Race is the rash we shouldn't scratch - The Echo News
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Race is the rash we shouldn’t scratch

Contesting the race conversation

By David Nurkkala | Contributor

(Photograph provided by Wikimedia Commons)

(Photograph provided by Wikimedia Commons)

If you’ve found it within you to look past the evocative title and all of the assumptions you’ve carried past it, I applaud you. To assuage your fears, let me preface my short essay with this: I believe racist behavior is evil, immoral, unjust and condemned by everything I believe as a Christian. I believe that race is (or, rather, should be) largely unimportant and irrelevant to our society. As an individual, I really don’t care what color your skin is or where you come from, because I believe these things do not (or, rather, should not) affect who you are in any noticeable way. What I care about is who you are within. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said (paraphrased): “I have a dream that someday, we will be judged by the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin.”

One of the reasons I write is to contest something that was published in The Echo’s Opinions section a number of weeks ago. It was a short article, and it stated something that I found rather disagreeable: when has a problem ever gone away because you ignored it? This is a paraphrase, but it was used to describe the author’s belief that in order to fix racism in our society, we must address it, talk about it and confront it. I think the author and I would agree in one aspect of this: we must condemn and legally prosecute those that harm others’ health, property or opportunity due to racism. But from my point of view, we should stop talking about race as a general concept, as if it is something that permeates our society or as if it is something that matters.

Hear me out, if you would. Trust me when I say we’re on the same side. I’m inspired by something that Morgan Freeman, a prominent actor in Hollywood, said to an interviewer once on a news broadcast: “I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” I believe this is exactly the kind of methodology we should employ. If we believe that race is unimportant to the value of a person, and that instead their personal character is what defines them, why do we care about race at all? I think that spawning these many discussions on race only serves to cause people to think that race is important, something that I believe should be avoided.

No one is born racist, as found by Harvard researcher Mahzarin Banaji in a 2012 paper. With this in mind, why should we teach our peers and children that race matters and undermine this natural state? I don’t believe this is the intention of these discussions, but I believe there is an unintended consequence of these discussions: a message that teaches race is important. Again, I believe this is harmful to our society. I’ve been to a lot of places and I’ve met a lot of people, and that’s just what they are: people. Their color and their ancestors are irrelevant to me. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable; it doesn’t make me afraid; it doesn’t make me feel anything. To suggest that it does only serves to widen the chasm that I believe was artificially created in the first place.

When has a problem gone away by ignoring it? Think about a rash. The more you scratch, the longer it lasts; the worse it gets. Race and racism are a rash on our society. Talking about it so much in such a way that makes it seem important is scratching it. If we continue in this way, I believe it will only last longer and get worse. So, I implore you, reader, stop scratching, and it will heal on its own.

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