Race, sex and appearance are some of the easiest ways to segregate people. Whatever goes up against the status quo, whatever goes against what the majority of the population expects, whatever it is that is simply “unnatural” from a person’s point of view will always be called into question. In this case, the topic of the report is race. Like many other species on the planet, the human race is divided into different appearances based on where they were born.
Today the world is getting smaller, a single country no longer holds one form of citizenship alone, and a person is no longer discriminated as openly because of their race. Nevertheless, this form of discrimination will always exist so long as man retains a sense of pride. If a person of different race can be discriminated, what more for a person who is of mixed ancestry?
Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above by Susan Saulny
The article posted on the website of the New York Times entitled “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans choose all of the Above” written by Susan Saulny talks about this . In her article, she covered the fact that the demographic face of America is now changing radically in a sense that there are now many more people of multiracial ancestry than there ever was before.
The article also specifically talked about the group known as the “Multiracial and Biracial Student Association” of the University of Maryland and how these young adults handle the different types of attention they get for being multiracial. On a positive note, these students finally have a place to be accepted as within the organization, no one is considered different solely because they have parents with rather colorful backgrounds. On the other hand, the reason why they had to create an association in the first place reveals just how much discrimination they face daily.
Thankfully, because of the increase in multiracial people in college, the division within the growing population in America because of race is dropping. Compared to the time of the 1908’s where the choice of racial background was either black or white (being divided into subcategories depending on the portion of black ancestry you had), even in the time of the 1930’s this did not disappear with the invention of the one-drop rule where regardless of the amount of black ancestry you had, you were automatically black. The article went on to show just how much different ancestry is now accepted by stating that in the 1970’s the choices were broader with Black, White, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian Korean and “other” as choices for racial groups. The article also stated that at the time, Hispanic was considered as ethnicity and not race and as such, it was not included in the choices. By the year 2000 acceptance of racial background became even more open with census allowing a person to check more than one race.
In the end though, the article also stated that while America is now becoming a land truly for the free, the association itself does not truly know what they wish to achieve in the long run. Some students only wish to be proud of their multiracial backgrounds, others wishing that society will not be color blind and the article closes off with a statement from the association’s president stating that she merely doesn’t want her racial background to be an issue in the future .
Readers Debate the Concept of Race by Catrin Einhorn
In a response article written by Catrin Einhorn entitled “Readers Debate the Concept of Race” also for the New York Times’ website, it stated the fact that the article written by Saulny had quite the impact on the readers . The article was about the great number of responses and comments that Saulny got because of her article. One of its main points was the fact that many readers found the concept of race to be an “imaginary category” that should be thrown out as it no longer fit in with the times.
While most stated the same thing as for example, one reader who went by the screen name ‘Olediter’, said that “The census should not even include a question about race, which is a spurious concept.” others were not as optimistic. One reader commented on the fact that not identifying your race was merely not facing reality. As the reader, going by the screen name jonjdurkin wrote “Race and ethnicity and culture do, to a large extent, determine one’s position in our society.”
The article can be considered as a quick look into the matter of racial backgrounds in America. While some would deny it, the truth of the matter is the fact that a fair skinned American will most likely have European ancestry as the skin color of “white” was only introduced to the continent when the British and French colonized the continent.
Going back to the article at hand, one thing that all readers of Saulny’s article had in common was the fact that they moved many readers. As Einhorn’s article puts it, many hope that a time will come when race will no longer divide people, but as one reader commented, “Human beings will always find a difference, real or perceived, to focus on.” Regardless of this, the article also stated that there are some people out in the world who are ready, willing and able to drop their own racial backgrounds and be merely called ‘human’ .
The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency by Randall Kennedy
The book written by Randall Kennedy entitled “The Persistence of the Color line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency” focused more on the discrimination that people get when they join politics and from a multicultural or racial background . In the 6th chapter of the book entitled: The Racial Politics of Sotomayor Confirmation, he focused more on the political uproar that ensued after President Barack Obama appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor to replace the seat that Justice David Souter left vacant due to his retirement on the United States Supreme Court.
The chapter goes on to discuss many cases in the past where the same amount (if not more) of uproar that other appointments caused in the past when the person was of different race. It even highlighted the fact that when former President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Justice, it did not cause as much heat as Sotomayor’s appointment. Kennedy explains this by saying that sexual discrimination was never on the same level of racial discrimination even in the past and that what Reagan did was simply keeping a promise he made.
The chapter also pointed out a few lines delivered by Sotomayor herself stating that she herself accepts the fact that race and sex does carry weight in judging a case but quickly retracts this statement as a crack from a “wise Latina”. The chapter also explained the fact that Sotomayor’s statement could be interpreted in many ways and regardless of how it is interpreted, the fact of the matter is that there is racial discrimination in United States politics .
The Three Sources in Relation to Each Other
All three sources had many things in common. But one thing that stands out is the fact that despite the changing opinions of different generations, racism is still taking its time to leave society. The fact of the matter remains that while there is a difference in any form in the race of man, it will always remain an issue that people will pick on and try to either use as a weapon against their opponents, or a problem to be solved.
This may be true, but as one of the readers that Saulny’s article stated in Einhorn’s article wrote, humans will always try to spot the difference between each other and then make an issue out of it where none existed to begin with. In this regard we can also see the fact that, while not stated in the same articles, the reason why humans will keep looking for differences is not because they merely wish to start a fight with someone, but it is embedded in us to try and find our own identity as the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association would prove in Saulny’s article .
