In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was on Monday the 19th, I am writing in this humor/advice column about a very serious topic: racism. Tread carefully, Matys.
I know what many of you are thinking: “Come on Luke, we just celebrated MLK day. The only thing you can do by talking about racism now is cause a problem.” I disagree with these thoughts that I assumed you, the reader, of having. I can’t cause something that already exists powerfully within our society. Another thought you may be having is: “Luke, you are a middle-class white male. This issue is something that doesn’t concern you. You may have actually benefitted from this.” This is another fair criticism from another voice inside of my head (which I have kindly loaned you for this particular column). Yes, I haven’t been personally harmed by it, and I have actually benefitted from this problem. But as someone who truly hopes that the United States may one day reach the ideals of a true democracy and has at least a speck of compassion and empathy for my fellow human-beings, racism is a deeply troublesome issue for me.
The first thing I’ll address is the common semi-intellectual veil of racism saying that “race” doesn’t exist usually accompanied by self-defense of being racially “color-blind.” If these are your views, I am happy to inform you that if you continue reading you will learn a point of view different from your own, and learning will take place. There are NO biological differences between the so called races. The genetic variation between comparing white and black individuals is the same as if you compare individuals within the same race…It follows that there are no races. Cool, science.
But to say that race doesn’t exist would be foolish because someone’s race is a huge factor in their day to day lives in America (and perhaps even broader). If you are black in the United States, you are more likely to go to serve jail time, less likely to go to college, and are more likely to be living in poverty or close to it. And this isn’t a black and white issue; other non-white Americans suffer the same fate (Latin Americans, Asian Americans, NATIVE AMERICANS…). As a factor of our society, race and racism is real ask a sociology major.
Being white, and saying that race, thus racism, does not exist is worrisome. It’s like seeing people drowning in your below-ground public pool, and saying that it isn’t a problem because you don’t believe in the existence of the water.
MLK was a great man and the Civil Rights Movement is a vital chapter in American history, but the issues of racism were not all solved in the 1960s like they teach you growing up. The issues of the past are still prevalent today. If America truly wants to be a true democracy in which there is a true equality of opportunity, Americans must act. Remember MLK’s words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”