Thursday, April 30, 2009

The American Way: The Race Race - Genaro


What does the American Way have to say about race? Let's for a second, consider the tumultuous history of the United States' race relations and struggle as, well, a race. Where does it begin--and where's the finish line? Was it the enactment of the 15th amendment? Was it in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act? Of course not. Was it, contrary to what Tupac thought (see Changes), the first democratically elected ethnic minority President? What? Maybe?
The analogy, is silly, yes, but to bask in the glory of achievements of individuals or victories over repressive governments makes me feel that it is, in fact, some race that everybody involved can't fucking wait to finish. Moreover, every watching is so tired of it. "Ok, this next lap is it, let's call a winner already . . ." The rhetoric of the race is still pervasive . . . "yes, he won, and it's great, but we still have a long way to go . . ."
It is a very American tendency to assume status quo. Yeah, inequalities exist, tension exists, but we can all recongize and accept it and get on with our lives, right? Is it a uniquely American brand of arrogance that refuses to believe we're nothing but the best? Is it our perverse idolization of meritocracy? Or is it a bit of both that makes us relish in the acheivements that get us closer to this finish line? Consider an analogy of Parent and child, as the parents were praised for the child's birth (abolition?), were ecstatic during the first steps (suffrage?) and were congratulated their friends when the child graduated high school (civil rights act?) and college (Obama?). It may be easier to draw some parallels to a slave-master relationship in current times with this analogy.
Yes, it's pretty amazing that the citizens of the United States were able to smash preconcieved barriers to race relations, and a marginal decision it was not. But if there were an American Way I would like to see valued over anything else is a critical self awarness--that smashed Jim Crow Laws, that defeated the Topeka Board of Education, that took steps reconcile institutional abuse and inequality, that never for a moment rested to nostalgically contemplate how great this nation is.


  1. I was thinking about gay marriage the other day and how silly it'll look in a few decades that it was an issue at all. Who would limit a civil contract to some people and not all? But then I think about the things you've mentioned about race and how at one point granting a black man voting rights was as heated and outrageous as gay marriage is now. But with decades gone by, it simply seems like "duh".

    I don't think there will ever really be an "end" to the race race. There's always something, right? But we do keep on tackling these problems and we will look back and remember how stupid we all were for doing such and such thing against a race, all the while, living with some other situation of racism that will be overcome by the next generation. It'll go on forever, I think.

  2. We better quit calling ourselves a "race", cause this brown man is built to win every race he is involved in. Ferreals!