On the Victory of Barack Obama in Iowa

A small portrait of the translator

February 5, 2008 @ 15:16 UTC

Written by

Barack Obama
Civil Rights & Ethnicity

Visual diversity means little.

The white man has convinced us, and some of their own no doubt, that they are a homogenous group. Believe me, if black people did not exist in the world, white people would get on with the far more important work of killing other white people. However, since we do exist and enter their space, we suffice as target practice.

You could have a perfectly mixed and ‘diversified’ sample, and have no actual diversity. Or put another way, a room full of white people can be incredibly diverse. In that room you may have some Jewish people, some from Russia, an Irish descendant from New York, English nobility and members of the Canadian working class and they would in all likelihood, disagree on everything. The myth of racial solidarity is exactly that: A Myth. It was created out of necessity in and around the Caribbean sugar plantations, and has persisted until today. I say this in the hope that Black people will stop talking about “white people” as if they were some monolithic political party, but also in the hope that I can remember to stop talking about “black people”.

If there were no white people in the world, Blackness would not matter, and we would then get to the more important work of remembering why we hate each other. Similarity of color means nothing. Two black people may have nothing to talk about and nothing else in common. The sooner this truth hits us, the sooner we can move on to more profitable stereotyping.

The smokescreen of visual diversity and the political cushion it provides should not be underestimated. People generally assume that color of skin comes along with an ideology. To be Black is to be liberal, and if one lives in the US, a democrat. Black people have rhythm, are athletic and listen to rap music. Right. We also assume that because a certain government administration has x amount of Blacks in high positions, x amount of Latinos, z amount of “non-white” people, it is diverse. You can hire as much of these people as you want and engineer complete visual diversity with every shade of skin under the sun and it could, I emphasize could, mean nothing. All of these visually diverse people who look nothing alike may be intellectual clones.

What does “multi-cultural” even mean? Again, a room full of white people can be multi-cultural. But multi-culturalism is the hot word of the day. The buzz word. Another useless plaything of a word that goes down smooth but has no nutritional value. It’s a politically-correct junk-food tortilla-chip of a word. Multi-culturalism, as far as I can see, only means visual diversity, which is only a useful gauge of telling how many black people are in a room, and as I am arguing, this doesn’t mean much.

I am not saying that we should throw away the quotas and the affirmative action policies; most bureaucrats in their more lucid moments will say that these programs encourage diversity, and perhaps they do. Since we live in a visual society and crave visual stimulation, I guess we will have to settle for visual diversity. Just don’t be surprised when everyone says the same things.

I offer you these observations only because they have occurred to me, not because I offer an alternative or even a point. Do you expect me to come up with everything? I am only a writer. I have no credentials other than what you have just read. If I had a PhD would it matter? Or would it take you that much longer to realize that I am full of shit?

If I have a point, it is this: there are forces that exist out there, forces that are shaping our minds, our opinions, our outlook, and the majority – regardless of color – are plugging in and zoning out. To be awake and alert takes effort, RADICAL effort. We need to forget what people say, forget what color they are and watch and remember what they do. The important thing is the degree of correlation between words and deeds. This process takes a lot longer. It takes a lot more work. Your mileage may vary. But maybe, just maybe, you will go a day longer without being duped.

Another one is born every day and I’d hate for it to be you.

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