Right in time for Black History Month…

I have a confession to make. When people try their hand at being racially and culturally open-minded diversity, there tends to be a certain level of abject capitulation and annoyance on my end. On the one hand, I really DO appreciate any efforts folks make to be “colorblind.” But at the end – and I think many other minorities would agree – acknowledging (and celebrating) our differences is equally as important.

I suspect however, that out of fear of being labeled racist, pointing out racial and cultural differences amongst groups is a practice often avoided. When it IS done, it’s usually so absurd that it almost becomes offensive (for instance, I got a huge chuckle out of a strip from the Boondocks when Huey’s liberal teacher was trying to show his appreciation for Black History Month. During his lecture, the teacher uses a ridiculous line to the effect of “You can’t spell African without “I Can.” Egh. I had a teacher like that too. Drove me nuts). For a frame of reference, consider Exhibit A:

No two ways about it: we are all different. The pursuit of “equality” would have you believe we are the same, but we are not. Sure, we share similar qualities and – in some cases – characteristics. But that is not the same as being equal. When Thomas Jefferson first coined the “All men are created equal” line, I suspect he was pointing out the worth and quality of a person, not the physical and temporal similarities people may have (making it a little ironic that the same mentality that produced a document like the Declaration of Independence could also justify slavery and the 3/5 Compromise. But I digress.). Equality had nothing to do with physical properties, wealth, affluence, intelligence, or any number of attributes. Instead, it points out the fact that as living, breathing beings, we all have worth. That is not the same as declaring that people are the same.

To put it in simpler terms, consider the following example, since I’m a huge sports fan. In basketball a free throw is one point, any shot from inside the three point line is worth two points, and anything outside of that line is worth three points. These rules apply to any team, whether they are the league champions or the losers at the bottom of the ladder. Though the teams are very different in terms of their personnel, uniforms, athletic abilities, facilities, operating budgets, fan bases, win/lose records, etc. they are all equal under the rules and the spirit of the game.

So in order to avoid the temptation of tossing my computer out the window when I saw the clip, I had to pound the differences between equality and similarity into my head. Believe me: it was HARD! I mean, you saw how ridiculous that clip was. It was so bad, I felt compelled to find the show’s producer and smack him in the face with a shovel. Using unambiguous and bland stereotypes to make a point should be avoided at all costs. Still, at the end I also recognize that we tend to needlessly get riled up any time racial differences are pointed out…even if there was NO hint of racist intent in said demonstration. The song in the above clip was clearly trying to convey that we are all equal in God’s eyes, even when we are not the same. That can’t be too bad of a message…even if the delivery sucked something awful. Right?

What say you?

– ACL

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