By Andrew Keith
With the North Korean nuclear threat, the ever-increasing national debt, and a quasi-cold war with Russia, is racism the most pressing issue facing America’s safety and longevity? Yes. And I’ll tell you why. Americans are more or less able to unite when it comes to times of international peril. World War II saw widespread integration of African Americans and women into hitherto white, male roles. This diversification helped lead to the construction and fabric of the American identity we know today. Women began to take on more independence regarding economic responsibility and African Americans were temporarily granted many of the rights whites held at that time in order to win the war. When we talk about World War II, we talk about race relations only because there was relatively little tension between whites and blacks, at least compared to the time period.
So why, then, is race the biggest issue facing us now? Abraham Lincoln is attributed to stating that “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Coming from the most adored president in the history of our nation and one of the first powerful leaders to attempt to remedy racism in America, this quote, unfortunately, rings truer today than we would like to admit. Like Europe, the only way America falls is if we destroy ourselves. The current race issue is dividing our nation like we haven’t seen in many years and it is the effect of two sides unwilling to negotiate and unwilling to compromise. Deep down, Republicans and Democrats share far more in common than the media gives them credit for because where would they get such good content if everyone actually agreed with each other? Although there is great disagreement across the aisle regarding strategies for the Russian and North Korean issues, if conflict does arise, it is likely that Americans will unite in defending this nation from foreign threat because the vast majority of Americans love this country and the principles it is grounded upon. Race is not a foreign threat.
We are thoroughly dividing ourselves over race, but to what extent is the race issue justified? We just elected our nation’s first African American president for two terms, but did race relations develop or deteriorate? It seems to me as if race tension is higher now than it has been in many years, certainly since before the Obama administration, and it is because of the unrelenting focus race. Clarence Thomas, an African-American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, once said in an interview that he “has never understood the notion that we could continue to focus on race in order to get over race.” Why is it necessary to initially subject cause to race before we attempt to find alternative causes that could be more plausible? We are making race the biggest issue when it truly is not so.
Are there injustices performed towards black men by police officers? Yes. Are there injustices performed towards white men by police officers? Yes. We can attain a more unified nation if we set aside the notion that all problems are derivative of the color of someone’s skin. There are evil people in this world, but race does not make people who they are. One’s race should not be their identity. One’s race should not be their future in life. One’s race should not dictate and direct one’s life. Race should not be important.
I am willing to acknowledge injustices where they stand and to do everything in my power to implement solutions that can fix the injustices so our posterity will not be engulfed in rampant injustices. The first step to a successful nation is cooperation among its people. Disagreements are meant to thrive in a democracy, and not to divide us. If we don’t come to our senses soon, we will be led down a dark and dangerous path where division is synonymous with the American identity.