Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Does Racial Identification Matter?

The demonstrations throughout the Middle East, namely Egypt and Jordan, have preoccupied my mind with not only the current demonstrations, but also demonstrations that our nation experienced in the 1960s. What could these pictures have in common?




I came across an interesting article about young adults today and their desire to celebrate all aspects of their race. As a multicultural American, I can appreciate the interesting tug of war that bi-racial and multicultural youth must undergo as they forge their identities. This intriguing article questions why individuals with multicultural backgrounds should be limited to identifying themselves with just one.

When I first read this article about ethnic heritage and racial identification among young adults, Michael Jackson’s song, Black or White, came to mind. After listening to the song and looking up the lyrics, I realized that Michael Jackson’s lead single from his album, Dangerous, is much more than just a “feel good” pop song. He carefully crafted a message that expressed the African American struggle through American history using key phrases like “white sheets.” Jackson went a step further by extending the victories American blacks to all races. His music video depicts a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures and peoples and celebrates heritage. He made interesting references that emphasized that no person is considered a second class citizen and all are entitled to protection and equality under the law. Regardless of the color of a man’s skin or the origins of his family, a person is judged by the content of his character instead of the color of his skin. The lines that were the most significant to me were:

… it’s not about races

just places


where your blood comes from is where your space is

I’ve seen the bright get duller

I’m not going to spend my life being a color…

Although the Jackson may have an entirely different vision when he wrote this song, this portion of the song resonated with me because he recognized that ethnicity is irrelevant; the true value lies in the individual. When people are labeled and discriminated against based on race, one degrades the innate value of others and fails to see his talents, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, one fails to allow others to teach him about perspectives and believes that may contrast from his own. In one of my economics classes, I learned that economies and markets have less inefficiency when rights are respected. If this theory is true, economies will benefit from “colorblind” producers and consumers. However, I do not argue that our society should be colorblind, but rather acknowledge and embrace the rich heritage of all within our communities by ensuring equal safety and security for all.

During Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s address to Brigham Young University students in January, she said that America is a strong nation that is continuously revitalized by the breadth of cultures, religions and races that contribute to its society. Also, in the United States, it does not matter where you came from, but rather where you are going. This is the American dream that is so alluring to so many abroad. Although the international individuals generally has a naive understanding on what is necessary to achieve the American dream, I know that with hard work and character, I can build off of the foundation that my parents laid for me and furnish an even better life for my children.

(I know I didn't tie it all together... I'm out of time for now and will edit later.)

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