Our Obsession With Race

Casey Hartley

The United States is obsessed with race.

I’m not referring to our nation’s history, our government, or our laws, but our society itself. For the longest time, the United States has dealt with racial discrimination, slavery, and every realm of prejudice and disrespect. Racism still reigns alive today, however, because of one fatal flaw in our society: an attachment to race itself.

A couple of days ago, the news had just come across that Christian MacCaffrey, running back for the Carolina Panthers, signed a record-breaking deal that made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

What immediately stood out to me about the signing however, was that a large number of the initial reactions around the NFL mentioned MacCaffrey being white.  There is a stereotype that points to a severe lack of talented white running backs, so this was seen as an exception to the status quo.

Then I saw the comment, which I’ve included in a picture above. The comment made me wonder how outsiders might see our racially-obsessed culture.

Racism is a topic talked about non-stop in our society, and racists are appropriately seen as the scum of the Earth, but for some reason, we cannot conquer racism itself.  Race has become a prominent idea in our minds, and we give it far too much power over how we see the world.

Race is a social construct.  It dismays me that some people think race has a scientific basis.  According to California Newsreel’s summary of RACE – The Power of an Illusion, “Human subspecies don’t exist…despite surface appearances, we are the most similar of all species.  Skin color is really skin deep…knowing one trait, like skin color, doesn’t necessarily tell you anything else about another person’s traits.”

Something like this immediately dashes the labels of “white” and “black”.  We’ve created those labels, as well as many others, by a form of categorization.  Light and dark skin were adaptations for survival, a testament to humanity’s remarkable ability to live almost anywhere on Earth.

If we want to get rid of racism, we have to stop giving race power.  As long as we hold on to false labels and unnecessary categories, we separate ourselves into little boxes.  A large number of people naturally dislike and hate those different than them, and we are only giving those people a reason to hate the moment we categorize.

Our obsession with race is driving us apart, not bringing us together.  If we stop the infighting and focus on what’s truly important, we can accomplish the dreams that every one of us has: to live, to aspire, and to be happy.