Mike, I am not sure if you are making the argument that “there is no such thing as race” in a very subtle way, but if you are it is so subtle I am going to assume you aren’t. Just Google that phrase, if you are interested in that topic.

In a systemically racist society (which is every society on earth), it’s not realistic to ask everyone to agree to ignore race. It would be like asking everyone to ignore gravity. Even if people agreed with you, they still would not behave as if race does not exist. Humans are instinctively tribal. The idea that children need to be taught to be racist is false. We all have a natural fear of the other and have to learn through experience and nurturing to suppress that fear. Race is not something we can just all agree to ignore. Even laws against racist behavior do not make racist beliefs not exist. In the UK imagine that everyone decides that class does not matter. It still will. It is part of the fabric of society.

In America, it is really not that long ago that racism was the law, through slavery and Jim Crow laws. There’s certainly been progress, but there is still inequality of opportunity based on race. A higher percentage of black people your age grow up disadvantaged than white people. (Yes, there are some black people with great advantages and some whites who are very disadvantaged). Some would say that it is the fault of black culture. But then I ask how did black culture get that way? Is it a cause or a symptom? It may be an advantage, but not enough.

What you hear about in the global news is exceptional cases of horrendous acts. They are tragic for those directly involved. But the even greater tragedy that does not get reported as much is the systemic problem of unequal opportunity in general and how that inequality is still racially skewed. And why is it racially skewed? The collective harm is greater and the tragic events are just that. In fact, the reporting can sometimes make racism worse, e.g. #ALLLIVESMATTER and the death rates for whites when apprehended. Wrong debate !!

As I said, it is really complicated. I’m glad you are learning about our natural fear of “the other” in school. It is the same basic instinct.

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