Racial Classification Is Not a Civil Rights Measure
by Susane M.J. Heine
Since the death of Martin Luther King, we have all seen, with varying reactions, how the “civil rights movement” has taken an abrupt left-turn, abandoning its original goal of equality (universal and ubiquitous) to accommodate the demands of various ethnic groups and races, particularly in terms of retribution for past injustices. “You owe us!” is the theme.
Let’s go back a bit in time. One fine morning in 1619, a ship dropped anchor outside Jamestown in Virginia. The captain, a Dutchman with a cargo of men and women captured in Africa and meant for sale in the West Indies, had no food on board, and traded his cargo for supplies. With that transaction, black slavery was born in continental America; in fact, one might even say that the prophecy of St. John’s words came alive on that day: “The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.”[Revelations 14:19]
The first thing the new slaveowners did after purchasing their black-skinned property was to document it. “Rufus, good teeth, strong back, perhaps 20 years of age. Jemima, a good breeder, appears clever, some 16 years of age.” And so forth. And thus did the system of racial classification begin. By the 1700s, a black man or woman was considered 3/5ths of a human being for the purpose of voting representation. A plantation-rich county could use these 3/5ths to effectively pad its proportional numbers with respect to representation in the state and federal governments.
Surely, then, there is a surrealistic irony in the idea that the liberal Left should support a system, racial classification, that is the brainchild and tool of slaveowners.
Ward Connerly is the first person in American history to publicly defy that idea. In posing Proposition 54, he is advocating an entirely new mindset, one that dispenses with the categorizations that Massa used to inventory the chattel on his Mississippi plantation.
This is the State of California, not Scarlett O’Hara’s Twelve Oaks. This is the dawn of the 21st century, not the twilight of Dixie. There is no longer any reason for us classifying human beings on the basis of continental origin, skin color, language, customs or ancestry. Today, when our friends and neighbors—indeed, when our own grandchildren—are such outlandish, handsome, and flamboyant racial mixtures that we even feel ourselves free to joke about it, then we have become liberated from our servitude to ‘race’. We are free of it! (Or as Martin said: “Great God Almighty, I’m free at last!”)
The opposition may claim that we will all drop dead on the spot if racial data on our medical status is not punctiliously collected and administered. That is nonsense, and if they were honest in their purpose, they would never have brought this foolishness up. But they are dedicated to a wholly different agenda, one that lines their own pockets. The disharmony, the fragmentation of purpose, the sheer chicanery and greed that permeate what is left of the Civil Rights Movement today, are a disgrace. And be sure, a lot of individuals are making a lot of money out of keeping these racial distinctions alive, getting rich on forcing us to behave as members of ‘groups’, and not as the individuals that we are—each and every one stamped in God’s image.
I have to support Proposition 54. My grandchildren—with their mix of French, Irish, African, Cherokee, Seminole, German and Swedish—demand this of me. For the sake of their future, I have no other option.
Copyright © 2003 Susanne M.J. Heine and The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.