A Less Perfect Union
The Pretense of Race Liberalism is Fading Away. That’s a Bad Thing.
I don’t know when it happened, but over the last few years, I stopped communicating what I thought about race. Being African American, race has always been something I’ve have to contend with in my own life. It wasn’t some kind of burden, but since an early age,I’ve always been aware of who I was and how my appearance could affect a myriad of things in my life. It was also a way to compare how lived my life in the present as opposed to how say, my late father lived his life growing up in Jim Crow-era Louisiana.
My view of race in America hasn’t really changed- there are still serious problems that need addressing, but on the whole, life for African Americans is infinitely better than it ever has been thanks to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. But the wider discussion on race has changed dramatically in the last decade or so and I would argue these changes will hurt not only African Americans but the American experiment.
Somewhere in the middle of the last decade, the rhetoric on race changed. I’m hearing less about the Civil Rights movement and more about the Civil War and slavery. It wasn’t as if no one talked about the history of slavery-I can remember watching the miniseries Roots as a kid. But slavery became more prominent in the talk about race. The best example of this is of course the 1619 Project from the New York Times which tries to shift the founding of America from the historical date of 1776 and the signing of the declaration of independence to 1619, the date when the first African slaves arrived in what would be the United States. It moves slavery from one thing that defines the United States to THE thing that defines the nation. Joined with the ideology of settler colonialism, you get a nation that is defined not by freedom or equality, but by oppression and hatred. Multiculturalism, which was in the past considered a goal for America is in some quarters considered a sham that supports the settler colonial ideology of America. The rhetoric seemed to change from a positive vision on race and America to one that is much darker and hopeless. It feels like the story that I grew up with, one of African Americans overcoming the obstacles of racism has been discarded and in its place is a story of never-ending struggle where there is resentment instead of optimism.
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