When children learn, it’s the only thing they know. Think about that.
It may sound obvious, but the difference between child learning and adult learning is that adults have 20 years of filters and perspectives built up that informs how they take in this new information.
Meanwhile, when children learn, they have little previous information against which to compare the new. So when they take in new information, often it’s all they know. That becomes the foundation upon which all other learning rests.
When children grow up in an environment in which physical characteristics are not openly called out, discussed, or needlessly explained, the child takes it for granted that the world is occupied by people like that and there’s nothing unusual or strange about it. It doesn’t stand out.
But consider if you explained to your child the particulars of everyone they met: “Now, Johnny, see that man? He’s not like you. He’s very thin. Thin people are different than you.” This tells the child that there is something different or unusual about the man. Otherwise, you wouldn’t stop to call it out.
Our natural state is not racist. Our natural state is that people are people, and they come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. There are pale white people and tan white people. There are light-skinned black people and dark-skinned black people. The list goes on.
To notice race and consider people of a different race to have alternative universal characteristics is racist. It’s also generalization. It’s like assuming all women do this, all white men do that, all Asian people enjoy this, or all tall people are like that.
When we continue to harp on race over and over and over again, we drive home the idea that those people are somehow different than the rest of us. Worse, when we go to lengths to assume that people of one race would have a different experience than people of another race in the same situation is also presumptuously racist.
What is the goal? If the goal is to move beyond race and treat people equally, say, by the content of their character, then constantly bringing up, talking about, pointing out, making excuses for, blaming, justifying, or focusing on race will only exacerbate and extend the issues.
The only way we’re going to get past race is to just stop talking about it and stop making it the focus of absolutely every event that goes on in this country.
At some point, we’re going to have to clean the slate and start at zero. Wherever we are, and whatever the state of society, we’re going to have to just say, from this point forward, we’re done talking about race as if there’s some inherent difference to it that makes it worth discussing.
We’re just going to have to treat people as we wish to be treated. Of course, not everyone can do that, and there will be conflicts between people of different races. But we have to stop going into it assuming the conflict was due to race. People of the same race have conflicts all the time. We’re people. We don’t all agree on everything.
To blame conflict on race, when possible, is to create an extra layer of conflict that doesn’t exist and spread the conflict beyond the two people involved into everyone of their races. This exponentially spreads unnecessary division.
If, in fact, the conflict is race-based, we need to tackle it on an individual level, but make sure everyone has their day in court.
Racism is never going to go away so long as we all continue to focus on it and teach our kids about it. Even teaching kids that racism is bad gives them reason to ask the question: “Why would you have to tell me that if there wasn’t any difference?” If we would just stop talking about it, kids would take it for granted that people who don’t look like us are just more varieties of people.
If we could just get the race hustlers to focus on something else for a couple of days… or years… or forever.