“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
I was watching TV today and saw a commercial advertising a dating site which was exclusively for black people. Now, before I go any further, I want to go on record as saying I have no problem with this at all. The idea of creating a site for a specific group of people is a non-issue for me.
However, it begs the question – what if I create a site specifically for white people?
I imagine the outcry which would arise from a site dedicated to white people meeting and dating.
“DateOnlyWhitePeople.com – Because not everyone can look exactly like you”
There are currently dating sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims. That’s cool. I mean, hey… that stuff is important. It’d be difficult to be on your fourth date and find out how upset your Muslim father will be when you bring home that nice Jewish boy you met at the deli.
But a dating site specifically centered around race? Actually, that makes sense to me. It might be difficult for some people (regardless of ethnicity) to be around people of a different background or race. If you’re black and you’re more comfortable around black people, it makes perfect sense to be able to go to a site exclusively created to help blacks meet blacks. Asian? No problem. There’s a site for you, too! White? Hey… don’t be a racist, cracker.
Racism, by its very nature, is divisive. Where, though, is the division created? I don’t remember seeing a notice on other dating site commercials which said “No blacks allowed”. So, by creating a blacks-only dating site, the ones who are being divisive are the creators of that site and no one else. The users of that site are just gravitating to the site with which they relate the most. The creators of the site, however, created a tool which could be used to drive a wedge between their users and others who aren’t like them.
This trend has been around for a while (as has that site) and we see it more and more. Different ethnic groups unify and identify themselves in different ways. On the surface, there seems to be little harm in this. This is dangerous, though. I believe each of us lives in a world which is centered around how we identify ourselves. For example, if I identify myself by my profession, I tend to view others by comparing their profession to my own. If I identify myself by my education level, I view others through those lenses.
If race is the primary way by which a person defines his or her identity, that person will define others by race as well… are you my race or a different race? In other words, there’s “us”.. and everyone else.
In the end, I think racism has less to do with how we define others and more with how we define ourselves. By taking race out of our own identities, perhaps it will help take it out of the identities of everyone else. Then I’ll finally be able to stop wondering what kind of cracker I am… saltine? Graham? Wheat thin? I wish… I’d love to be thin.