Defending race does not equate to supremacist ideology
Opinions Column: I Hate Writing
Race can be one of the most awkward conversation topics to discuss, even within a diverse setting like a college campus. An observation that presents itself as peculiar because college-level education represents a setting of higher learning, and thus higher perspective. I mean, the discussion of race and its effects in our respective communities will generally always present itself as a slippery slope, especially when the conversation is being had between people of different races. But even as a slippery slope, I would suspect that any general analysis of this topic could be handled with some of the same perspective that lends itself as commonplace at a college campus. It is safe to say that this has not been my experience in my time here. It does not take any college course to develop a viewpoint on race relations in your immediate vicinity, having open eyes and life experiences that mold how you perceive events allows you to do this.
So what has made my encounters with race so weird? First and foremost, I would have to say the lack of recognition of race. The famous line, “I don’t see color,” seems to present itself in many my conversations generated around race. Unless you are colorblind, I personally find it very hard for this statement to be true. But I would suspect that even a colorblind person can see shades. I have heard this statement made by a wide range of different races and ethnicities in my time here at Rutgers, and it was usually presented as a type of defense. Just because an individual didn’t want to be associated with the controversy this topic offers, they look to stay neutral. This act of staying neutral is respectable to an extent, but at a point becomes detrimental. A failure to recognize race is also a failure to recognize culture — a failure to recognize a potential background and perspective into another’s personal world. It seems as though people believe that representing a race of people makes them anti-every other race of people. This is simply not true. In fact, the assumption that because one elects to represent their own race means that they see themselves as above others is not always true.
It is understood that in the past, there have been groups that have stood for the supremacy of their race and the detriment of others, but being an advocate of your race does not make you a supremacist. The thought of advocating for your own race is so skewed now that it is often seen as anti-any another race. In a heterogeneous group in terms of racial composition, so much time is spent trying to be politically correct that I often don’t get to the end of race conversations. On the contrary, any homogenous group in terms of racial composition eventually spends a significant amount of time almost bashing another race because there isn’t a member of the group in question present to regulate the conversation. No progress is made. For example, while attending a student ethnic group meeting, I realized how easy it is to condemn other groups that aren’t present to represent themselves. The organization is in place to empower a group of people, but took a turn to condemning other groups while recognizing supposed injustice. It is a shame that I often cannot have a conversation with my peers about my race that doesn’t lead to the denouncing of another.
Bottom line, we must grow. We must grow past all of our comfortability and realize the forces within our surroundings. We must grow out of trying to look past racial issues that present themselves to us daily. We must grow past being hyper-defensive to the point where we can’t have logical conversations. We must grow past our short-sided views that only allow us to see one side of a story. Not only are we limiting the progression of our minds individually, but of our culture as a whole. One of the largest misconceptions of our time is that history repeats itself. It is almost as if we lend our actions to an inevitable timeline that will continue to replicate. We are culture. We are time. We must use the past as a lesson and the future as a blueprint to become exactly what it is we want to become. You must be proud of who you are, understand what and who you represent and use your platform to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Julian Pinnix-Odrick is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in communication with a minor in human resources. His column, "I Hate Writing," runs on alternate Mondays.