Just What Does Post-Racial Mean

My wife and I recently spent time with some good friends, whom we’ve known for years, in a New England beach town. At dinner, the host made a comment about each couple at the table. When it came to us, he said “Our African-American friends.” While our host said it as a passing joke, it sparked a lively but unintended conversation. It rambled from race relations, to American foreign policy, to JFK (don’t ask, still haven’t figured that out yet).

It did get me thinking about race relations and just what it means to be post-racial and if that is a good thing. I looked up post-racial in my favorite online dictionary, Urban Dictionary. They define it as:

A term used to describe a society or time period in which discussions around race and racism have been deemed no longer relevant to current social dynamics. Popularized after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States of America in 2009.

Can’t imagine we will ever get there, nor am I so sure we should on the first part. One of the guests who lived overseas for part of her life, described how race/color wasn’t seen nor ever an issue. While that is laudable, it is not a world in which I want to live or think we should live in. What I would like to see is a world that recognizes our differences and celebrates them.

In a prior life, I traveled extensively for my job. I was always struck by what I considered the downside of globalization. Nothing was more depressing than seeing a Starbucks, KFC, Gap, or Walmart dotting the landscape. At every destination I tried my best to explore and see the local shops and culture. why travel that far to pick up a pair of blue jeans or sip a caramel macchiato. So much more can be gained by seeing how others live.

Getting back to the US and race relations, I’m happy to say that while we may not be post-racial, we are at a point where friends can sit around a dinner table and have an open and honest conversation without judgement. More and more folks are having these conversations and its through dialogue where progress and understanding is achieved.

I’ll leave with this one last thought. Let’s dispense with the description of America as a melting pot and start talking about America as a tapestry. Each strand adding its unique perspective that makes America what it is today.

Jeffrey Hastie