They say that race is not a real thing. They say there’s only one race. They say that race is just a person-made (see how I didn’t say “man-made”) construct designed to subjugate people of color, especially those of native African descent, and empower those of native European descent.
They might well be right.
On the other hand, whether person-made or not, race is a “real” thing that has worked for centuries to divide groups of people. In that sense, it’s not unlike nations and nationalities. For example, there’s nothing inherently different about a French person and a German person. At birth, neither one speaks the language of the nation into which they are born. A French baby doesn’t automatically like wine, and baguettes, and have a snobby attitude. Likewise, German babies don’t necessarily love Bratwurst and beer, and have a thing about building well-engineered cars and accomplishing world domination. Yet, nevertheless, no one questions that there are real differences between the French and the Germans (though these days their fear of what Trump will do next has drawn them ever closer together).
So, it is with race. Even if one accepts that race is not an actual biological distinction between peoples, one still must acknowledge that being Black or White will lead to different experiences in society. One must concede that race is real. Indeed, if one does not accept that, then how does one explain slavery and Jim Crow and laws prohibiting miscegenation?
Does one accept that race is real now? Huh, does one? How about you over there? Yeah, you, the one reading over “one’s” shoulder. Do you accept it?
Okay, good, so now you both have agreed – albeit grudgingly – that race is real. No one’s trying to “win” here. The only point is to illustrate the obvious – that you can assert that being Black or White doesn’t matter because “people are just people” but how many White guys in suits have you seen stand outside and try to hail a cab unsuccessfully for 20-30 minutes. How many White guys in BMWs (well-engineered German cars, by the way) have been pulled over even without transgressing the law and despite their auto having no obvious defects that would warrant a traffic stop?
I think you see where I’m going with this. It’s called “gilding the lily.” I’m doing it to make a point. And, the point is this:
Race is as real as Harvard being the paradigm of great education. It’s as real as weekends and as the inherent comedy of a fart joke. Just as with race, all those things (Harvard’s reputation, weekends, and funny fart jokes) are “person-made.” But, they’re real.
Because race is real, it means races can be blended or mixed or co-joined. In other words, there can be interracial couples and marriages, and multiracial families and people.
Ironically, though, what happens when you have an interracial relationship or a multiracial family or person, race starts to become less of a dividing line – at least within the entity at issue. To be sure, multiracial people still grapple with issues of race and racism, but a multiracial person is far less likely to want to (or to actually) put up walls between races than someone of just one race.
And, the more this happens – the more that races come together in a person or family and the more that walls between races come down – guess what happens? That’s right, race – real or not – starts to matter less and less until . . . . (drum roll please) it turns out that really, we’re all just one race.
So, on behalf of the Multiracial Community, we’d like to say “you’re welcome.” We’ve ended race and racism. It just may take us a few more years to actually do that.