. A better world. A world built on truth and where equality and equity exist. A world that actually embodies Dr. King’s dream (since white conservatives love Dr. King, his words and his dream so much).
I mean, isn’t that part of the allure of America: anything is possible. You dream it, you can be it.
This idealism and creativity goes out the window when it comes to dismantling racism and ridding the country of anti-Black sentiments. This is the country that sent a man to the moon, developed the Macintosh computer and created the Big Mac for goodness’ sake. You can’t tell me we aren’t capable of dismantling systemic racism. We are the United States of America. We invented American exceptionalism, so why are we so mediocre when it comes to issues of race?
We often talk about our Founding Fathers and the world they envisioned. I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers didn’t envision automobiles, airplanes, the internet and cell phones. I’m willing to bet money on it. There are so many things that exist today that didn’t exist when the Founding Fathers walked this Earth. Heck, there are things that exist today that didn’t exist when I was born. I remember when call-waiting and three-way calling became a thing. I remember when cordless phones were all the rage, and I remember the first cell phones, nostalgically referred to now as bricks.
I realize what I’m saying may sound crazy and way too difficult for some to comprehend, but this is a country that invented itself from ideals and ideas. We spend an incredible amount of energy on creating things, so why can’t we create a new society? We do this now but on a much smaller scale. Our culture continuously evolves. Thoughts that prevailed years ago no longer do. At one time, Black people and women couldn’t vote. At one time, miscegenation was not only taboo but also illegal. Lynchings were commonplace. We are a country that prides itself on progress while at the same time being nostalgic for days long gone. I’ll take traveling by car or plane over traveling by horse any day.
We’re all about improvement — except when it comes to systemic racism. Why can’t we use that same ingenuity we exhibit in so many other areas of American life and figure out how to remove it for once and for all? I firmly believe it hasn’t happened because we don’t want to. Too many people benefit from white supremacy, and too many people are willfully ignorant.
When it comes to ending racism in America, we’re lazy. Plain and simple.