When we divide this country along color lines, we may conclude this holiday means more to those of us with African ancestry. Ironically, as a result of the wage gap (See graphs C and D below), one may conclude an unproportionate number of workers with African ancestry may be clocking in today as a result of their daily job duties remaining vital to day-to-day function.
Although my position at my place of employment is vital to continued function of the organization, I have today off. My job can wait one day for my attention. And yes, I am what society considers “White”. That is to say, I have mostly European ancestors. Recently, I chose to go into work on a holiday. A friend/co-worker told me in jest that I was too “White” to be there on that day. If I gave credence to this notion that the colors of our skin defined us as people, I may find the idea that my friends who happened to have darker skin work more today than my friends who happened to have lighter skin objectionable solely because I considered these friends to be profoundly different. But, if this thing we call “race” does not define a person, we cannot draw lines along “race” here.
It has been said I, a “White” male, could not possibly understand what it is like to be a “Black” person in this society. I once heard a friend of African decent tell a friend of European decent that any claim a “White” person made about experiencing discrimination was unfounded. His claim seemed to state no “White” person could possibly know what it is to experience discrimination. One could conclude, as a “White” male, I don’t experience the same kinds of discrimination my “Black” brothers and all of my sisters experience regularly. But this doesn’t mean I don’t know what it is to be discriminated against and even targeted by police as a result of demographic information.
We all have powers of empathy. We tend to empathize most with people with whom we identify. With this knowledge, we may see how claiming a person of European decent could not understand the discrimination a person of African decent faces works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. To say we are so different works to put greater division between us. Perhaps it is my liberal upbringing, but I rejoice in the fact we have come as far as we have and weep at the thought of how far we have to go. I can’t say this holiday means as much to me as it does to you, because I’ve never been you. But, for the same reason, you can’t make any contrary claim.
Any inequality as a result of a bias system is unjust. I do not revel in the fact that our current system is unbalanced, even as I benefit from it. Still, I can’t help but feel that continuing to draw lines between “races”, perpetuates a system of inequality. My point here, if I have a point, is that while it is important to recognize the division, the injustice, we cannot let this division divide us further. This division is arbitrary and only works to oppress us, ALL of us. It is only when we come together that the powers that be will be no longer. When we stop allowing ourselves to be divided, we may see the real problem, the real cause for starvation and homelessness, the real cause for those of us without to continue to go without, greed. I’ve said it before; The best cage is one the prisoners cannot see. And today the bars of this cage look an awful lot like skin color.