Why Whites Can’t ‘Get Over’ Color

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion: 

This is in reference to the article, Are Whites Too Sensitive?  I have read articles that this company has put out stating, What Not To Say To Blacks or What Not To Say To Latinos and so on.  How come all of a sudden there is an article written saying we (whites) are too sensitive? [Is this] just because, for once, in the last 4 months I have been signed up to receive these articles, there is an article about whites and what maybe some whites feel. 

 

I am a white female and I can tell you that I don’t talk about blacks for fear I will be called a racist or be called to the table, especially in the workplace, for discrimination.  We (whites), at my company, are not allowed to talk about blacks or any other ethnic group because we would get fired.  I will say that whites are very sensitive now because we are discriminated against.  Blacks can have the NAACP, BET (Black Entertainment Television), Black History Month, United Negro College Fund, etc.  If white people were to start something like the before mentioned there would be a huge uproar. 

 

I know there are white extremist groups out there but I am not talking about extremist groups.  Another point I would like to make is blacks that keep bringing up how their ancestors were slaves need to look a little more into history books.  Blacks were not the only ones who were slaves, all races have had slaves, and even whites.  I have heard many times from blacks in my community that they did not ask to come to America.  Well, my answer to that is of two fold…Nobody is forcing anyone to stay in America, you are free to leave whenever you please (and that is for every race), and, nobody took YOU personally from Africa or Asia or Spain or Italy or from anywhere else.  My ancestors are from other parts of the world and I am proud to be an American.  I would not have everything I have now if they decided to stay where they were.  

 

I love the fact that America is a big melting pot, full of color and different cultures. Why not embrace that instead of constantly bickering over it. We need to start looking into the future instead of constantly looking behind us and pointing the finger at people who were not even thought of in the times of slavery.  Yes, it was a terrible thing to have happened to anyone’s ancestors but until we get over the past we will never fully get along.  I teach my children not to see the color but to see the person. It is getting harder to do when all they hear about in the news, school, or articles is color.  Get over the color!  We are all Americans and instead of fighting between ourselves, we need to worry about turning our country back around.  There are important issues out there that if we do not address them and come together, then we could say goodbye to our freedom.  


Answer:

Thank you for your e-mail.  


As a member of the baby boomer generation, I found your e-mail to be a real blast from the past: Your one e-mail covered most of the race-based malarkey I heard growing up. Questioning this dogma may lead you to a better place – it did for me.


Given your current state, I would most strongly recommend you avoid racial discussions at work. This is good advice for most people. Your e-mail gives ample reason why many people will say something worthy of being fired. I don’t think you intended it to be offensive, but I’m afraid much of your e-mail is.


I’ll start with your comment about the NAACP, UNCF, etc. Black people founded these organizations to counter discrimination directed against them by white people. Keep in mind that the discrimination people faced today is NOTHING like the discrimination that existed when these organizations were founded. In our recent past, “discrimination” included thousands of African Americans being lynched and lawful bigotry like segregation.  

 

The UNCF was founded to support our nation’s network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities — the sole source of higher education for Black Americans until the 1960s. Black people had practically no access to “mainstream” higher education.


The NAACP was founded because legislation was passed in the early 20th century that prevented Black people from voting. Another reason the NAACP came together was lynching — until federal legislation was passed in the 1920s, thousands of Black people were murdered by hanging. The reason why federal legislation was important is that the local white-run law enforcement and judiciary proved to be incapable of prosecuting the white murderers. The NAACP was also instrumental in desegregating public higher education — with the help of the NAACP and the intercession of the federal government, James Meredith became the first Black student to be accepted to the University of Mississippi. He graduated in 1964.

 

Black Entertainment Television (BET) was launched and is still commercially viable because of the overwhelming lack of diversity in “mainstream” media. “Mainstream” media can be more accurately called white media. For example, there are practically no Black people featured in The New Yorker magazine, and no major Black characters on mega-hit television shows like “Friends” or “Seinfeld,” which were set in New York City (the city’s population is 26 percent Black).

 

A few years ago, a major retailer sponsored an entire issue of The New Yorker and ran New Yorker-style cartoons as ads. One of the ads was a subway scene with ALL white people (if you are familiar with New York, you will know that this is laughably impossible). This wasn’t an isolated mistake; around the same time, the parent company of The New Yorker mounted a sequence of billboards on a building in Manhattan. The theme was how people enjoy reading magazines. However, out of more than one dozen images, there was only one non-white person: an Asian woman looking at a magazine (with a white person on the cover). Now you know why there are magazines like Black Enterprise and JET.

