"Why can't we talk about race?"
The answer is because we are a country that has become too afraid to ask the hard questions, and it goes beyond race. Sexual orientation now has a prominent place in this discussion-we're-not-allowed-to-have. These topics are off limits, damn near taboo, because minorities are afraid of their feelings being hurt, and the rest of us are afraid of being characterized as a gang of bigots.
Equal rights movements--although they have achieved a great deal of good--are so backwards in their current forms that they are doing harm to the very people they aim to uplift.
Don't believe me? Consider this.
Black pride and gay pride are perfectly acceptable ideas in American society. In fact, pride in being black or gay is encounraged.
But what happens when someone stands up and says "I'm proud to be straight!" Well of course, that man is immediately labeled an "insecure homophobe." Someone else says "I'm proud to be a white man!" Definitely a racist.
What is so twisted about the equal rights movements today is that they tell certain groups of people that it is okay to be proud of who they are, but simultaneously tell another group of people that it's not okay to be proud of who they are. Racial pride: doesn't that sound a bit . . . racist?
I understand the idea behind all of this encouraged pride. These are groups of people who have historically been marginalized and disenfranchized, so they must undo the psychological damage that has been done to them and embrace the goodness of who they are. But if they are allowed to be proud of who they are, why am I not also allowed to be proud of who I am?
Honestly, the notion of racial pride is completely foreign to me, probably because all my life I have been taught that "white pride," always amounts to racism (justifiably so, because that is how it manifested itself historically). But what about pride in my gender or sexual orientation? I simply do not find any reason to be proud of the fact that I like women.
Race relations will never move forward in this country so long as there is an air of pride and entitlement placed on some groups, and shame and guilt are imposed on everyone else. It is a complete logical fallacy to say that "race shouldn't matter," but at the same time teach people that race does, in fact, matter. If race shouldn't matter, then why does Affirmative Action exist?
Furthermore, the unspoken tension will exist perpetually so long as we, as a society, shun those who try to ask the hard questions and try to have the uncomfortable discussions. Here's the first question: why is it okay to be proud of being black, but it's racist to be proud of being white?
You know what I'm proud of? I'm proud of the fact that I served my country honorably. I'm proud of the fact that I was a pretty damn good cryptologist in my day.
I'm proud that I'm raising two beautiful and intelligent children. I'm proud that I graduated with a double major in history and political science summa cum laude. I'm proud of the fact that I help people with disabilities be productive on their jobs so that they can maintain employment and live fuller lives.
I'm proud of my accomplishments; not my skin color, not of my preference for women, and not because of my downstairs mixup. Yes, I'm proud of who I am, but I'm not proud of my genetics. I'm not ashamed of my genetics either. It's inconsequential because I had no control over it. What I am proud of is the person I've become over the years.
Perhaps if everyone was taught that their skin color, sexual orientation, and gender actually don't matter, then perhaps the concept of "race relations," could finally be relegated to a vocabulary word in a social studies text book--an antiquated philosophical construct of an unevolved iteration of the human species.