We are more the same than we are different

I have a printer that seldom rests due to the nature of my work.
It spews out pages quickly and efficiently because it doesn’t have to worry about colour. It is a black-only printer and I opted for such because of the savings on ink and the speed.
I printed off a photo yesterday as part of the research I am in the midst of doing. I stared at the black and white image for some time, my mind circling around one simple fact: Everyone looked the same. There was no colour, no race.
I don’t mean to imply there were no differing features, but what we have incorrectly done over the last three or more centuries is to equate colour with race. The two really have no connection.
We have no problem calling a rose a rose regardless of whether it is white or red or yellow. It is a rose.
We have no issue with a yellow daisy or a purple crocus or a red geranium all being flowers, yet we seem determined to think the colour of our skin distinguishes our category of human-ness.
Nell Irvin Painter wrote The History of White People, published in the United States in 2010, in an attempt to explain the root of the false notion of white superiority.
Nell is a Professor of American History at Princeton University. She explains that there is “no scientific basis for race.”
If we look across the spectrum of humans, examining colour and birth origins, we discover that our DNA is 99.9 percent the same. So why do we look at each other searching out our differences when our sameness is far more tangible.
To build a community of superior beings, as what seems to be raising its ugly head in North America with white supremacy finding new life, is a bit like inviting all those who have a Spider-Man costume to form a league of super heroes who can stick to buildings.
The truth is the costume is merely a covering and underneath there is no distinction, superhero or otherwise. Being white was an invention of the 18th century, during the “Age of Enlightenment.”
Nell explained that we tend to think of slavery as a concept of race, whereas slavery in Europe had gone on for millennia and had nothing to do with race and everything to do with being a conquered people.
Racism has always found its strength in those fearing the loss of racial purity, when in essence there is no such thing.
This is much too complex a discussion to wield here.
Many of us ask how we can fight the notion of white superiority and how can we contribute to breaking down racial barriers.
There is a sense of shame for some in the “white” community, feeling we played a role in the abuse of non-whites by virtue of the colour of our skin.
Nell Irvin Painter says, “Educate yourself!”
She says it is not up to those who have suffered loss and lived in the perils of racism to educate us about how that loss happened and what racism has done to interrupt the natural development of its children.
So I ask myself, how will I do that, how can I educate myself about those atrocities that have left so many of us broken.
wendistewart@live.ca

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