An essay I wrote for a Composition class, professor loved it so i posted it XD
We Are One?
With each tiresome and exasperated breath, I find myself becoming more irritated with the human race. Ignorance, Vanity, Stupidity, Narcissism, Complacency, and Racism linger through this accursed world, creating more horrid people each day. I sometimes wonder if we truly are responsible for everything wrong with this earth, and if we’re really nothing more than talentless beings who claim we’re improving on the world when instead we’re repeating the same things, never learning from our mistakes.
We glance at one another with judgmental eyes and I honestly think we’re all buggier than a big bug, bugging out in a dune buggy. But, what kind of experience could I have, right? I’m nothing more than some ignorant and disrespectful adolescent, gazing at each individual I meet with an indifferent gaze as the world continues to plummet towards its inevitable doom. And yet with all of the problems in the world, I find my head pulsating with irritation, teeth clenched as my hopes for humanity are all cut in twain, thinking about what race really means to this world. Personally, I find myself irritated that a man with black skin nowadays can be titled white and vice versa, and I find a noxious poison coursing through my veins each time I simply think about what being labeled as one a race insinuates. In the world, especially America, your skin color automatically brands you with a mass of different terms and stereotypes as the ignorant simply run from the fact that reality dictates that we’re all the same. This is where a beautiful story and a thoughtful essay are introduced.
‘The Greatest Journey’, by James Shreeve takes us through a powerful story that explains part of the mysticism of human origin. The trilogy begins at our point of origin, the large continent of Africa; and travels in multiple directions, finally developing in the lands now known as Europe, Asia, and even North America. On the flip side of this we gaze at modern civilization through the eyes of David Brooks, in his interesting essay titled “People Like Us.” While one allows us to look at the genetic evolution of man, the other allows us to take a small glance as our evolution socially. We’ve all evolved from the same species of animal, yet could there be some key difference between groups other than skin color? Humans have mutated and continue to change to this day. While we all come in different shapes and sizes we’re still the human race. So why do we bother to continuously split each other up as if we’re miles apart genetically?
“The Greatest Journey” holds a great truth that many seem to ignore to this day. Even though we may have different skin colors, we’re all the same. While we may have a different appearance, is there really any right to call a man with peach skin “white”, while a male with dark skin is “black”? By that logic, could we create our own races based on weight and height? As stated above, I believe that race is pointless. While build, height, and many other features vary upon the person, it doesn’t mean that you’re a different species of human.
In his essay, Shreeve states “The human genetic code, or genome, is 99.9 percent identical throughout the world.” (Pg. 570) We’re all the same, and despite skin color, can be closer than any two individuals of the same race.
As a personal experience, one of my closest friends is a Half Black/Half White young adult with physical features that cause him to look like an Indian, yet has a younger brother who has extremely white skin and a very large brown Afro. They were birthed from the same parents yet have two completely different appearances. And yet, in a Pre-Civil Rights society, one would be White while the other is considered Black.
It’s this type of idiocy, separating individuals by nothing more than their skin color that aggravates me. It makes us sound like we’re worlds apart when truth be told, none of us are that different. How would you feel if I told you that it’s more than possible for three complete strangers, two Black males, and a White female to have their DNA tested, only for the results to show that one of the Blacks has more DNA in common with the White Female? This is the first point of ‘The Greatest Journey.’ No matter what your skin color is, we’ve all descended from the same ancestors. If you go two hundred years back, it’s more than possible to have over one hundred different ancestors. Relating back to our genetic code, the small percentage left out of that 99.9% determines small traits, such as eye color and disease risk. If the difference between us is that small, how on earth can we even think of separating each other as if we were different species?
Moving on, we look at another example. The very same article brings up the mystery of where we came from. We all had to originate from some specific point, right? The answer to that question is Africa. Shreeve states, “It begins in Africa with a group of hunter-gathers, perhaps just a few hundred strong. It ends some 200,000 years later with their six and a half billion descendants spread across the earth....”
If this is true, if we’ve all descended from the same few hundred humans, where is the difference between us? Of course the statement warrants the question, “If we’re all the same, why do we look different?” Well, every once in a blue moon, there will be a slight mutation. Though this mutation is harmless, it will permanently alter the future generations. Mutations have occurred in many species, animals and genus, yet without drastic change, it’s impossible to label these things as a new species. As stated before, without any serious differences, how can we label one another as if we’re some estranged being? In my opinion, race no longer defines a group of people by skin color but by culture.
An example that can be used to explain what is meant would be my situation. As a young African American male who attended a predominantly white school, I’ve been called numerous races. As far as I know, my family is of African and Native American descent; however, I’ve been called so much more. My vocabulary and newly found mannerisms have caused many people, white and black alike, to identify me as a white boy. I suppose this is because I use more than a quarter of my brain power, and often use vivid descriptions and ‘big’ words when I speak, I’m not simply educated but ‘white’. Truthfully, I’d like to think that just makes me above average intelligence. But such an assumption would be complete outlandish, right!? Along with that, I’ve been called a few forms of Asian because of my tastes. I love Japanese culture, music, and animations, and because of this, I’ve been ridiculed, many people calling me Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and just plain Asian.
Of course, this is nothing more than simple teasing most likely, but my point is, race isn’t used to define skin color but your actions. