Back in 2012 I was working at a Walmart in Blythewood, SC trying to make some money so I could pay my rent. It was my first ever job out of state and I was admittedly, less than excited to work there because, after all, it was Walmart. The people I worked with were mostly of African descent with darker skin tones, fuller lips, thick southern accents, and proud of it. A kind of pride I grew to admire over the years I spent in South Carolina and something I occasionally mimic every day as a way of remembering the amazing journey I got to experience. That’s right. I talk to myself sometimes in a thick southern accent so I can remember and embrace the cultural differences I got see and as a way of remembering what it was like to live in the south. But that’s neither here nor there.
While I was working at Walmart I met a guy whom I occasionally reported to. His name was James. He was about my height with a messy hairline, lighter skin, and a very easygoing demeanor. I remember one particular time where I asked James a question about racism. Well, it was more of a question about alleged instances of racism. I asked him if he knew of a place called Pillian, SC. He told me he knew of it, although I could tell he didn’t know of it very well. Then I explained to him that I heard they were “racist” over there; I heard that at certain restaurants they wouldn’t even serve me. As soon I mentioned race James said “you wanna race yo car?”. I smiled a little because I’m just such a humorous guy and I left it alone, but I was truly curious. I was a little disappointed I didn’t get a straight answer from James but it was ok because at least he made a joke that was funny. As many of the people of African descent that live in SC (that I’ve encountered) are good at doing. If there’s one thing I know people know how to do in Columbia, SC it’s have a good time.
If there’s one thing I know how to do it’s how to have a good time.
What Is Race?
I could just as easily share another relevant experience I had in an African Diaspora Anthropology class I took at USC where I was asked this very question. “What Is Race?” Plain and simple. My professor, Dr. Weik, had asked the class this question multiple times throughout the course and asked us to explain according to different assigned readings. Based on what we read we needed to answer this question. But it wasn’t until I did my own internet learning that I learned what race really is: a social construct. Actually, I learned this formally too. We are all the same species and that race is just a social construct based on that age old fear of the other. Naturally people are sometimes afraid, or perhaps unimpressed, of/by things that are different from themselves. Just as some people are afraid of spiders and some insects. Some people are taken back by outlandish customs and traditions. Just watch one of my favorite shows on Netflix An Idiot Abroad and you’ll see just what I mean. Look at all the variety in the world, isn’t it beautiful? Some might say yes then there are still some who hate that variety and desire to keep things under a certain control or order. Look at Donald Trump.
Biologically we are all human. Everyone knows that. I have a darker skin tone but if I were to have sex with a bleached blonde girl with green eyes and ejaculate inside of her vagina there’s a good chance I would get her pregnant with what would eventually grow into a human fetus. If a mixed dog or mut and a so called “pure bred” have sex you would most likely get a dog. I’ll talk more about artificial selection later. So race should be irrelevant, but it’s still sometimes a very big problem to people. Just look at the recorded police brutality that plagues a lot of different parts of the United States as the rest of the world watches. I once had a roommate from Germany who’s father was of African descent and he told me how ridiculous he thought race was. In Germany things weren’t the way they are here. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have the understanding I do now that he did at the time and it’s something I kind of regret. I looked at racist remarks from the guy who agitated me as threatening and totally crossing the line. I guess I should have known better and just laughed.
|“Racebent” picture of Ariel.|
As illusionary as race actually is it’s pretty sad that people today still have racist mentalities. Then again, some Indian women lean more towards dating caucasian and Indian men, not because they’re “racist”. They probably just find them more aesthetically pleasing to them. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. In terms of how living things, humans in particular, evolve over time it doesn’t really make a difference in an evolutionary sense. Someday power structures in the world might shift and those with darker skin around the world might be more desirable to most people than people with lighter skin. Not to say that people with dark skin are not sought after, just that people with darker skin are historically marginalized on a global scale. This was after all the gold was taken.
Although I won’t do it here, because I don’t have all the facts, allow yourself to investigate this question as far as you possibly can: What is race? Keep digging and tell people what you find. If you find that people are unaware of what you found, then share. Share your research so people know exactly what they’re dealing with when it comes to topics involving race. You don’t have to be an anthropologist. Truthfully, race is as important to me as how the Liberty Bell got cracked. Some might care but I don’t.