 

Please don’t think this is isolated to one retailer or one publishing company. Exclusion of people of color is a consistent theme in media and the ad agency industry. For example, I recently visited another major New York media company, to discuss “diversity.” At the time, they had 35 corporate vice presidents, one white woman and 34 white men (all non-Latino). Representation like this takes real effort to accomplish in New York, a city whose population is 65 percent Black, Latino and Asian.

 

BET exists because “mainstream” media is exclusionary. It’s their loss: BET has earned hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars over the course of its existence.

 

I was sad to read your comment that you “have heard many times from blacks in my community that they did not ask to come to America.” You also say that if your ancestors did not immigrate to the United States, you “would not have everything I have now if they decided to stay where they were.” I was sad because you don’t have a good grasp of the history of our country that you (and I) are proud of.

 

With the exception of recent Black immigrants from countries in Africa, Black Americans — African Americans — are descendents of enslaved people. Enslaved people were taken here against their will and were subjected to the worst deprivations that people commit against each other. Tribal languages and histories were lost because white slavers forced families apart and purposefully prevented enslaved Black people from learning to read and write. Slavery lasted for more than 200 years in our country and legalized discrimination lasted almost another 100 years during the Jim Crow era. You may want to read up on this. I suggest Frederick Douglass’s “My Bondage and My Freedom” as a start. If you want to learn about one of our nation’s finest periods of history, I suggest you read the three books Taylor Branch recently wrote about the Civil Rights movement.

 

Your demand that we “Get over the color!” is an expression of white privilege. It’s only possible to “get over” it if you are in the majority culture. Assuming you’re white, YOU can “get over the color!” but it’s simply not possible for people of color to get over who they are, what that means and the damage our society has purposefully done over the centuries by color.

 

You close with an illuminating contradiction. You can’t celebrate “color and different cultures” and embrace the “melting pot” at the same time. The “melting pot” is about subjugating your culture and forcing a person to “melt” into the white culture.

 

Melting who you are into a pot is not what makes a person American. What makes a person an American is embracing our Constitution, which empowers and protects our individual ability to remain ourselves.

 

The power of our nation is that we have the ability to embrace other cultures while uniting under the principles of human and civil rights. Our country is not perfect, but it has consistently been better than most places on the planet.  There are HUGE disparities that are defined by what “color” a person is – and gender, disability, orientation, etc. I will also say that melting into a pot obliterates the advantages that different cultures and cultural approaches to problem solving contribute to innovation.

 

When you hear criticism, you may want to consider that it is displeasure over our country’s inability to completely live up to the promise – and potential – of what truly makes us American. The more we work toward that ideal, the more “we will get along.”

 

P.S.: I am withholding your name because it’s fairly unique and I’m sure you would be easily identified where you work. That’s not my concern — I just don’t want to dissuade other people who think like you do from writing us.

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30 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for a very enlightening article.

  • Anonymous

    I loved that answer. I could not have said that any better myself, kudos!

  • Anonymous

    I teach diversity and government and I joined this website for objective discussions and information on current national issues regarding diversity. I am disappointed to say I have found this website to be extremely biased on racism and it blatantly encourages dividing people based on race. The woman’s email above was actually promoting getting along no matter what race or religion someone is. The response to her was to say she is white and just doesn’t get it because she is white. This brings me to the same question: who really is the racist here in this situation? It is very clear to me and it was to my college students as well when I presented this. Believe it or not, my students are predominately African-American.

    • The problem “is” races. Racial categories were scientifically disproven in the 20th century. It separates Americans. Culture is what really distinguishes us. It is what made us before we became Americans in the first place, either through immigration or slavery. Race is what you need to get over, then we can be real equals.

      • Agreed, but once you understand that the culture of the former slaves was stripped from them, you begin to understand the depth of the cultural issues that America faces,

    • “…The response to her was to say she is white and just doesn’t get it because she is white. This brings me to the same question: who really is the racist here in this situation?”

      EXCELLENT!! My thoughts exactly!!

