person’s map of the world is as unique as the person’s thumbprint.
There are no two people alike. No two people who understand the same
sentence the same way…So in dealing with people, you try not to fit them
to your concept of what they should be.
—Milton Erickson, M.D.
Email Michael Nevin, Jr.
Dr. Erickson was a legendary figure and leading practitioner of medical hypnosis.
One of the many physical disabilities Erickson faced throughout his life
was color blindness. However, it may not have been much of a disability
since Erickson stressed that his own personal experiences helped to shape
his practical problem-solving techniques for his patients. Dr. Erickson
died in 1980 and one must ask: How far have we come?
Today, a battle continues to be waged over race. The battle extends
from racial preferences to racial data collection. Many of the same
people who would have you believe that police practice racial profiling adamantly
oppose ending such profiling when it comes to government classification by
race. It seems that race creates a spoils system where groups can gain
“points,” or special benefits, from such classification. But that comes
at a high price: sharp division and animosity among citizens. Just
as “Jim Crow” laws discriminated against blacks in this country into the
1960s, “affirmative action” creates a backlash of “negative reaction” today.
University of California Regent Ward Connerly is spearheading an effort in
California, the Racial Privacy Initiative. California's Proposition
54, on the October ballot, would prohibit state and local government from
collecting data on a person’s race, ethnicity, color or national origin.
It would still allow the use of racial classification in some instances including:
law enforcement identifying suspects and undercover assignments, prisons
assigning prisoners, action taken to maintain federal funding, and in the
case of “medical research subjects and patients.” The Legislature,
with a two-thirds majority in each house, and governor approval would allow
for other exemptions to serve a “compelling state interest.” The initiative,
Connerly says, “diminishes the identity politics that have come to define
how we live our lives. It brings public policy into line with the reality
of the fact that Californians are increasingly marrying across the old lines
of race and ethnicity, and having children, and thereby making the race boxes
essentially obsolete.” Connerly’s heritage is the following:
African, Irish, French Canadian and Choctaw Indian.
Our society is made up of a farrago of blurring racial mixes. In fact,
the world is full of examples in history that seemingly concur with this
treatise. Does each of us really know the complexity and origin of
our roots? The 2000 Census allowed people to identify one or more races
to indicate racial identity. It’s an arduous task to describe all the
categories listed, and census accuracy could never be attained. Tiger
Woods, the preeminent golfer in the world, has described himself as “Cablanasian”--
Caucasian, Black, and Asian. Does government have a right or significant
need to categorize Woods, Connerly, or you? One such time and place
where people argued in favor of racial identity was the antebellum South.
The “One-Drop” rule was imposed by wealthy Southern slaveholders who wanted
to increase their stable of enslaved Africans, so they mandated that anyone
with any African blood had to be a slave.
The confusing methods used today to categorize race are antiquated.
Americans deserve better. Rather than dividing and separating us into
neat, little cliques (albeit inaccurate), we need to remember one thing that
makes America so great: acculturation, or if you prefer, the “melting pot.”
Each of us offers a unique and individual perspective which allows us to
contribute and prosper in the freest country on earth. We shouldn’t
be pigeonholed to satisfy racial demagogues who benefit from conflict and
victimization. It seems a color-blind doctor figured that out a long
time ago. Maybe we can all start to see each other through the same
Michael Nevin is a California law enforcement officer.
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