Race: 1). contest of speed 2. Contest between rivals 3. A narrow passage, e.g. one leading sheep from their enclosure to a dip. 4. A regular fixed course regularly traveled by something, especially the Sun or the Moon. 5. Group of humans. Encarta Dictionary
To look at each of these definitions of race suggests that its definition has no consensus. Joining the ranks of other four letter words in our language and vocabulary that appear small to sight, r-a-c-e is much larger and cumbersome than we would like to acknowledge. Recent incidences of murder and violence in America suggest that this miniscule word is colossal in affect; and, if we continue to allow r-a-c-e to swell beyond the parameters of our control America will revisit some of its lowest and dehumanizing moments any society of the world has ever seen.
On Friday, April 6th, 2012 in Tulsa Oklahoma, three African Americans were killed and two were wounded in what is now being investigated as race-related hate crimes. Since the reporting of the story, two men, ages 19 and 32, have been arrested and charged with three counts of murder and two counts of shooting with the intent to kill, according to the Tulsa Police Department (http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/08/us/oklahoma-shootings/index.html).
On Sunday February 26th, 2012 in Sanford, Florida the nationally renowned shooting death of the 17 year old teenager, Trayvon Martin, occurred just as people in Florida, of all races, watched the NBA’s All-Star Game, and gunman George Zimmerman, walked away from the grim scene after taking a life on a rainy, chilly night under the guise of being a [self-appointed] Neighborhood Watch Captain. Moments before murdering Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman telephoned 911 complaining of an individual that he deemed as “suspicious,” “up to something,” and as a “f—king coons.”
Although the latter racial epithet is currently under debate (particularly by people looking to keep the “family secret”—sober folks know this was a hate crime), the truth of the matter is that America is a nation of addicts. We are addicted to racism and subjugation. We have inoculated our minds about what racism and subjugation mean, how they look and more importantly, how they are ripping our nation apart. We are addicts! Just as the drug addict will attempt to inculcate the severity of his drug abuse, the on-lookers already know the truth–none of us are duped. More and more incidences of crimes perpetrated by members of different races on different races are taking place more frequently; however, as a nation we have yet to have an intelligent dialogue in which we acknowledge that racism is the elephant in the room tainting (or enhancing depending how you embrace the term) all of our interactions on a daily basis. When will we finally step from underneath the veil of “colorblindness?” Sure! To be “colorblind” sounds utopian and ideological for people living in Fantasia, but the reality is that we live in America where race and racism are the foundations on which we stand. Take a look our Declaration of Independence. Not only is the race of the MEN declaring their independence already understood, but so are the age, class, gender and religion as well. One needs to only look at how the Constitution has been amended or changed to include others that were left out to realize that these “others” have always been regarded as outsiders in a foreign land. And, finally one needs to only look back at how America’s addiction to racism and subjugation nearly destroyed this “land of the free and home of the brave” during the Civil War, America’s deadliest war to date. Clearly in a war, there are no winners—only losers. So who’s winning the race White race, Black race, Asian race—human race?!
We can assert our 2nd amendment right to bear arms, but can we admit that the addictions to racism and subjugation or the impositions of these diseases places all of us at risk of feeling the need to protect ourselves? Have we ever acknowledged the shame associated with racism and subjugation as a nation? The closest we’ve come was through the Hollywood lens of the movie, Crash. Even in the movie, it revealed that we only address racism and subjugation in some circles, but they have to be discussed in all circles. Do we really think that by not talking about these addictions they will somehow go away? As much as we would like for them to, again, this isn’t Fantasia, and we clearly have a never ending story vetting to take our lives. How long can it be acceptable to “clean up nicely” when standing in front of a group of supporters in a presidential race, and relapsing into a Freudian slip towards our President? It is not. Addiction is a hard battle to fight, and an even harder battle to win. And, as we battle the addictions of racism and subjugation, we are all losers until we first acknowledge that we have a severe problem. Read the headlines. America is at the tipping point. We can kick this addiction. But, the first step is HONEST acknowledgement.