      • your comment is absolutely ignorant as to her question was in the first place.If white america would stop trying to hide its horrible past of slavery in which they do because they have taken it out of school books and media in which they control then she may have had a better understanding.For over 200 yrs of slavery, white america has profit and we have to work hard for what we get.main stream white america will not level the playing field,whites in law enforcement and the judicial system and corporate america make sure that we don’t.this is why we have the few organizations to help protect us.America was built of slavery,the wealth that you control was from us from our labor you should have picked your own cotton and farmed your own lands.what white people did and do to African american still to this day is just pure evil, calculating, arrogant and disgusting.And if you want to teach diversity you must first own up to the past and whats happening now and be held accountable. “WE DON’T COME FOR YOU ,YOU HOLD US DOWN AND COME FOR US!

    • Do you teach the fact that only Caucasian countries have it? 95% of the world rejects diversity including Israel and Japan. Are you anti-Semitic do you deny Israel rights as own country?

      • Luke Visconti

        I couldn’t care less what other countries do. And this isn’t a “Caucasian country.” Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • thank you anonymous as a black american I get tired of white people so worried about offending me. I believe the problem lies in the small population of people who like children become offended by everything and btw most of them are white and the stuff that offends them has nothing to do with them.

    • anonymous

      Thank you, that’s just what I was hearing in that e-mail. And; everytime a white person has an opinion on the race card we’re told that we are racist because our (white) opinion didn’t coincide with the (black) opinion!!!

  • Anonymous

    As someone finishing up a Master’s degree in European and Middle Eastern Studies, I have a pretty good handle on issues relating to cultural, racial, and religious diversity in the modern West. This article and others penned by Mr. Visconti have certainly been enlightening although not in the sense that is encouraging. Although Visconti “gets” white privilege and discrimination as well as your typical left-of-center American, as a CEO of a well-known business, his commentary receives greater weight than it deserves. This in itself is symptomatic of American culture which often conflates economic acumen with intellectual acuity. His analysis and treatment of race consists of a number of post-60s politically correct thematics recycled from corporate handbooks and political platforms–i.e., an old product rebranded, which probably explains his tendency to talk “at” whites who don’t get it, rather than with them. As a purportedly serious approach to interracial rapprochement, it is atrociously facile and simplistic. For instance, what makes an American and, indeed, a nation is a matter of ongoing debate in academic circles; telling people to “read the Constitution,” as if the answer to these things is just waiting for them there wrapped in gold paper, is a pathetic cop-out. As Visconti himself highlighted when addressing the melting pot vs celebrating diversity dichotomy, white Americans are subjected to numerous conflicting socio-cultural theories as to how they are supposed to relate to minorities, and indeed how America is supposed to walk that fine balance (and Mr. Visconti, it is a fine balance) between the appreciation for diversity and the prerequisite unity that a nation needs to remain viable. One need only refer to the bloody civil conflicts that have erupted worldwide to understand that national coherence is not a given, and no document in the world can make it so. Granted, Visconti is a businessman, not a scholar. But the fact that his simplistic viewpoint is given a mouthpiece not only through DiversityInc Media but outlets like the NYT is disappointing if not troublesome because it merely reflects the same tired “sinners and saints” mentality: those who read Visconti’s remarks will either already agree with their essence or will be given a virtual time out, complete with a link to one of his illustrious articles.

