Looking back at the “BONUS” chapter on the election of President Obama, one of the ideas that most struck me is that of a “post-racial society”. The book defines a post-racial society as one in which race is no longer a factor. However, after only three weeks of this class it seems that I am being bombarded with articles, tv shows, news reports and personal stories about racial conflicts in the United States and abroad. Clearly this idea of a post-racial society is that of an ideal society.
Here is a short list that I’ve come up with off the top of my head of some of the examples I have encountered recently:
– Discovery document on the culture and beliefs of skinheads in America
– Article about the struggle of Chechnyn women who are being forced to wear head scarves in public (NYT)
– Article about the mistreatment of Afghan civilians by military personnel (NYT)
– Law & Order SVU episode about the burning and raping of Muslim citizens in New York City
– Lebron’s latest accusations that comments made over the summer about his decision were racist
And the list goes on! Despite the fact that the United States is the most diverse country in the world, people continue to nit pick the differences between themselves and others (anyone who doesn’t look or act like them). I believe this is caused by a failure to assimilate to the increasingly diverse environment of the United States. As we talked about in class the other day, there are several steps that indicate assimilation is complete, being part of both secondary and primary groups and finally marrying outside of your own culture. But for many people born both abroad and in the United States, this process of assimilation will never be complete. For example, parents of a friend of mine told her she must marry someone who is Chinese like her and have actually gone as far as to blame me for her dating too many white boys. My friend was born here and speaks both English and Cantonese, however, according to Gordon’s definition of assimilation she will never be fully assimilated as a citizen of the United States. Perhaps Nina will marry a white guy and have “wasian” (yet another example of racial dialogue) babies and tell them they can marry whoever they want regardless of race or ethnicity to continue the process of diversification (is that a word?) in this country. Maybe not. I think it is too soon, however, to place such a meaningful term as “post-racial” on American society and to even hold out on the hope that one day we will be.
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