Language and Post Racial America

Creative Writing Blog

It is hard to decide if America can become “truly post-racial”. It is difficult to take an optimistic view and say “yes, yes we can”, when there are so many instances and moments that makes one question if this ideal state can be achieved. The meme above is an example from personal experience. People assume that my last name, Gomez, means I am fluent in Spanish. When I tell them that is not the case, they say “oh thought you were Spanish”. I then explain that I am half Fillipino and half Polish, and I get responses like, “really, I would never think of that combination” or “you don’t look like either”. This makes me question why I have to look or act a specific way to fit someone else’s standards. This is why I question whether America can be post-racial.

Reading Toure’s chapter Forty Million Ways to be Black addresses this issue early on in his work. When he is talking about his sky-diving adventure, he was told that “Black people don’t do that”. It is this kind of attitude that factors into why America cannot be post racial. To have this desired state, the society as a whole has to fight the battle against stereotypes and assumptions. One cannot tell another individual what they can or cannot do due to race and ethnicity. When this occurs, racism will continue in a vicious cycle. Looking at the Buzzfeed article, many of the students at Fordham University prove that this is a large scale war, one that we cannot think is over. The most shocking part about the article is the word ‘what’. By asking people ‘what’ they are it degrades and dehumanizes them. To know that student face this aggression on a daily basis, proves that there is still something wrong regarding race and America. Yes, there may be governmental laws and policies that prevent discrimination, but there are none that stop the stereotyping, the slurs and so on. As long as these exist, a post racial America seems farther and farther away.

This was one of the countless commercials that made it’s debut during the Super Bowl this year. This was also one of the commercials that had the most news coverage after it premiere. The commercial itself highlights the diversity within America, having multiple languages singing ‘America the Beautiful’. Social media networks  were on fire, especially Twitter. Social media can complicate the conversation on post racial America. Just like blogging, it allows people to write to the public in a quick and easy manner. People can say what they feel or think, and publish it with the click of the mouse, or in some cases, a tap on the screen. This means it is much easier to spread stereotypes and racism. At the same time, social media can be helpful to the same conversation. People also took to Twitter and spoke on behalf of the soda company. This commercial was able to express that social media will always be a double edge sword. It happened to a commercial, it will happen for the next presidential election and so on. Coca Cola and social media were able to spark the conversation on where America stands on language, race, and how it effects the country over. James Poniewozik’s article sums up how one commercial explains how the diversity and language in America makes it unique and beautiful. He reminds the public that America is not built on a particular group of people, but a diverse country of people.

Overall, a post racial America is achievable. However, it will be another battle, one where people must be willing to drop the stereotypes, eliminate the labels, and avoid the assumptions. It means people need to know that words can be the tool to build this society to its post racial status, but can also be the weapons to knock it down. Deborah Plummer believes in a post racial America, even though hard work will be needed. I understand and agree with her outlook, but waiting for the moment where I do not have to explain my last name, makes the concept seem distant.

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One comment

  1. I agree with a lot of what you said about the current state of America today. We have laws that protect people from hate crimes, but it is the attitude of people towards other races that still remains and will only take education and time to diminish. This attitude deteriorates America’s path towards a post-racial society. I was also shocked about the amount of negativity towards the Coca-Cola advertisement during the Super Bowl. I would think that people would be proud to live in a country formed by a melting pot of cultures, but it seems as though many people resent the idea. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/09/coca-cola-super-bowl-ad-america-diversity

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