    • Simplistic as it may be, his analysis was accurate. You, however, seem to intellectualize to show how “learned” you “think” you are. As an African American woman, I will speak for ME. I have lived all over this country in both back and mixed communities. I am old enough to have experienced living as a child in the segregated south. Let me speak to racism and the residual effects of slavery, Jim Crow and illegal Jim Crow. Lets just look at standards of beauty – as a child, I never saw a Black doll until I was maybe 10 years old. My mother finally found one and brought it home. Magazines never showed models, singers, actors, professionals, etc., that looked like “US”. Although our parents supported us, we lived in a world that we KNEW, we were not totally a part of. From all forms of media, the message was that Black people were inferior and did not meet the “nations” standard of beauty. White children did not experience that kind of assault on their being. For years and years afterward, i struggled with my identity. When I had children, I struggled with making sure my daughter was told every day how pretty she was. In spite of my efforts, she asked me the same question I had asked my mother years before, “Mom, why are there no Black women who look like me in these magazines?” It clearly remained a struggle for her. My sons I would tell not to ride in a car with more than one other Black friend because of the likelihood that they would be pulled over by the police and might end up in jail or dead for “Driving while Black”. White mother’s don’t have to worry about that and their sons don’t grow up knowing they are considered “different.”. As recently as last year while visiting my son, he was stopped for no reason other than “driving while Black”. When asked why he was stopped the officer would not reply other than to say, he wanted to see his driver’s license and registration and asked whether the car was his or not. The car was a mercedes as though we aren’t supposed to have one. The New York Civil Rights Commission did a study maybe 10-15 years ago where they followed the daily activities of a Black and white tester to see whether there was a difference in treatment, just in daily life. They reported that in EVERY SINGLE instance, the white tester was treated more favorably than the Black tester – renting apartments, buying cars, employment etc., etc., In the past 5 or so years, a study was done on Black and white felons looking for work after getting out of jail. Not onlly were the white felons called backj more often than the Black felons were, but they were called back more often than Black men with NO records. I could go ON and On and On but why? White privilege does exist TODAY and whites still refuse to accept that you reap the benefits of a racist system even if you didn’t set up the system. The fifty year old doll test given young children was repeated in a harlem school a few years ago. The results were so similar it was frightening – black children choosing the white dolls as the pretty and smart dolls and the black dolls (like them) as the ugly dolls. Speaks to the systemic conditioning of Blacks at a young age to see themselves as “LESSER” than whites. As simple as it is, “YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHAT YOU DON’T ACKNOWLEDGE” even with all of your learning.

    • You claim some expert but you post as anonymous so your degrees and titles can’t be certified makes me believe you are hiding or lying. You and this hold idea of posting without credentials is toxic for discussion if you feel a certain way let the world know

  • Anonymous

    I think that it is very unfortunate and telling that the person who teaches diversity and government agrees with the women who originally wrote this article. While Luke Visconti might not be a “scholar” (whatever that antiquated and haughty comment actually means), he is absolutely true that prescribing to a color-blind mode of thinking is inherently racist. To the orginal woman and the person who teaches diversity, your line of thinking comes directly from privilege. Color-blind proponents always seem to misunderstand that diversity is not achieved by minimilizing racial differences and forcing people of color to assimilate into white culture, but rather understand and affirming the different experiences that people in America experience because of their race. Only once people understand how race still plays out today, and not before then, can people achieve true diversity (which isn’t minimilizing differences, but leveraging them).

    I would suggest to the “scholar” and also to the diversity teacher that you look for more qualified people to speak on race. Unfortuantely, it seems as if for one of you your education has failed you and another you are perpetuating a false reality…

  • The true secret to it all is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  • There is a division between blacks and whites because there is a misunderstanding of the to cultures. I blame media. Whites are portrayed as having had everything handed to them on a silver platter while blacks have to work hard for everything. Blacks are considered hostile whites are considered calm and collected. Instead of everyone considering their selves as equals they choose to see the difference instead of the likeness. What people need to understand is we are all one we bleed red we all have problems we are all the same.

  • I also am a woman of color and damn proud of it!!! I know how you feel about our ancestors beings enslaved but o feel sad for them but how can I live a fulfilling life if all I do is dwell on the past? I have chosen to teach my children that was the past this is the future!! God bless

  • I agree with Maria we can not dwell on the past. With that said there is a difference between learning from the past and dwelling on the past. You need to learn not to make the same mistakes that was made in the past but do not live in the past. I am white, most of my family came from Germany during WW2 to escape from Hitler’s beliefs. They were not even in the country when slavery was allowed. The members of my family that was here during slavery were black slaves. So what am I a privileged white, or a poor black (since the media and people that live in the past would have me believe that is the only things I could be.) In truth I am neither! I am an American trying to live and support my family. The same as most people in OUR country.

