Demonstrators take to the streets to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis while in police custody. (Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire)
Demonstrators take to the streets to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis while in police custody. (Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire)

Race is a pseudoscientific false classification that describes physical traits, origin, classification and preferences. Since as far back as the 17th century, these classifications included:

Negroid [Black]
Australoid [Australian]
Mongoloid [Oriental]
Caucasoid [White]

Of course, in the 17th century, these classifications were schemed to demonstrate Caucasian superiority and supremacy. Europe, particularly the two dominant superpowers — Britain and France — justified colonialism through spreading cultural dominance and describing the rest of the world in barbaric terms. Colonialism, from a white superiority lens, brought order to a chaotic dark world. This framing gave credence to Europe as global power.

David C. Harrington

From the Beginning [Kendi], these classifications served a purpose: to force, by any means, European civilization upon people and places whose culture was seen as deviant and uncivil. Whether through religion or philosophy, European colonialism sought to extol their quest as holy and righteous-freeing dark peoples from their barbaric ways. Scripture and other so-called religious documents gave credence to spread the gospel of servitude and submission. “Slaves submit yourselves to your masters” was the clarion call to subjugation. This false doctrine followed by unmitigated violence were the seeds of anti-Black racism. Anti-Black racism, than is a system of beliefs and tactics intended on purporting the superiority and supremacy of white people. In purporting this notion, racism manufactures notions of racial inferiority, institutional policies and cultural norms that intentionally promote segregation over civil and economic equity.

Even under the guise of “all men are created equal” the slavery enterprise was in full throttle; in fact, slavery would continue for almost another 100 years. The Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth, did little to curb white supremacy’s reign to lock out freed Blacks from voting, owning property and peacefully assembling. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the bombing of Black Wall Street in Greenwood Oklahoma, lynchings, incarcerations, and segregation are but a few tactics that grounded racism in this country’s early founding.

Imagine, if racial classification did not exist, instead, replaced with one category – humans. All of us would be seen as humans with different life habits based somewhat on geography rather than this false notion of race. Pseudoscientists approach then to culture and geography would be equal life expressions absent of any superiority or dominance. Imagine instead of acculturation and melting, difference was sustained and celebrated. We perhaps would be at a different place where everyone is equal.

Needed is an appreciation of culture which could serve as the building block to a civic identity. We can be different and still expect our rights to be affirmed. Civic identity derives from our constitutional values that recognize citizenship and community as essential to a participatory democracy. Civic identity encourages community participation in the form of voting, attending community meetings and volunteering in civic institutions. As such, as Robert Putnam put it, we are “bowling together” recognizing our collective interest and working toward community and democracy.

Protests are part of our civic identity in operation. When a wrong is seen, protests are used to remind the country of its founding values and force a conversation on how these values can move away from segregation to equity. Recent protests have seen a multicultural intense alignment on pushing for a new community; a community that deconstructs racism for the purpose of annihilating segregation and instilling justice for all. Just imagine, we are a community forged by a common agenda of rights, responsibility and fairness. We are a long way away, but recent protests and policies can rectify this country’s racial sins and move to a more perfect union.

Isn’t this what this country should be all about?!

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David C. Harrington is president and CEO of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce.

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