Striving toward racial equality

As society strives to achieve equality for all people, it seems that each stride is shorter and more difficult than the last. Western culture has come a long way in recognizing the humanity of each and every person, progressing from the submission of races to the abolishment of de jure racism. But with the abolishment of legalized discrimination comes a tougher, more daunting challenge: abolishing the discrimination that exists within ourselves.

Racial prejudice continues to haunt the recesses of the consciousness of both society and individuals. Hatred reared its head on campus recently in the vandalism on a wall in McGuire Hall involving the use of the “n” word. No law prevented this hate crime and no law ever will. Only a personal change – a change of both mind and heart can – make this individual realize the ugliness of this inexcusable crime. That graffiti wasn’t just vandalism. It was a gross, biting insult to those who fought for equality – the Martin Luther King Jrs., the Rosa Parkses and the Harriet Tubmans – and stands as an offense to every person who works for justice and equality. Racism is not a joke.

On Sunday, the fact that a black coach won the Super Bowl made the headlines. We hope that one day the skin color of a coach won’t matter. For now, defining a person by skin color seems necessary as society strives toward equality. However, society overemphasizes the color of a person’s skin. Why does it carry more weight than the color of a person’s eyes or hair? Skin color is only given such weight because it is the most visible and outward sign that can be used to categorize a person.

Identification of people by skin color disrespects their individuality and their heritage. Their heritage is not their skin color, it is culture, tradition, ancestry and values. Experience, talent, family, friends and ways of life are far better measures of a person’s background and individual history than skin color.

As a society we continue to struggle with race and skin color. However, the mission of every person must be to look deep inside himself or herself to root out deeply-seeded prejudices and battle the demons of racism. We need to see people not as black, white, red, yellow, brown or any color, but rather as individuals with their own stories, histories and heritages.