When It Comes to the Debate on Racism, Both Liberals and Conservatives Get it Wrong

I have to confess, I absolutely loathe talking about racism. Not because it’s not a topic that needs to be discussed, but because most people really don’t want to have an honest conversation about it. What most people want to do nowadays is simply prove that the other side is wrong. It’s not really about reaching an amicable solution to a problem, it’s about “winning the argument.”

The fact of the matter is, neither liberals or conservatives get it right. The real root of why we don’t get over these racial hurdles lies, at least in my opinion, in how we approach these discussions. A lot of the racism I see isn’t based off skin color, but cultural differences. And we create these cultural differences between ourselves.

Though I’ve never really understood people who talk about their “race’s culture.” When you define yourself specifically by your race, you’re instantly making race the primary factor leading all discussions. When someone says to me, “You’re white, you don’t get black culture” I really have no idea what that means. Aren’t we all humans? Am I not supposed “to get” another human being because they have a different skin color than I do? Isn’t the moment we began to separate ourselves “by our culture” the very moment we begin to separate ourselves into different groups? And the truth is, once we begin to separate ourselves, then there’s no hope for true unity.

I have African-American family members. We all share common interests in music, movies, sports, jokes and television shows. We agree on some issues and disagree on others. Am I not supposed to “get them” just because they’re a different skin color than me? Or what about the African-Americans I know who don’t get the so-called “black culture” either? Some of the African-Americans I know have indeed faced racism – from other African-Americans who have bashed them for “acting too white” or for being “sellouts.” What the hell does that even mean?

I define my culture as an American human – that’s it. I judge people by their actions, not the color of their skin. Good people and bad people alike come in all colors. No behavior, either good or bad, is mutually exclusive to just one race.

Besides, who defines this “culture”? Aren’t black people from Nigeria and Liberia coming from a different culture than a black person born in Mississippi or New York? Isn’t a white person born in Ireland going to have a different culture than one born in Texas? So how is “culture” based on race?

How can we ever even begin to think about coming together as human beings if we’re starting the conversation off by saying “you don’t get my culture” or “your culture is the problem”? Those kinds of statements establish an instant foundation of “we are not all the same.” But isn’t treating each other equally about feeling as if we’re all a part of the same culture? And if so, how can we ever get to that point if we continue dividing ourselves by this supposed “culture”?

Oh, I know, I’m saying this because I suffer from “white privilege.” Yes, liberals, I just love that new catchy phrase you folks are using. I’m white so that instantly dismisses anything I have to say about racism. Because nothing says “let’s have an honest discussion about race so that we can try to bring people together” quite like telling an entire race to sit down and shut up.

But when it comes right down to it, we need to be talking about how to come together as human beings. Not black human beings or white human beings, but just human beings. Though we’ll never do that as long as we continue to segregate ourselves by our own race. The reality is, race is a human-made concoction. If you took a blind person who had never seen colors and asked them to define race, they couldn’t do it. Race is completely based on our own labels we’ve placed upon ourselves and other people.

And as long as we continue to define ourselves by our skin color, we’ll never be able to come together as what we really are – just human beings.

Am I right? Wrong? Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know, because this is the conversation I think we need to be having as opposed to the petty bickering I usually see play out in these debates.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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