I was having a discussion with a female friend (subject A) this morning over the ignorance and narrow-mindedness some people display via their BBm status updates. In this case, another friend of mine (subject B) was wondering aloud that “White people are so weird and strange“. I was explaining to subject A that it’s impossible for humans to make progress when we still lump people together based on their ethnicity and actions. Suddenly, subject A gets riled up. About what you may ask? She was peeved by my use of the word ethnicity instead of race. She was highly irritated that I would suggest that being “White” is not a race, but rather an ethnicity and that we should stop “extending these socially constructed social contracts.” I tried to explain that over time, in addition to what my professors taught me in college and what I’ve experienced, I had come to see race as a social construct. I view humanity as the human race consisting of people from various ethnicities, not various races. My friend wanted us to “re-construct” my comment, but I was not in the mood. It was too early for such a discussion. Yet, I obliged. I explained further that the notion of the “White race”, “Black race”, or “purple race” has been used as a divisive tool amongst humans for centuries. We don’t have to look any further than the example of slavery, both past and present, albeit in different forms. As a result, it is not shocking to find supremacists who view the “White race” as being superior or the “Black race” being destined to be poor, lazy, violent and over-religious, which is one reason why I refuse to use the word race in categorizing people.
Rather than my friend calmly expressing her opposition, she proceeds with the following rant. And I quote: “You of all people know better…so because your professors are dumb doesn’t mean you should also act dumb…and if you want to pretend that we are one human race and we are all happy go lucky, then please rethink why you want to read law.” For a split second, I was about to go all “Omarosa” up on her tush, but the calming spirit of the Lord warned me otherwise. So I jejely told her that I stand by my comment and that I did not need to rethink why I wanted to study law. For one, me “viewing race as a social construct” is not correlational to my desire to study law, which entails: developing proficiency in writing and speaking, reading, analyzing, thinking logically, doing research, and redressing wrongs in a just and fair manner, all the while being aware of the complexities of the legal principle. In spite of my ideologies, I am not one of those people who disregards the fact that “given the bias of cultural presumption, we tend to see in the law a reflection of ourselves that only serves to confirm the image we have of ourselves as a diverse people” (www.people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/law.intro.html). It would be foolish of me to think that we still don’t live in a divided world.
Yet I couldn’t help but wonder what gives people the audacity to think they know what your profession should be because they disagree with a comment you make? Granted there are people who when you listen to their beliefs, your heart bleeds that they could possibly end up in a position of leadership. With such people, the most I would tell them is to think critically and go read. I would never assume that I know what their career should be. Just because people don’t agree with your philosophies, does not mean you have to belittle them. I’m just having a hard time understanding what my friend’s problem is. For crying out loud, even some of the numerous government, exam, and job application forms here in the U.S have a section for people to fill in their ETHNICITY or ethnic origin. So what’s the issue?
My Jaguda people, can you help me out here? Do you believe that the notion of replacing the term race with ethnicity and viewing race as a social construct is foolhardy, naïve and delusional? Or you disagree? What say ye?
Photo credits: http://www.drsharma.ca/tag/ethnicity