By David Nurkkala | Contributor
If you've found it within you to look past the evocative title and all of the assumptions you've carried past it, I applaud you. To assuage your fears, let me preface my short essay with this: I believe racist behavior is evil, immoral, unjust and condemned by everything I believe as a Christian. I believe that race is (or, rather, should be) largely unimportant and irrelevant to our society. As an individual, I really don't care what color your skin is or where you come from, because I believe these things do not (or, rather, should not) affect who you are in any noticeable way. What I care about is who you are within. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said (paraphrased): "I have a dream that someday, we will be judged by the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin."
One of the reasons I write is to contest something that was published in The Echo's Opinions section a number of weeks ago. It was a short article, and it stated something that I found rather disagreeable: when has a problem ever gone away because you ignored it? This is a paraphrase, but it was used to describe the author's belief that in order to fix racism in our society, we must address it, talk about it and confront it. I think the author and I would agree in one aspect of this: we must condemn and legally prosecute those that harm others' health, property or opportunity due to racism. But from my point of view, we should stop talking about race as a general concept, as if it is something that permeates our society or as if it is something that matters.
Hear me out, if you would. Trust me when I say we're on the same side. I'm inspired by something that Morgan Freeman, a prominent actor in Hollywood, said to an interviewer once on a news broadcast: "I'm going to stop calling you a white man, and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man." I believe this is exactly the kind of methodology we should employ. If we believe that race is unimportant to the value of a person, and that instead their personal character is what defines them, why do we care about race at all? I think that spawning these many discussions on race only serves to cause people to think that race is important, something that I believe should be avoided.
No one is born racist, as found by Harvard researcher Mahzarin Banaji in a 2012 paper. With this in mind, why should we teach our peers and children that race matters and undermine this natural state? I don't believe this is the intention of these discussions, but I believe there is an unintended consequence of these discussions: a message that teaches race is important. Again, I believe this is harmful to our society. I've been to a lot of places and I've met a lot of people, and that's just what they are: people. Their color and their ancestors are irrelevant to me. It doesn't make me uncomfortable; it doesn't make me afraid; it doesn't make me feel anything. To suggest that it does only serves to widen the chasm that I believe was artificially created in the first place.
When has a problem gone away by ignoring it? Think about a rash. The more you scratch, the longer it lasts; the worse it gets. Race and racism are a rash on our society. Talking about it so much in such a way that makes it seem important is scratching it. If we continue in this way, I believe it will only last longer and get worse. So, I implore you, reader, stop scratching, and it will heal on its own.