How Will We Live in a “Post-Racial” Society?

I’ve become quite puzzled lately by the increasingly frequent uses, in speech and in print of the term “post-racial society.” Our President has even, I think, used that phrase. I am not sure,   but it seems as if the connotations here are overriding the denotative values.  If one is seeking honest and reasoned discourse,  then here is a problem:  if someone objects to the term or believes that achievement of such a state could not be possible,  he or she, even if well-intentioned, is likely to be cast aside and ignored.

If such a possibility as a “post-racial society” is to be entertained or as seriously considered as much as a “Post-It Note,” we will need more rational approaches and a heightened sense of proper decorum in our discussion forums.

I think most of those who use the term intend to signify a society in which prejudice and discrimination are in effect eradicated, and thus no one will be treated unfairly or criminally because of their ethnic characteristics:  in particular, facial color and features. Maybe even dress,  and sometimes these days,  maybe even tattoos.

But I get puzzled because the term “racial” is and should be most commonly and effectively used neutrally:  to signify that the world’s population (or perhaps more narrowly the population of a nation, or a particular city or community) can be divided into specific subcultures with visible or tangible features that will identify their members by certain specific features.

If the speaker or writer wants to speak about a future time when all the members of a particular population entity have intermarried and bred to such an extent that they all share the same identifying features and abilities,  then I would prefer that “post-racist” or even “post-racialist” (the latter being sometimes labelled as “Chiefly British”)  be used.   Who can oppose or would oppose such a Utopian vision?

If our country would become “post-racial” in the sense that I usually understand it,  then I would expect that all Americans would be able both to jump as high and to swim as well as those with similar athletic abilities, thus leveling out these contemporary, stereotypical characteristics.

As early as the first half of the last century,  an anthropologist, anatomist, and humanist  was pressing hard the thesis that “race” was a nonsensical term.  See especially Ashley Montagu’s 1942 study,  “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth:  The Fallacy of Race.”  As a student of Alfred Korzybski,  Ruth Benedict, and Franz Boas,  Montagu (1905-1999) was also a well-trained and skillful semanticist. In our present culture many more job applicants are resisting the filling in of the application form’s query about one’s “race.”   Tiger Woods (did he need a new job, and some feel he soon could) might write in “Cablinasian,”  another has written “100-yard dash,”  still another “homo sapiens”   and so on.

So,  I hope some of the readers of this blog will help me (1) to understand what is intended just now of the term “post-racial” society,  (2) to estimate whether it can be arrived at via new laws or the studied interpretation of existing laws, such as the “Bill of Rights,”  and (3)  to help me understand why such a society would be desirable to all citizens in our republic or democracy.



8 Responses to “How Will We Live in a “Post-Racial” Society?”

  1. Macky Myers Says:

    In my opinion, we are already, for the most part, post-racial in America. To me, the real culpret is not race by socioeconomic entrapment where, unfortunately, races are cornered unable to breathe and barely move due to financial restraint and taxes. Coming up with money for the rent, light bill, and putting food on the table supercedes all else. When you can’t do that, the next human reaction is to look for someone to blame–a scapegoat–“they are not like us.”

    As more middle class Americans lose their homes to foreclosure and their jobs to robots, ATM’s, and corporate greed, many more whites will join the ranks of the poverty stricken where for the first time in our nation’s history a new generation has no hope of doing better than the previous one.

    Instead of a “melting pot” in America, we’re now looking at a grease fire on the back burner. Even those with jobs are heavily taxed at 30 percent taxation with Americans having to work from January until May just to pay “Uncle” (wicked step father?) Sam. Discretionary income for the middle class down is rapidly disappearing.

    I am amazed at the flood of articles I’m now reading where middle class America is forced to cut further and further back in discretionary spending each year. I have never seen so many article regarding ways to save money and how to adjust to the “NEW” economy where the lost jobs are never to return to America even when the “great recession” ends.

    My point is poverty and financial pressure are often the underlying cause of friction, racial tension, and outburst where the right side of the tracks looks like greener pasture to those forced on the wrong side.

    I think we often equate social outbursts in terms of race when poverty should be the real issue.

  2. Ellis Cafaro Says:

    Very nice post. But I must encourage anyone who is interested in this software to further your education and get books

  3. Forest Crump Says:

    “post-racial society”

    “I think most of those who use the term intend to signify a society in which prejudice and discrimination are in effect eradicated, and thus no one will be treated unfairly or criminally because of their ethnic characteristics: in particular, facial color and features. Maybe even dress, and sometimes these days, maybe even tattoos.”

    How about gender discrimination, one that many males are unaware of and women just accept.

