I have an interesting problem as pointed out by my daughter. Because I care so much about the issue of multiculturalism and getting us beyond the silly concept of “race,” which I think is a made up “reality” we all have bought into, I write this blog and often many essays and pieces on the subject. And in an effort to make sure my kids don’t slip into the same trapped way of thinking, I try to have conversations with them around teaching moments when various things happen that allow us to talk about these issues.
Well, here’s what my 11 year old daughter said about that.
“You’re too focused on race and ethnicity.”
Isn’t that something? I have spent practically my whole life trying to make a difference in the area of bringing ethnic groups together and opening up minds of all people, challenging people, Black, White and otherwise, to get beyond the notion of race and accept people for who they are. It has been in a way, somewhat of a mission for me. To make a difference.
And yet to my daughter, who is growing up in a world and an area, where “racial” issues are far less obvious, thanks in part to the work done by the MLK’s and others, who have indeed focused on matters of “race” and culture, to think about it too much, is to make an issue out of nothing.
Which got me to thinking. Is it possible to fix bigotry and bias, without staying vigilant about those very things? Can we just stop talking about “race” and therefore it goes away? is it possible that some of the ethnic and racial issues we see, just figments of our imagination because we are making it real? Certainly that’s what many on the Right think.
After thinking it through, my answers are: No, we cannot fix bigotry without addressing it, because I do think for some, they are indeed unaware of their biases, and that is true for minorities as much as the majority; No, “race” will not go away because we stay silent about it. It is a concept too deep in our make-up for that to happen; And yes, it is definitely possible, and even likely, that some of the matters of bias we perceive or just that, our perceptions and not reality. But that does not mean it is not real at other times. It is true, we need to be careful in trying to distinguish reality from perception. But we also need to be unafraid to work to correct that which needs fixing.
I am both glad and somewhat disturbed that my daughter thinks these issues are not issues. On the good side it means that the work and the decisions her mother and I have made to make sure her world is naturally multicultural have paid off. She sees a world of Mixed people, many cultures working and playing together, and a lack of general ethnic tension. But on the other hand, she also is a bit naive about matters of “race” and “racism.” She may be caught off guard big time at some point soon.
But in the end, the goal of my efforts are to get us to a place where more and more, her sentiment is the norm, and more importantly, not just a sentiment, but a very real truth. Indeed the goal is that I and others will not have to write about or work on behalf of a truly multicultural and Mixed society where “race” is not worthy of discussion. Because the day it is real is the day I will gladly stop working to make it real, and I can retire from this effort. Until then, I will stay on it.