These students were looking for a place where they are accepted without question and their own identity questioned by no one but themselves. People are also proud of who they are as the article of Saulny would show. Just as much as the reactions of its readers would also prove in Einhorn’s article. Some people are ready to let go of racial differences while some accept that this should come to pass, but never will. Kennedy’s book in turn also proves the fact that racism, while frowned upon, has spread to every façade of society that even politics has not escaped its grasp. Even in a field where the merit of placing someone in position because of their skill and not because of their ancestry, the ancestry of a person is still questioned.
Another point where all three sources converge is on the idea that as time goes by, the diversity of racial background will keep growing and as a person’s background keeps growing, the chances of racism ever disappearing keeps getting slimmer. The reason for this is the fact that while the world may become more accepting of racial diversity, a person with a ‘pure racial background’ will become even rarer. With that rarity, the person will become even prouder of their ‘pure background’ and will find others who feel the same.
This hypothesis of what may eventually happen is simply derived from the reverse application of what all three sources talk about. Right now the minority is being discriminated, but the same thing will also happen when the majority now, becomes the minority later. This idea can also be derived from the fact that a person is never willing to go down without a fight. If and when a person is on the receiving end of discrimination, they will never simply accept it, and they will always try to find a way to fight back just as Saulny’s article proves .
While this fight may not be violent in nature, it will still exist as people will try to turn what society perceives to be their weakness into their strength; just as what people with a multiracial background are trying to do know. While this may be true, the replies in Einhorn’s article proves the fact that people are also hoping for a day when racial background will no longer be an issue, and that people are willing to make it happen as they know that this discrimination merely stems from misunderstanding and the misplaced feeling of superiority that society can at times exhibit.
The three articles also take an interesting look at the future in an indirect manner. All three articles focused on what was happening in the present, but all three articles also had portions that talked about the growing change in the county’s ancestry. Einhorn’s article even stated that aside from commenting on Saulny’s article, many readers also sent data about their family tree which had a very diverse ancestral background . While not directly set as a question, a person reading the three sources cannot help but ask if one day America will no longer be a land filled with Americans with only one lineage.
The reason behind this is the fact that Americans who are “white” were never natives to America in the first place. The fact of the matter is that America began as a colony of the British Empire and only broke of some three hundred years ago. Thus, the possibility of their race to come from solely British settlers alone is highly unlikely. In fact, the only people who truly have a chance of claiming that they are ‘pureblooded’ Americans are those of American Indian descent.
Even then, this is highly unlikely as there have been many cases of immigration and interracial marriages since then as Saulny’s article would prove. Furthermore, records of racial background has never been that important before to the point where someone would actually look up to see how far their multiracial background goes just for the fun of it; thus records are scarce to the point of nonexistence and as such, no one can truly make a claim for being ‘pureblooded American’.
Another interesting thing that the three sources talked about is the absurdity of the color line itself. As far as racial background is concerned, the three authors tried to question, why is it so important for society to determine your background aside from letting you find your identity? One reader of Saulny’s article stated that it was because racial backgrounds affects a person’s standing in society . While this is true, the authors did not question this, instead, they merely question why this must actually happen to begin with.
Nature has dictated that someone born close to the equator of the world will most likely have darker skin than those who do not; people with the stereotypical “Asian” background will have smaller, slightly slanted eyes and many other ethnical physical traits depending on where you are born. The topic of racism has been a big social issue in the world ever since people started meeting others from a different continent than where they are from. The Crusades, the Atlantic slave trade, the Colonization of European countries the world over, and many other events of the past lead to people thinking that when they met the natives of the land they visit, because they’re civilization is “superior” compared to the civilization they had just encountered, they automatically have to prove this point.
It is in this sense that the authors question the legitimacy of race. It is not wrong to be proud of your racial background yes, but just because you are proud of where you are from does not necessarily mean that you should look down on everyone else who comes from a different background. In Kennedy’s book, he stated the fact that this has led to a number of ‘reverse discrimination’ where because something that was not stated specifically before, now is.
In its own sublime way, Kennedy was correct in this as if for example, a law states that everyone, not just whites, can persecute someone who has wronged them. The underlined portion of the example merely discriminates against white people as the law can be written without having to add a color to it. It is in this simple example that Kennedy showed that even the majority can be discriminated upon, it just so happened that this is not a regular case as discrimination against a minority that people hardly gives it a second thought .
In relation to this, it is also interesting to note that while on the topic of reverse discrimination, society is proud to hear people say that they are not ashamed of their background when it is full of racial minorities, but not as much when someone is proud of a racial background with a greater amount of racial majority. Here’s another example to further explain the statement. If we see a man who says “I’m black and I’m proud of it.” Most of society would think “Good for him.” But if another man comes up and says “I’m white and I’m proud of it.” Society will automatically assume that this man is most likely a racist. These examples further exuberate the point made earlier that discrimination truly is the result of the misunderstanding and the assumptions thereof of the unknown.
Had we first tried to know why a person is proud of their background, we may not have automatically assumed the worst about them. This in turn also brings us to another point of the author, especially pointed out in Kennedy’s book. Racism is more often than not the result of someone being proud of their race without any reason to be, or even worse, to the point that they forget that a person’s skill is not based upon their race, but upon the amount of time, effort and dedication that a person places on honing their abilities and practicing them in more than just a theoretical situation .
In the end though, the future will work itself out, and hopefully there will come a time when this report will simply be nothing more than a remnant of a time when people cared too much about appearances to be bothered to look deeper.
Einhorn, C. (2011, January 31). Readers Debate the Concept of Race. Retrieved April 9, 2013
Kennedy, R. (2011). The Peristence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidendy. New York: Pantheon Books.
Saulny, S. (2011, January 29). Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans Choose All of the Above. Retrieved April 9, 2013