November 27, 2010

Major Minorities & Minor Majorities

A lot is made in our world about race relations. This has been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years. We try so hard to make everything fair and everyone equal. But have you ever noticed that we aren’t so diligent with individuals? Most people make much ado about some minor part of their racial make-up.

“I’m one-sixteenth Native American.”

“I have a little Polynesian blood in me.”

“I’m descended from a Cherokee princess.”

When Halle Berry won an Academy Award for Best Actress, it was a big deal because she was the “first black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar®”. President Obama is our “first black President”. In both cases, they have one white parent and one black, yet the minority side of their race is what they (or the press, or we) identify them as.

Why is the minority in us given dominance? Is it because we like to cheer for the underdog? Are we looking for sympathy or special treatment? Or do we want to highlight the hardships some of our predecessors had to endure?

As far as I know, I am 100% white man. I’m not necessarily proud of that. That’s simply who I am. When thinking about my family history, what I am proud of is the minority of people who truly did something revolutionary: the ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, the ancestors who fought in the Civil War, the ancestors who left family and friends to pioneer the western frontier, the ancestor who had a town named after him. Out of the 5,000 or so people currently listed in my family tree, a very small number of them did something brave, extraordinary or just original. These are the people I try to identify with and hope to find similar qualities in myself.

No comments: