Race Matters, If We Think So: Letting Go of Races

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Bernard, the elf, in the movie, The Santa Clause, tells Tim Allen, “It is not seeing is believing; it’s believing is seeing.” And so it is with race. We see “races” in the world; because we make them “real” through “racial” symbols, classifications, laws…etc. We’ve convinced ourselves that humanity is separated, based on the color of one’s skin! And with this belief in separation, necessarily comes duality: we/they, good/bad, dominate/subordinate etc. Removing “races” in public discourse will not in and of itself quell people’s sense of separation. But given that race is a bedrock in the culture of dominance in the United States, eliminating “racial” classifications will foster unity among organizations, communities and nations. Examinations of various social/economic issues would then address the condition of everyone, rather than spinning off into divisive, distracting disputes over “racial” gaps. Consider, for example, how much more effective would have been Kanye West’s assessment of the response of the federal government to New Orleans after the hurricane Katrina catastrophe, had he said, President Bush does not care about American citizens, instead of what he did say: “President Bush does not care about black people.” And while the “three fifth clause” in the U. S. Constitution addressing “all other persons” is understood to mean only those persons who were enslaved at the time, the idea of humans as things/property was thereby embedded in the culture of the United States and has now spread throughout the world. This objectification/dehumanization of humanity is evident in the prevailing Orwellian environment of alienation and fear around the world. Therefore, to reunite humanity, we must, like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Joe Versus the Volcano, make a “leap of faith” by letting go of “races”.


Keywords: Humanity, Race, Racial Classifications, Dehumanization, Unity, Separation
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Lawrence Johnson

Affiliation not supplied
Springfield, Illinois, USA

I’m an attorney having recently concluded a 30-year career in equal opportunity. My purpose through-out, starting as Black Student Advisor at St. Olaf College in 1969 and culminating as the Associate Chancellor for Access & Equal Opportunity at the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2003, has been to achieve the American dream of e pluribus Unum. Most of my career has involved the intersection of law and education, whether as Counsel for Plaintiffs in the Boston School Desegregation case, dealing with primary and secondary schooling, or as Executive Director of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, which addressed law school education. In 2001, I came upon a book entitled, “The Racialization of America,” by Dr. Yehudi Webster, which convinced me that I was going about it all wrong. Basically, Dr. Webster’s thesis is that the “racial” classifications that I and my EEO colleagues were requiring institutions to develop are themselves the necessary precondition for maintaining the idea and practice of “racial” discrimination! In 2003 I quit my career of 30 years, and now view humanity as one.

Ref: D08P0229