    This might not line up correctly when I post the comment. It starts with a male with a HS education earns on average 32,085 and female 21,117 and ends with a male with a Professional Degree on average earns 100K and a female only 66K.

    A comparison of earnings Male/Female

    H.S.ed AA Deg BA/BS PhD Prof/Degree

    Male: 32,085 42,382 59,265 78,324 100,000

    Female: 21,117 29,510 36,532 54,666 66,055
    (Source Wikipedia)

    A male with a high school education earns 34% more than his female counter part. This might be explained by the type of work, construction/waitress, etc.

    A male with a BA earns 38% more than his female counter part. Again, it might be a choice of careers they go into.

    However, Professional Degrees, doctors, lawyers, dentists, vets, et al, where things should be on a more equal basis, males earn 34% more than their female counter part, the same disparity that exist with only a high school education.

  4. Frank B Maness,Jr. Says:

    If anyone gets left behind today is because they, meaning anyone missed their opportunities because the doors aren’t closed to no one! All things will never be totally equal. Everyone can’t be first in line! There is a system and to blame the system is no excuse. To better the system will always be on the table!

    Forest!! I’m still pondering the female/male earning statistics! Everyone isn’t personally driven to make money and the money they make isn’t their main concern! Being a female today will not keep that person from making a dollar!!There are many jobs set on a base pay and reguardless of race, gender or what ever that will be the earning scale period!

  5. CICvet Says:

    Your paragraphs 3, 4, & 5 give me mental pix of King and Ionesco. We all have race, I believe we’ll always have racists, whether the McVeigh (sp?) type, the “benevolent neglect” type such as the Lt Gov of South Carolina (who is to compassion what Plaxico Burriss is to marksmanship), or the ever-so-subtle type, as Pat Buchanan. And if racial is an adjective pertaining to the differences, similarities and other factors involving humanity, we’ll always have a here-it-is-now racial society. Pious fertilizer, RJ! You’ve opened a can of beans. (Sorry re: rambling. (Sapporo lager involved)).

  6. tom Says:

    Frank says,
    ” All things will never be totally equal. Everyone can’t be first in line! There is a system and to blame the system is no excuse.”

    Very profound, when everyone realizes this the world will be a much better place.

    Being born in the USA does not mean you can lay on your rump all the time and have the same thing that your neighbor (who may be working more than one job) has.
    The man or woman who works and saves SHOULD have more than a slothful person.

  7. High School Says:

    Great article . Will definitely copy it to my website.

  8. Raymond Rundus Says:

    February 6, 2010

    Thanks to all for these timely and stimulating observations about the prospects for (and the diverse meanings of) a “post-racial society.”
    [Hasn’t Frank Maness made much progress as a writer since he started making comments about my comments? But he’s definitely not just a “common tater” either. . . .]
    Gender disparities re income, Forest Crump, are probably simpler to illustrate and lament, and quite a bit different, in their causes and in their effects, than racial differences.
    Macky Myers’ essay is outstanding, I think, particularly in his identifying poverty as the primary cause of inequity and intolerance than is what we call “race.” It is interesting to see, in the comments made by adult blacks/African-Americans in the series running lately in the “Local & State” section of our daily newspaper that at least two of the interviewees have regarded economic inequality as a more significant issue than “race.”
    (They were responding to a famous comment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    This is how the question was phrased: “Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a ‘nation where (people) will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ How close are we to that?”) The latest interviewee, Bryant Johnson, responded, “I believe that the color barrier has been broken. I mean, I don’t see any or know of any signs of racism. But today’s problem is with the rich or the poor, you know what I mean? . . . Now, it’s either you’re poor or you’re rich . . . ”
    There are no doubt a few rabid racial extremists still amongst us, such as white supremacists. It has been my experience, however, that “class” is a far more significant divider in our culture than “race.” But the “race card” can be played still sometimes to good effect and might even, in the right circumstances, win a pot or two.
    We talk very little around the table about a “classless” society, however, as many would believe that “equality” has been established by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For a thorough and provocative book about the characteristics of the significant classes in American society, you need to find and read Paul Fussell’s “Class.”
    Or, if you want to establish for yourself a perception about a sizable cross-section of our population, spend most of a day at a busy “Wal*Mart” and watch for such determiners of class as dress, purchases made and with what medium of exchange, vehicles driven, speech habits, body language (tattoos or not), and so on . . . . Many, by dress and speech and “bling” alone, could never expect to find employment in a “white-collar” job. And thus “class differences” will continue to be distinctive–if unbidden, underestimated, and misunderstood–markers of one’s economic potential.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: