I have read the multifarious meanings of race and believe that I have an acceptable understanding of its progeny. Having traced the beginnings of race to travel writings and other stories that attempted to figure out why human beings are different in appearance and ability, I know, as do many others, that race is a social construct that is practiced personally and systematically. I recognize that we are asked to become a part of the circle or to join the box, to be contained each time we are asked our race or ethnicity. This is the way that American society defines its citizens. But, what I cannot comprehend is our remaking of race into something good or the use of race in any form as a goal.
An oxymoron is a ” figure of speech by which a locution (or expression) produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in ‘cruel kindness.’ ” An oxymoron is created when contradictory terms are used together. Here are just a few examples of terms that I have trouble with given the purpose and historical use of race and its progeny. Perhaps, they have been confusing for you as well.
Racial Justice: There is no justice in race. This color- coded system was not created to enact or ensure justice but to service inequality. There is no middle ground or middle of the road, no compromise to be reached. For race, Lady Justice is not blind; she is simply not invited. Race is not “handicap accessible” in this regard. Race sees clearly who it wants to have and have not.
Racial Equality: The idea of race was based on a hierarchical system; it’s a ladder. The only way that fairness can be established is to remove the ladder. Shaking the ladder or pushing people off of it will only change the order and repeat the cycle of oppression.
Racial Progress: Race was never about movement. It was created to keep persons in their social places and positions. Race is not a leader but a line that is drawn around each of us. We will not move so long as it is a part of us.
Racial Supremacy: “I’m better than you.” What problem does this statement solve? All cultures or people groups can’t be supreme so inevitably someone will be designated as less than, inferior or the minority. And no one is really supreme as race subjects us all and uses us all.
Racial Pride: How can we take pride in colors or a system that was created to elevate one by oppressing another, that uses the individual against her or himself? What pride can be found in hating some one in order to love yourself more? We must stop trying to make white alright and give black a comeback. The words are poisonous and cannot be used to inoculate persons against the disease of racism. Joining race in order to fight it just never made any sense to me. For me, that’s a way of living that is an oxymoron.