    • Luke Visconti

      You have the luxury of “not dwelling on the past.” And, yes, you have white privilege. You should be more respectful. Enslaved Black people are a major economic reason why your family had a place to flee to. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • Ron White

    There is STILL one part missing in all of this talk about diversity and blacks and whites. First of all, I live in Ferguson, MO. I am sure you are familiar with the Mike Brown shooting. All I hear is White Cop shot a poor unarmed Black boy. Come on people, put the blame where it belongs. Our own people are burning and tearing up our own city. Why? We have to take responsibility.
    This was not an incident involving a “Gentle Giant” as his Mom claims, the kid was a thug. In trouble with the law in the past and present. If he would have simply stopped when the officer told him to, submitted to the charge of stealing, he would have got off easy. Instead, he chose to walk away, dis obeying the officers command and even attacking the officer. Mike is dead because of Mike, as are others. When you are told to do something by a police officer, society says, “Do it!” Get out of the middle of the street when told to do so, not only for your own sake but because you were told to do so by a police officer. When an officer tells you to get down on the ground or to put your hands behind your back because he/she needs to handcuff you for a temporary restraint until whatever is going on is cleared up, “Do it!” Don’t walk around like a thug and then expect to be treated as anything but. Cops have to be very cautious, drive by’s, shootings, drugs are not privy only to the black neighborhoods like us but lets face it, it IS more prevalent in some communities than others so the cops have to be on alert.
    So lets quit blaming everyone else, lets teach our kids to do better, it is my son’s right to walk around on a 80 degree day wearing a “Hoodie” with his ass sticking out of his pants and his under ware up to his waist. It is indeed his Right, but if he looks suspicious he is going to get stopped by the police that have been given a description as a black male, jeans pulled down low, wearing a blue hoodie just robbed a store. Now if he get’s stopped or asked to stop by a police Officer and he chooses to dis obey that lawfull order, it could lead to his death. In other words, he died while doing what he felt he could do as a young black man, but don’t you get it? He DIED! All he had to do was obey the lawful order. Burning businesses, blocking highways so people cannot get to work, including Emergency room workers and the like and turning over Police cars and setting them on fire, Yes. That really helps us to look better to the world as a race. Looters, stealing from this neighborhood where we live, yea, that helps too. Come on parents, sit your child down, have a long talk with them. We can’t keep blaming the police for doing their job. Who do we call when things go bad? The cops. Then when they get there and things get rough and some black man gets shot or riughed up by the police we want to riot? Come on people. Let’s, as parents, change all this.

    • Luke Visconti

      “Come on, people” yourself, nitwit. Wilson’s grand-jury statement read a few brain cells short of average. The dope had a car, a gun, a badge, backup on the way—and with all of those advantages couldn’t outthink or outmaneuver a teenager. And after all this time to think about it, all the coaching he received and with all the benefits of having the deck stacked in his favor by the system, when asked if he could have done anything differently, all Officer Dumbo could say was no. And the imbecile wasn’t alone. The most basic chain-of-evidence rules were not used. Officer A-Few-Cards-Short-of-a-Full-Deck was allowed to turn in his own gun AFTER leaving the scene. His incident report was blank. The official coroner couldn’t take pictures because his camera’s batteries weren’t charged. That this clown car full of incompetents couldn’t keep drugs off the streets is hardly a surprise. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • I thought your article and the subsequent posts would be informative and interesting, but instead I realize that you are just a self promoting bully who attempts to intimidate people by attempting to demean them because their opinions are different than yours. Seems quite similar to something similar to ‘racism’ because you are degrading someone because their opinion is different than yours. My impression of you now is “My oh my aren’t you the important one” …. and by one I mean you are just a blowhard and a snob.

        Because you didn’t directly respond to many of the parts of the post by Ron White, I need to assume that you feel Michael Brown had no responsibility in escalating the situation and his being shot. So what would you have done if you had Michael Brown climb through your vehicle window attempting to get your gun? Thrown your badge at him? What would you have done when MB started coming back at you after trying to get your gun? Driven your car away? What would you have done with MB coming back at you? Called a time out and waited for back up? What would you have done with MB coming through your window after your gun? Told him that was not nice and to get away?

        Because you didn’t respond regarding the rioting and looting it seems that you agree that is a proper response for people in the community. What did the business’ do to deserve to have their businesses burned? Some businesses had fund raising benefits for the Brown family and their businesses were then burned by the looters. The store owner or manager, who was bullied and pushed around by Michael Brown, and whose business Michael Brown stole from had his store burned and looted.

        I can imagine a few mistakes were made – you mention the coroner’s camera, the incident report, etc. Is any of that relative to the fact of the important parts of this incident? The important parts are – Michael Brown committed a theft, roughed up the innocent store owner, attacked a police officer in his car attempting to get his gun and failed to follow the officer’s direction, after committing a crime, in order to keep himself (MB) alive.

