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Recently some of you could have seen a debate on twitter I had with a very lovely man. We argued the topic of race and whilst we both raised interesting points, a bigger issue seemed to protrude and take over our debate. That is the issue of how to advance a society.
He argued, that we should be mindful of other’s feelings and opinions in order to prevent any discomfort, which is our primary goal and where we want to get to anyways. BY being mindful of our words, we are making everyone feel at ease and are getting closer to the Utopian society we strive for.
I disagree whole-heartedly.
Rather I stated that our society was like a shark. It had to keep moving forward, otherwise the shark would be at a standstill and die. The same is true for our society. We have to push one another constantly. It is only when we are outside our comfort zone (within restriction) that we can truly look ahead at what is to come. If we stop talking about issues such as race and politics, the issues bottle up and create such a severe divide in us, that our whole nation could fall apart around us.
Look at what is happening now. Our country is extremely divided over what some people feel is a racist President, and what others view as an “unpolished” President. We hate the other side so much, simply for the reason of the President mentioning skin color and religion when no one else had even said those words since the civil rights act. We kept our feelings bottled up for so long, and we feared what may happen if someone were to speak their full, uncensored mind. Whilst I do not agree with everything the President has said and the way he said it, I do, however think that he pushed the American people to be uncomfortable, and drives much needed conversation.
It’s not like I’m saying we should move our society from point A to point Z. Absolutely not. We should, however, systematically push people further and further out of their comfort zones, so we can all re-unite in our common ideals and move forward as one, unified nation.
Allow me to put some context behind what I am saying. Let’s say in the case of race. We can all agree that skin color does not mean anything other than it being another physical characteristic of your body. So why do we get all baffled and incoherent when we have to describe a person of color? We don’t get all baffled when we have to describe someone with blonde hair. The first step out of our comfort zone and towards properly identifying and fighting racism, is to attribute skin color to a physical trait. While I do understand the deep emotional meaning behind race and do not in any way condone the trivializing of those emotions and historical tragedies, we have to be able to separate the past and the present. Saying, “I met a really cute guy. He’s tall, black, brown hair, brown eyes..” is not inherently racist, and should not be treated with the shock that I’ve seen. We have probably all been told by our parents at least once “you can’t say that!” And they always seem so embarrassed and you feel that you too, should be embarrassed. But why is that?
There is nothing wrong with being a human being that is considerate of other people’s feelings. However, you have to understand being considerate does not advance us any way and holds our society back from where you actually want it to go. By pushing those around us outside of their comfort zone, and challenging them to do the same, we remove the shock value that comes from “taboo” ideas such as race. When we aren’t so shocked by race, we don’t even notice anything different between us and America as a result, is better.