Hopes for a Post-Racial America

I recently moved to Jackson, Tennessee for my job with Union University.  Prior to living here, my son attended public school in a suburb of Houston.  His school was perfectly diverse.  A rainbow of colors and ethnicities.  Now, he and my daughter both attend a public school in Jackson.  He is in third grade.  She is in kindergarten.  It is also very diverse.

In the evenings at dinner, we always ask the children to tell us about their day.  Two days ago, something struck me about the way they talk about the kids at school.  They NEVER mention race.  Grace has talked about a couple of little girls “who we have to help learn English,” but neither she nor her brother ever talk about “black” kids or “hispanics” or anything of the sort.  If pressed for a description of a child, they will sometimes say something like, “She has dark skin and black hair,” or “He has light skin and blonde hair,” but they never convey any sense of “us” or “them” in their description.

It makes me wonder if we were to stop talking about it all the time in politics and in the academy, would we finally enter the post-racial period we’ve been hoping for?

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3 thoughts on “Hopes for a Post-Racial America

  1. Yes, I think we might possibly. I’ve had the same thought regarding my own kids of the same ages as yours. But something occurs to me: if we follow this line of reasoning, if such a beatific vision (racially speaking) were to obtain in the way you suggest, what would self-promoting politicians and politicized university faculties have to axe-grind about?

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  3. I’ve noticed the same thing among many of my peers. I don’t normally think about “race;” when I do it’s primarily in relation to cultural differences (which are, frankly, just as likely to crop up within ethnic boundaries as across them).

    I suspect that the emphasis only prolongs the problem. I also suspect that a lot of people would be out of jobs and platforms if we just dropped the topic.

    Thomas Sowell has argued, fairly persuasively in my opinion, that the constant efforts at “improving” the situation of ethnic minorities have quite the opposite effect. He has also pointed out (rather insightfully) that affirmative action is, quietly but certainly, often still racism, simply in a more politically acceptable form. I’d be far more okay with it if it targeted a variety of equally disadvantaged groups (as it’s easy to see that the problems that affirmative action seeks to resolve are primarily cultural and economic, and that ingrained racism, however prevalent it may have bee historically, is in its death throes).

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