Thursday, February 19, 2009

America needs to let go of past racial issues

We'll never be a truly "United" States until we can stop highlighting every single "first" for a one ethnic group or another. Some people actually appear to seek personal gain by preserving divisive feelings and stirring up past ethnic problems for the sake of creating controversy. Other demagogues continually invoke the past whenever it's convenient in order to advance their particular agenda or career (Al Sharpton comes to mind).

We make a big deal about the first person of a particular group to do this or that. Why do we have special awards ceremonies for separate groups? The first black coach to be on the NFL champion team? Seriously...? How big a deal are we going to make when the first black swimmer wins a gold medal. Why couldn't we simply celebrate it as an "American" swimmer's gold as opposed to making it about race? Is society better off having some of these racially separate awards ceremonies (for actors/athletes/singers/teachers/etc.) or would we be better of with one awards show for everyone as equals? Why not have the NAAAP (National Association for the advancement of "all people" instead of the NAACP?

Some people have a seemingly never-ending view of reparations due for past wrongs endured. However, the point needs to be addressed of just how much is required? When is enough, enough? Without such a "declaration" the end is never in sight nor is it remotely "achievable". Other groups have been wronged in the past (The Irish and Japanese Americans come to mind) yet people don't continue to bring it up at every opportunity or single out the "first Irish" or "first Japanese" person to do this or that...

Isn't the goal (or at least shouldn't it be) to come together as a nation and heal? This can never be accomplished if we keep drawing attention to our differences rather than embracing our common bonds. No one alive today was brought here on slave ships or was a slave or slave owner (although Japanese who were in internment camps are still alive) . Within 50yrs no one will be alive who had to endure or witness separate drinking fountains, bathrooms, etc.

Yes, we need to remember the past so as not to repeat mistakes. We do that with history books and National holidays. We also have great museums (Air&Space, Natural History, Holocaust, etc.) to aid in remembering our past. There's a new MLK Nat'l park memorial (adding to tributes across the country), as well as a new Smithsonian Nat'l Museum of African American History & Culture is in the planning stages which further the cause of remembering what is in "the past"...

So yes, let's remember and learn from history. However, there's a big difference between 1) being aware of, correcting, and atoning for, past mistakes and 2) utterly refusing to get past, and in fact perpetuating, those mistakes. In short, I believe we'll never truly be a "United" people until we can have events occur "without" making it about race, sex, or whatever. Let's get past Americans...

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