Let’s Rid Ourselves of
Those Silly Race Boxes
by Ward Connerly
In his 1980 campaign against President Jimmy Carter, candidate Ronald Reagan asked the American people to answer that now famous question: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Reagan was elected because the majority of Americans did not believe they could answer that question in the affirmative.
Today, that same question can be asked with respect to “race” relations in America; and the answer will be a very mixed one. In our private lives, Americans are developing close personal friendships with people of other “races,” dating “interracially,” marrying across lines of race, and having children. All of this suggests that the color line is being consigned to the scrapbook of history for an increasing number of Americans.
Yet, despite the increasing irrelevance of race for many, for others it is the ultimate definition of what we are as individuals. In a nation that considers itself the melting pot of the world – “one nation, indivisible” – the very concept of people being divided by the color of their skin, the origin of their birth or, worse, that of their ancestors, is abhorrent. Nonetheless, racial and ethnic classifications are deeply entrenched in our nation. And, instead of such classifications giving way to the reality of changing demographics, they are becoming more entrenched, as the government expands the list of racial and ethnic groups instead of folding us into one people without divisible parts. The United States Census, for example, developed a list of 63 racial categories for the 2000 Census. If the ethnic category of “Hispanic” is taken into consideration, that list multiplies to 126.
Clearly, the issue of “race” is becoming more central in the public sphere, not less. bur elections are infested with identity politics, as we saw during the 2000 presidential campaign. Throughout the nation, “racial profiling” and the call for reparations for the descendants of slaves are being debated, often with violent consequences, as we witnessed in Cincinnati. Special legislation is being enacted in many instances to punish the Perpetrators of “hate crimes” based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Instead of “one nation … indivisible,” America is becoming a slave to skin color “diversity.” Race seeps out of every pore of the body politic in our nation. I am convinced to the core of my being that unless the American people confront this issue – and soon – troubling times await us. The violence and civil disturbances that took place in Cincinnati are instructive of how far some are willing to go to pursue matters having a “racial” implication.
The responsible thing for us to do, as a people, is not to cave in to the demands of Protestors who seek remedies based on race – as was done in the 1960’s – but to begin the essential process of removing race from the public arena. This process begins, it seems to me, by getting rid of the boxes that government uses to classify, define and categorize the American people. “What is your race?” “What is your ethnicity?” What is your national ancestry?” These questions should not be asked of American citizens. Whenever they are posed, it is generally for the purpose of distributing college admission, jobs or contracts on the basis of which box we checked.
It is for this reason that the American Civil Rights Coalition has decided to take the bold step of trying to extricate government from the race business. Imagine a nation where government looks at skin color and ethnic background the same way that it views our religion: none of the government’s business.
I have probably pledged allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and “to the Republic for which it stands” several thousand times. On every occasion, I am reminded that the founding principle to which my allegiance is being pledged is that of “one nation under God, indivisible…” America is not a nation of many races; it is one nation, without divisible parts. Yet, throughout our history, our government has violated that most fundamental creed.
For more information on sending financial support or getting petitions signed to ensure the success of the Racial Privacy Initiative, please contact the American Civil Rights Coalition at 916-444-2278.
Ward Connerly, author of a newly-released autobiography, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences, is founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute — a national, not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the problems created by racial and gender preferences. Connerly has gained national attention and respect as an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, sex, or ethnic background.
by Ward Connerly
Copyright (c) 2001 The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved. <