Melting Pot Indeed, But Whose the Chef?

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The internet is a tool; a powerful resource that offers the people of America access to millions, quite possibly hundreds of millions, of databases stuffed to the brim with information that was, at one time, not accessible to the general public. However, Americans have taken advantage of this magnificent tool and turned it into a malignant crutch.  Today, people use the internet as a mask; they hide behind their computer screen, aggressively declaring their beliefs and ideas that would not be socially accepted in the real world. Perhaps this is because  “the stakes may be perceived to be low [for] online spaces(especially anonymous or semi-anonymous ones) [so they] may be treated as ‘safe’ places to explore identities,work through personal issues, or even ‘act out’ unresolved conflicts.” Sadly, these personal conflicts and issues are often matters of race, a conflict the United States has been trying to confront and amend since the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. One must stop and ask however,  why, almost 55 years after the Civil Rights Movement is affirmative action one of our only solutions to the continuing struggles with color and culture? Why haven’t the derogatory beliefs and acts, such as racial profiling, of United States citizens diminished? The answer lies within something most, in fact 73%  of, people do everyday: social media on the internet.

In response to the commentators who had thought the election of President Obama in 2008 would lead to a post-racial society, I firmly believe that they were imagining a Utopian state that the United States of America will, sadly, never achieve. Being that social media is relatively new, with a long life ahead of it, it only makes sense for both companies and individuals to take advantage of this crutch to subliminally market their products and ideas from the safety of a computer screen. Consequently, we are subject to ads, promotions,  and videos that use subliminal  signifiers that cause the audience to profile certain types of races. These signifiers subliminally discriminate by demonstrating who should use what products, what physique is expected of certain cultures, what is expected of what socioeconomic class, and even what kind of families are acceptable.  These subliminal messages are so effective that some African-American women feel the need to relocate to more “white” areas and even wear blonde wigs and  blue eye contacts to be seen as an equal. Other colored women, who are not so radical,  feel mentally pressured to asterisk their racial description in fear that they may not be perceived as “‘Black enough’: I’m black, but (asterisk) I love Guns N’ Roses. I’m black, but (asterisk) I can watch Professional Bull Riding for hours. I’m black but (asterisk) I’m still looking for someone to teach me how to Dougie.”   Comedian Joe Wong touches more on the topic of racial profiling felt by those who are of different races in America:

In response to the effects of social media listed above, I believe that Toure has explained the current state of American society perfectly: “we are in a post-Black era, which means simply that the definitions and boundaries are expanding in forty million directions … post-Black does not mean post racial,[which] posits that race does not exist.. it’s a bankrupt concept that reflects a naive understanding of race in America… but our community is too diverse , complex, imaginative, dynamic, fluid, creative, and beautiful to impose restraints on Blackness.” From this, one must question, what if it was actually Toure’s explanation that is too complex, imaginative, dynamic, fluid, creative  and beautiful to have restraints placed  on it? Perhaps, Toure is not just talking about the definitions and boundaries of being Black expanding. Perchance, Toure is insinuating that the definitions and boundaries of being American are expanding, and therefore we need to accept that race and racism will forever be a constant in these expanding definitions.

Considering how social media furthers racial profiling in the United States, I must now question, if America claims one of its strengths to be its melting pot foundation with limitless boundaries of backgrounds, then why do women of color wish they were white and people like Joe Wong use comedy to ease the rejection they feel from America’s society? Why does Toure believe that racism will always be a part of America’s society, regardless of our expanding definitions? Perhaps, social media is America’s new way of affirming who is in charge of stirring our “melting pot,” and racism is the special ingredient that brings the stew to a boil.

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2 comments

  1. Reading over the idea of people needing to express their feelings in low stakes situations makes me wonder why some people chose to express those feelings outwardly while others don’t. Of course the ideas are racist/prejudice/ignorant all the same but it seems like the different modes of expression might say something about that individual’s deeper problems.

  2. Your title of your post immediately drew me in to read it, because it’s true! Who stirs our melting pot? Who determines what the “ingredients” are and how many of us are in it? I liked that you referred to social media as the gateway to post our beliefs about this topic and act as a crutch. I do believe people think of social media too casually sometimes and do not think before they post. In fact I know of someone actually losing their job over a racist/judgmental comment they posted and the company did not want representation in this way. Here is a link to an article of a story Rutgers students know all to well. It is about the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a classic example of the consequences one can face when they do not think before posting something racist/homophobic online: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/tyler_clementi/index.html

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