The very language of race is outdated and counterproductive. The truth is that when we speak about different races we are really speaking about different ethnicities, and I believe speaking about other human beings as if they were of a different race in fact makes it easier for racism to develop and flourish. After all, if you are of a different race – say a cow, for example – then you really cannot be the same as me because we are fundamentally different. The truth is that the people we currently speak of as being of a different race are of the same race but rather their ancestors are merely from another country than ours. That’s hardly the stuff of irreconcilable differences, but our choice to continue to use a primitive and outdated language around those differences only serves to create false perceptions and even hatred.
Are there individual differences? Absolutely, and to insist otherwise is to be at best naive and at worst disingenuous. However, I believe that when we insist that human beings are fundamentally and irreconcilably different is not only wrong, but it creates the very problems we are struggling with today in Ferguson, MO. The question is whether or not we can shift the culture so that we might address the real issues. I confess I am skeptical, because many of us on all sides of the equation are substantially invested in maintaining the status quo – and that’s the real problem.