Race

The Trump Effect on Interracial Friendships

faultline

Lucius Wilson

My friend Johnny is a middle-class white guy who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the late seventies and early to mid-eighties. I am a black guy who grew up in that same neighborhood. In fact, Johnny and I grew up two blocks from one another. Johnny’s not a big man, but lean and strong with a crop of graying blond hair and piercing blue eyes, the kind of eyes that could go cold and lifeless in an instant if the situation called for it.

He is a tough working-class guy, years of growing up in the inner city made him and his brothers that way. Johnny and I met in the late seventies at Ferry Elementary school, classroom 103, our teacher was Mrs. Lewis, a pretty, black woman in her late twenties. Johnny is a good man, and honest man, honest almost to a fault at times, the kind of guy that if his wife asked him if the outfit she is wearing makes her look fat if he believes that it does, his answer would be a disastrous,

“Yeah hon, I think it does make you look a little thick around the waist.”

A spiritual man who certainly believes in a higher power, which is something I would attribute to his wife of over twenty years, Lisa. I know this man well, direct, honest, loyal, the kind of guy that sees things in black and white, there are no grey areas as far as he can tell. His belief is either it is one way or the other. On this point, my friend and I often disagree.

Although we stayed in touched and visited each other over the holidays and we talk on the phone almost every weekend are paths have diverged. I decided to pursue a career as a writer and he became a land surveyor. During the economic downturn a few years back, he often found himself out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

It was around this time that I began to hear bitterness creeping into his voice. He began talking about affirmative action, Immigration reform, border control, Donald Trump’s border wall, in short, he was sounding less like my friend that I had known most of my life and more like Fox News’s Sean Hannity, being African American I found his new views, well, new to me anyway troubling. In the years that we have known each other we rarely discussed politics, and even when we did we both seem to agree on the issues.

The Faultline became apparent when more NFL players decided to take a knee and protest a system of injustice and inequality of minorities and the Donald decided that he would weigh in. I had assumed like with most things we would see this episode in much the say way, I was wrong. My friend’s response to players taking a knee was surprising and honestly dismaying.

Over the years I had subconsciously stopped seeing him as a white guy, but hot-button social issues have a way of bringing race back to the forefront. I sat listening to him spewing talking points right off Fox News. Although he never served in the military (I did) he went on talking about how the players were disrespecting America and the men and women who served in the military, and how they should stand and honor the flag no matter what. As I listened to my friend who was beginning to sound a lot like Donald Trump It was clear to me that my America and his America were two totally separate places.

 

 

 

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The Concept of Race

race

Does race have any scientific validity, or is it a social construct without any biological meaning? Many mainstream scientists believe the latter. All modern humans originated in Africa and have only small variations in their genes. The race is understood to be a useful tool to elucidate human genetic diversity but is also understood to be a poorly defined marker of that diversity and an imprecise proxy for the relationship between ancestry and genetics (Gannon). Researchers of genomes from various parts of the world have found that there is no quantifiable genetic difference between people of African descent and those of European descent.

Even though there is no scientific proof to back up their theory many geneticists and social scientists still believe that human beings are genetically distinct and hold a special place in nature. There is no scientific validity when it comes to race and science. There is no biological gene that identifies a person by race. In the 19th and early 20th century, scientists believed “a race was the equivalent of a subspecies, so that it had meaningful biological utility (Ghose).

Race is a social constructed designed to place people into social boxes where they can be held down social and economically with privilege going to one group above others an example of this was Louis Agassiz and Samuel Morton’s book “Types of Mankind” (Understanding Race), Edward Long’s “History of Jamaica” where he viewed somewhere between whites and orangutans. In the 1820’s and 30’s, a Philadelphia physician named Samuel G. Morton collected and measured hundreds of human skulls to confirm that there were differences among the races. Morton was a proponent of polygenism, which theorized that the different races were different species, with separate origins. Morton assigned the highest brain capacity to Europeans—with the English highest of all. Although Morton was a scientist, he used his influence to make the case for black inferiority (Understanding Race).

Although there is clearly no scientific evidence or proof to support their claims that different races representing different species, proponents of the polygenist theory claimed to have believed that people of European decent represented those who were at the top of the hierarchy latter and those of African descent represented those at the bottom. Even Thomas Jefferson, founding father, and slave owner believed the misconception that blacks were a separate inferior species, “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind” (Understanding race).

Frederick Douglass challenged the leading theorists of the American School of Anthropology, work by early “race scientists” who tried to prove that blacks were not the same species as whites, and their attempt to rob people of color of their history by claiming that the rulers of ancient Egypt were not Africans. The ramification and intentional damage of this pseudoscience can still be felt throughout minority communities, in particularly African American communities to this day hundreds of years later African Americans are still struggling to break the chains of social bondage placed upon them so many years ago, by a system that was designed to minimize and dehumanize them and other minorities. The culture and true history of African Americans are often stolen or altered to fit a more mainstream white American palate. The reality is biologically we all are almost identical, but socially and culturally we are viewed differently, and often treated as such.

References

Gannon, M. (2016, February 5). Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue. Retrieved from

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/race-is-a-social-construct-scientists-argue/

Ghose, T. (2015, June 17). The science of Race. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/51245-what-is-ethnicity-racial-identity.html

The Paradox of Freedom and Slavery. Retrieved from http://www.understandingrace.org/history/gov/paradox.html

One Race or Several Species. Retrieved from http://www.understandingrace.org/history/science/one_race.html