“What are you?'' ''You don't look like your mom or your dad.'' In hindsight, these statements directed towards me by other children weren’t completely unwarranted, as my tan skin and brown curly hair always seemed to draw lots of attention. Growing up with a white mother and a black father has been an intriguing experience to say the least, though I’ve often wondered why what I looked like was a deciding factor in whether or not they wanted to get to know me as person. This begs the question- what if the concept of separate races in the human species never existed in the first place? In my opinion, the world would be a better place had the invention of race never occurred.
Several millennia ago, humans invented the concept of seeing those who looked different as inferior, and even inhuman. Throughout history, there have been those who have used the social construct of race as means of justifying slavery, murder, and oppression. The use of race ideology to legitimize man’s inhumanity towards man can be seen time and time again, from the exploitation of Native Americans in silver mines by the Spanish, to the 69 black deaths at the hands of police of the Sharpeville Massacre in apartheid South Africa, to the many African Americans who suffered through slavery, segregation, and lynching in the United States. If man would only see one another just as fellow humans, as individuals, brothers, and sisters, these atrocities wouldn’t have happened, and perhaps humans could have cooperated rather than conquered.
Even though the civil rights movement provided equal rights for all citizens, many problems in our society exist today because of the existence of the social construct of race. Unresolved issues in America such as racial profiling and economic inequality linger as residual effects of over two centuries of slavery. On a personal level, many people will respect others of different races, for their athletic prowess or musical talent, but will stop themselves short of getting to know them simply because of stigmas involved in associating one’s self with another race. Some people may have dark skin, others light, but the truth remains that we're all humans, and that should be our overriding thought as we interact with one another.
Ultimately, race is an intangible yet powerful and destructive attribute of our society that divides us rather than unites us. Though diversity is an integral component of our society, race should not be the deciding factor in the judgment of one’s character. In our day and age, culture should transcend skin color. We should be able to celebrate our differences, the differences that we have control over such as intelligence, kindness, and creativity, instead of something as arbitrary as pigmentation. As a society, rather than taking the easy way out by applying labels, let’s find other ways to express individuality and focus on finding common ground to enrich the overall human experience.