        So it is the officer’s fault that there are drugs on the streets? It has nothing to do with drug dealers? Probably the officer’s fault that black on black crime and the leading cause of death for young black men is other young black men shooting them?

        • Luke Visconti

          There’s no proof that Michael Brown reached into the police car. There was no evidence of fingerprints on Wilson’s gun because no prints were taken.

          The “important parts” you cite are nonsense. Mike Brown roughed up a store owner and took $10 worth of cigars. We know that because there is a video record. After that, there is no evidence. None. The prosecutor used the grand jury to try the case because none of the evidence he had would stand up in court. None of it.

          Here are some “important parts” we actually know: We know an unarmed teenager was shot six times and killed. We know investigators did not take fingerprints, blood samples or measurements. We know there were no powder burns where Mike Brown was shot—and we know he was shot in areas that were not covered by clothing. We know from video evidence that the shooting was probably from more than 100 feet. We know that Wilson submitted a blank incident report. We know that nobody was fired for this debacle. We know the community rioted, which was apparently a direct result of how the community was treated over a long period of time. Mike Brown’s getting shot and left in the street, uncovered, for four hours was a flashpoint. It’s interesting that the excuse for leaving him way out there like a
          dead squirrel was that they were collecting evidence. But the medical investigator didn’t have batteries in his camera and decided not to measure the crime scene. Mike Brown was left out there to send a message to the community.

          Here are some more “important parts”: The police chief was unable to protect private property, despite having armored vehicles, tear gas and police from all over the county.

          As far as the rest of what you posted, 84 percent of crime on white people is committed by other white people, and the leading cause of violent death of white people is other white people. The War on Drugs is being planned and run almost entirely by white people, and drugs are more plentiful and less expensive than they were when white people started the War on Drugs 40 years ago. Drugs had nothing to do with either Mike Brown being shot or the rioting. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • None of you are “AMERICANS” you are all descendants from Europeans and other nations. The true Americans are the American Indians tribes. You can go back to Europe now.
    Thanks

    • I wonder how long it would take for this Nation to become a Third World country if Whites returned to Europe? You can see what happened to South Africa when Whites were forced out. You might also look at virtually any other country where Nonwhites are in control. The result is quite evident. BTW, I’m not White.

      • Luke Visconti

        I wonder how much china a china shop could sell after a bull ran through it? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

  • The millions of European immigrants who entered the US through ports such as Ellis Island early in the 20th century were escaping war, persecution, ethnic cleansing, poverty, bigotry, predjudice, racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing in the countries they fled from. These immigrants built their new lives in the US from the ground up by dedicating themselves to faith, family, community and work. They were not privileged at all, and were often homeless refugees, broken families decimated by war and disease.

    In the 17th and 18th century, immigrants from the UK and France arrived in North America to a life of indentured servitude. Although they were not bought and sold as chattel the way kidnapped Africans were, they were contractually bound to their masters to provide their labour and military service under penalty of deportation, death, banishment. As an extension of the ancient system of Serfdom, some were bound for life while others could “earn” their freedom by fulfilling their labour contract.

    Amongst the earliest colonists were the Pilgrims and Puritans, both groups of whom were targeted for lawful discrimination for their faith and political beliefs in 17th century Engkand. Many of them spent years in exile in the Netherlands before agreeing to indentured servitude for colonial masters in the Americas as a way to escape their situation.

    During the American Civil War young male European immigrants were immediately pressed into military service to fight the Confederacy, their imminent death sealed as soon as they stepped off the boat.

    None of this trivializes or disrespects the horrific history of people whose ancestors were captured by African slavers and sold to Europeans to provide labour in the New World. The very word, “slave”, is derived from the Roman trade in Slavic Caucasians from Eastern Europe.

    My own family history includes Africans,
    Europeans and Native Americans. My modern extended family includes Asians as well. Regardless of racial origin, some have prospered more than others. I believe that once society can abandon “race” as a means of distinguishing one people from another in a societal context, everyone can move forward in unity. My family has been doing it in North America for nearly 400 years. We are not watered down or hyphenated Anericans. Had we not been able to embrace our differences for the sake of our common survival so long ago, I would not be here today. I’m grateful to all of them.

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