May 6, 2016
I’m preparing a response to Rob Reiner’s accusation that Trump is a racist and a lot of his supporters are racists. My contention will be that HE is a racist and Hillary Clinton is a racist and everyone in Black Lives Matter is a racist. Trump may or may not be – probably not. But this was published on PennLive in 2013…
As I See It: by Joe Scotto
The Question of Race (August 3, 2013)
“We need to talk about race.” It’s an urgent message we’ve heard from our President, his Attorney General, and many others in these turbulent days.
But when have we really stopped talking about race – at, least the way race is understood in the current context? Race in our nation was, obviously, intertwined with slavery in our history from the very early days. Gradually, as early as the 1600’s, the institution of African slavery developed. African slavery became entrenched in the American colonial South because of the needs of tobacco and cotton farming. The Declaration of Independence was almost not adopted until the antislavery language that Jefferson had put into it was taken out.
Race was a constant issue because of its connection to slavery. The fights between slave states and free states led to the Civil War. Race continued to be part of the national discussion after the war during the period known as Reconstruction. Race became a significant topic after Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (full title: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.) Race continued to be on the minds of many Americans during the era of Jim Crow laws, entrenching segregation.
During the era from the early 20th Century, race wasn’t a common topic the general public would talk about. But, in 1947, a brave man named Jackie Robinson became the first American of African ancestry to play Major League Baseball since Moses Fleetwood Walker played in 1884. Since then, a lot of race talk has happened, leading to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which finally led to the end of widespread discrimination against people of African descent in America.
And we haven’t stopped talking about it since then…
But we need to have a different way of understanding the race issue, or else these continued discussions will get us nowhere. We have got to change or our problems will get worse and worse. These are the propositions we must adopt:
1) There is really only one race: the human race. Simplistic? Or course, most important ideas are simple. We must all start thinking of ourselves as the same “race” (that is, human) or we can never have the unity we desire. And it’s true – a research study done by the Washington University of St. Louis in 2003 concluded that, simply based on genetics and biology, races really do not exist. All human beings belong to, not only the same species, but the same subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens. (Watch: “Race – The Power of An Illusion” on YouTube to get the truth on this).
2) The Big Three Races, as we have known them, don’t exist. The modern concept of the “Big Three” races – white, black, and yellow – was a 17th Century invention to justify the European slave trade and European colonization. The “Big Three” idea was never a truly scientific concept, then – more sociology than biology. In fact, the “Big Three” idea doesn’t make much sense in the modern world because there are a lot of people groups that don’t fit in. Where do “Hispanics” fit in, for example? (By the way, “Hispanic” is another terrible way of categorizing people, as if there are no individual difference between a lot of people groups who happen to speak Spanish.) Anyway, are they “white” because they have ancestors from Spain? Are they “yellow” because almost all of them have “Native American ancestors”, and “Native Americans” are lumped into the “yellow” race? Or are they members of the “black” race because many of them have ancestors from Africa who were enslaved in many of the places they are from? The whole idea is ludicrous!
Another thing about the current “race” designations is the use of “Caucasians” to identify the “white” race. Isn’t it richly ironic that the only actual “Caucasian” we’re familiar with is named Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the dark-haired, dark-eyed somewhat swarthy-skinned Boston Bombing suspect?
3) We’re all Americans – no modifiers or hyphens – first and foremost. No matter where our ancestors came from, they all came to this country to be Americans. Because being an American meant one thing to almost everyone who came here: Freedom! Of course, it didn’t mean that – at first – to those who came to be slaves. But after the Emancipation Proclamation (and its gradual implementation), those former slaves and their ancestors experienced that astounding American Freedom, too. So we need to address our problems – like violence and the destruction of families – as problems of, not this or that “community”, but as American problems.
4) “Races”, in the Bible, are what we refer to as ethnic groups: The New Testament word translated “race” is ethnos. In Revelation 7:9, the word is translated people in the NIV, and it is used to describe the multitudes of individuals in heaven that John sees from everywhere. In the Bible, the Israelites were a race; so were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Philistines, the Macedonians, and so on. Today, they would simply be groups of people from a particular country of origin or region. By the way, Jesus shocked the Pharisee Nicodemus in John 3:16 when He said: “For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The gospel is not just for the Jewish “race”, it’s for every ethnic group.
5) It’s OK to celebrate our different ethnic identities: Our ethnicity is a significant part of who we are as individual Americans. It’s not wrong to remember our heritage – in fact, most Americans have more than one ethnic group they are part of. My ancestors all came from Italy; the President has ancestors from both Kenya and Ireland. We all should know and learn to enjoy our ancestry. But we have to avoid making our ethnic ancestry more important than our identity as American – unhyphenated. And no ethnic group has any reason for believing that it is better than or lesser than any other. We should never exclude others from association just because they’re not a member of our ethnic group.
If we really want to stop the division and start a complete healing process, we need to do two things:
- get God back into our lives and culture, because without His help, our human efforts, on our own, will fail. When we get THAT priority right, then we can:
- purpose to live our lives as Americans according to the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”