A few days ago, an acquaintance of mine said that “race doesn’t exist.” This honestly was a bit confusing to me. Our entire nation and world are affected by race daily on the micro and macro scale. It was such an absurd statement that I couldn’t get it off my mind.
To say race doesn’t exist in our world is a grotesque statement. One can not deny that there are at the very least physical differences that we all notice, not even to mention that people have been defining different “races” for thousands of years. Saying race “doesn’t exist” is ignorant.
Our modern world has been shaped by the idea of race and strong feelings are often provoked by the same. Manifest Destiny — the idea that America belonged to the white Americans, and they had the right to do as they pleased with the natives — is a good example of this. Then there’s the colonization and slaughter in Africa and the Americas, the creation of “reservations” of natives around the world, the blood-drenched occupation of Korea and China by the Japanese Army, the Holocaust, are all examples of how the idea of race figured into our collective history. In other words, it exists somehow.
Even now, it often seems race is the cornerstone of our world. If you really believe race doesn’t matter, then I ask you to take a good look at America. Different races tend to marry differently, treat each other differently, even turn each other into enemies for no good reason. But, despite our differences and the way we treat each other, there is one thing that we need to keep in mind: you and I are both human. We are both the same species. Regardless of skin color, hair texture, body shape, whatever, we are the same species. Humans, despite coming from different regions, are still the same animal. We bleed the same regardless of skin color.
Yet, we treat each other differently because of external traits that really don’t matter anymore. We marginalize each other, we attack each other over trivial things like skin color. People made race into an issue a long time ago, and now pretending the Pandora’s Box is closed, or ignoring it entirely, is not the solution. We can learn to accept our differences, and tolerate each other, or we can treat each other like animals over things that have very little bearing in reality. He has funny eyes, she has a funny accent, his hair is odd.
Is it harming you that he looks different? Is it directly hurtful that she has a different skin tone? Saying there’s no such thing as race is pretty ignorant, but acting like a racist is even more so.