Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "American Race"

In America today it seems like having an "American race" wouldn't be completely out of the question. Our country is a "melting pot" of many different ethnicities and many different cultures. As we learned from one of the theoretical articles today, interracial marriages are on the rise. Mr. Kunkle made the point that it's hard to find someone who is completely Caucasian or completely African-American. If you look back far enough, you can usually find an interracial marriage in any given family. So it seems to me that there is such thing as an "American race" in today's world. It's a kind of smorgasbord of different skin colors, ethnicities, and cultures.

I read the theoretical article by Barrett and Roediger "How White People Became White." This article takes a more historical spin on the issue of race and racism. At one point it talks about a continuous political argument going on concerning whether new immigrants should be considered part of the "American race." Honestly this term very much offends me when it is used in the context of keeping people out of this special "race."

Just looking at the term "American race" makes me question its historical usage. The word "American" tends to invoke thoughts of freedom and equality. But in this time, the "American race" included only people considered "white." And "white" didn't mean having white skin; it meant that you had white skin, were from Eastern Europe, and were living in America at the time of the revolution. Now basically that excludes the Irish, Germans, Italians, etc., not to mention the African-Americans, which is so stupid because blacks fought in the Revolutionary War right along side whites. 

I guess I am just saying that the "American race" of old is absolutely backwards, but the "American race" of today can actually be something. We just have to take this idea of a country race and run with it. We have to come to the realization that race isn't the color of our skin or our ethnicities. Skin color doesn't matter--or at least it shouldn't. It's time we understand that.

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