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Friday, April 9, 2010

Stop Counting

The idea for this post actually started months ago with the release of the movie Avatar and folks making a big stink about it being racist.

By now you all probably know all the arguments both for and against that topic so I will not go into it here. But it did spur a conversation between my wife and I where we both came to the conclusion that we all just need to stop counting. Only then will racism and prejudice end.

So what does this have to do with my blog? Well, life is funny sometimes. Ever since then there have been numerous incidences when I have yet again been reminded of "just stop counting".

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this week has seemed to culminate in a torrent of examples of not only "counting" but also wearing ethnic categories as badges. Not only that, but many of these "examples" have been sports and indirectly finance related.

So, here goes my post.

In perhaps the first example this week, Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post wrote an article titled "Washington Redskins' trade for Donovan McNabb is a perfect fit". It took him all of 3 sentences to bring up the race card. In fact, he does it more than once.

The quarterback fraternity is small, and the black quarterback fraternity is even smaller...

McNabb is not only accustomed to the insanity of being a quarterback in the NFL, and the extra weight of being a black quarterback in the NFL...

Why is this an issue? Is racism that prevalent in sports now-a-days?

Am I just a dumb out of touch white guy?

Yes, he is black, I get it. Duh, but why does he feel compelled to categorize the point he is trying to make in such a way? Does it legitimize his argument? Bring more weight to the point he is trying to make?

Imagine if someone had written "the fraternity of white quarterbacks" in the NFL. "the extra weight or burden of being white"?

I think, unfortunately, that the reaction(s) would have been quite different. In fact, that probably would not have been printed at all.

This reminds me of an article, (Second example this week) in the Huffingtonpost about the need to integrate the race beat in journalism.

Since that is not really sports or finance related, I will just include the link for your review. But the summary is that perhaps we need to use the same measuring stick for all "racial" topics.

My third example of the week, the US Census, is finance and money related.

The census asks a multitude of ethnic questions trying to classify various origins of Hispanics in our society while largely ignoring middle eastern origins and classifying them largely as "white" or "Caucasian".

Now, this is probably the only instance where I actually agree with the counting and categorization so that public governing entities, funds, and programs can adequately accommodate the ever increasing and changing diversity in our society. In fact, I could see the argument that the census does not go nearly far enough with their questions and categories. But that is getting a bit off track to my original discussion to treat fairly here.

But I will say that I heard one group, those of Mideastern decent, complaining that they were lumped into the white/Caucasian category. It's ironic that what many seem to not realize is that previous generations, back in the 50's and 60's, when the equal rights movement was picking up steam; Mideastern representatives lobbied congress to categorize them as white/Caucasian, because they did not want the label and stigma that went along with being a minority.

And of course, even the president is not immune to this topic. People were asking what he put down for race and residency.

The point I am trying to make in all of this is, as the title of my post indicates, "when can we stop counting?"

Counting and the natural subsequent desire to classify or categorize all this is in my mind serving as a constant reminder of racism in our society and does nothing except help keep us divided.

Now before you jump all over me about doing away with ethnic awareness and appreciation, I am not saying that at all. In fact we all, every one of us, should be made aware of all ethnic histories and diversities and realize that this diversity is not a weakness but rather a strength and should be viewed as such.

In fact , my fourth example of the week...

Core Values on WTOP News

Talks about his idea of doing away with Black History Month and Confederate History Month.

Again stop counting, do away with the "badge" mentality, and use the same yard stick for everybody and every topic.

But back to sports and racism.

In my fifth and final example, my cousin who writes, produces and directs for a living (his portfolio includes "The Daily Show", and various skits from Leno's short lived prime time show) sent me this short that he directed.

In this video, topics of race, sports and ethnic diversity are, in a way, treated equally.

Got No Game - Race in Sports

Like I said, this week I was seemingly inundated with examples....


Sam April 10, 2010 at 5:58 PM  

You know what's funny? I (a dorky white guy from the upper Midwest) have never thought of Donovan McNabb as a "black" quarterback. I've just thought of him as a quarterback. A damn good one at that. I guess I should thank Michael Wilbon for bringing to my attention that there is a difference between good white QBs and good black QBs -- I was almost colorblind there for a moment. Can't let that happen, can we? Good post.

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