I am an anti-racist. I despise racism, almost to a fault. I look Caucasian, and typically refer to myself as "white", but I'm mostly Cherokee, with Irish and German and other Anglo blood as well. My wife is Hispanic (Mexican), but as some people say, "she doesn't look Mexican".
Now when I say my anti-racism is almost to a fault, it's because I go almost literally full-circle and lap myself (yeah, I talk in my own language sometimes). But the truth is, I so despise racism that my comments sometimes sound "racist". For example, I take offense when people say that this person is the "first black man or woman" to do "this or that". Or the first Hispanic to do "this or that". It may be "historic", but I personally don't find it "significant". If you voted for Obama, I hope you did it because you felt he was the best candidate, not because he could have been the first black president. (More on Obama in future posts) I was confused by all of the emotion by the black community on Obama's election. Black Republicans were bawling and screaming in joy.
Granted, my ancestors were never enslaved (we only had our land stolen, were slaughtered over greed of resources; and were given a few square miles of unsustainable land as reparations), so I suppose I find it difficult to relate. But slavery was abolished nearly 150 years ago. I don't think any living black man's great-grandparents were slaves. I know blacks were mistreated throughout the 60's, but so were Hispanics, Native Americans, and Japanese. Why is "black" such a bigger deal?
I grew up in a diverse neighborhood with Mexicans, whites, blacks, Asians, Middle Easterners, and other races I probably didn't even know their heritage. I probably didn't realize there was a difference in race until I was in my later elementary years. The fact is, it NEVER mattered to me. When you point out differences, it only draws attention to it. I had hoped my kids would grow up not recognizing a difference in race. However, the attention thrust upon racism with Obama's campaign forced the issue into our dinner conversations. I'm married to a Hispanic, so my kids are actually "mixed". Their best friends are the son and daughters of OUR close friends, who are also mixed (he's black, she's Puerto Rican), and they actually asked us the other week, "Is **** black?" And I had to get into the whole "everyone is a person; the color of their skin doesn't matter" speech. Another pair of their friends are the sons of yet another mixed couple (he's Mexican, she's black), and my son called one of them "brown" and the other "white" the other day. I was mortified.
My point in this post is that as long as we keep pointing out differences in race, sex, religion, age, or any other discriminatory characteristics, the more the younger generations notice. I believe it was the great Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that said (and I may be paraphrasing), don't set out to be the best or the first BLACK PERSON to do something; set out to be the best PERSON to do something. If you want to be the greatest quarterback to ever play football, then don't set out to be the best BLACK quarterback; you're shortchanging yourself. Be the best PERSON you can be, not the best at your race. Don't celebrate Obama's election as president because he's the first black president; celebrate the fact that you feel the best person for the job won.