Since the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency in 2008, more and more conversations about post-racial have been brought up. People suddenly turn their attention to race and ethnicity. They are wondering if America can be a post-racial society; they are doing all kinds of researches and data statistics gathering; they are discovering the possibility of human beings. Post-racial is a complicated concept and it does not have a specific definition. There are still many controversies and arguments and no one can be so sure about it. As an outsider, who comes from a different country and culture, I think America is already heading down the road to post-racial society from my observation during the time I have spent in here.
Looking superficially, America has a strong potential to be post-racial in terms of population. As of February 9, 2014, the United States has a total resident population of 317 million, making it the third-most populous country in the world. Among this huge number, non-white Americans takes a 28% share. Also, America is the country of immigrants. The Census Bureau estimates the US population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 397 million in 2050 with immigration, but only to 328 million with no immigration. Overall, the Pew Report predicts the population of the United States will rise from 296 million in 2005 to 438 million in 2050, with 82% of the increase from immigrants. As for now, America has been an overall peaceful and harmonious country among people with all kinds of race and ethnicity. Often, when I walk around the campus, sit in the school bus, or have class in big lecture hall, I will look the people around me and sigh for the diverse population America has, which seems magic to me because that kind of scene has never ever happened in my country.
The concept of race is changing over time to time. It not rests on the skin color one has or what language he or she speaks any more. It has become more complex and takes social, cultural and many other impacts in to consideration. Besides, because of intermarriage, people in America are now becoming so mixed in race that it is hard to tell from the appearance. For example, the in the article “The End of Race: Hawaii and the Mixing of Peoples”, Steve Olson mainly discusses the mixed race situation in Hawaii, how this new phenomenon has affected the islands and gives some new aspects of race, ethnicity and community. In addition, people can even choose their race by themselves. Olson claims that “The most remarkable aspect of ethnicity in Hawaii is its loose relation to biology; Many people have considerable latitude in choosing their ethnic affiliations” (343). Touré, in the first chapter “Forty Million Ways to Be Black” of his book “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?”, also states that “the beautiful diversity of Blackness is the most remarkable feature of a Blackness that we continue to try to quarantine” (5). He divides Blackness into three primary groups: introverted (accidental), ambiverted (incidental), extroverted (intentional). With these divisions, we can see the variety and diversity of race. Beyond Blackness, basic principles may apply to all different ethnicity.
People’s race is not consistent and it can be influenced and changed because of many factors. Amy Chua, the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School, is famous for her book “Tiger mother”, which describes her Chinese parenting way. When Western people are criticizing her way of teaching children, she stands up and speaks out. I think the race for people like her is hard to define. On one hand, she keeps Chinese traditional way of parenting. On the other hand, she has the American characteristics of being brave, challenging, and independent. I have known people with similar experiences. My aunt, who grows up in China, is now America citizen. Before she came to America, I bet, she definitely never though herself not as Chinese. However, now, her behavior and way of thinking are becoming so western and she defines herself as American. Once, she said to me, “I feel Long Island is more like my hometown than China. When I go back China, I don’t feel like home anymore”. As a result, people are changing consistently so do their race.
Tellingly, internet and multimedia have done great job in pushing America into the post-racial society. People now have easy access to countries all over world through network. We are not in the ancient era, when we barely know about other countries and culture. In the 21st century of technology stage, we have all the resources at hand through phones, tables, laptops. With Facebook and Twitter, we can meet friends from different countries and in different races. Chatting online with them or just checking their status and posts will give us realistic experience in the lives they live. With YouTube, we can make this cultural learning more fun through watching videos. (Just see how I and other students find the video we post) If we have the intention to learn about other culture, we will find plenty of opportunities within reach. If we learn more about other culture, we will have less discrimination, stereotypes, and unfair treatment towards people in different races. In this way, I believe, America will gradually become a peaceful and harmonious post-racial society.
In the end, quote from Deborah Plummer in her article “Creating Our Own Post-Racial Society”, that “A post-racial society is more like a continuous improvement process that requires incremental improvements over time rather than a ‘breakthrough’ improvement that happens all at once as the result of a black American as president. Each one of us has to be involved in the continuous improvement process examining our own attributes and owning our behaviors, thus reducing the anxiety associated with stereotype threat.”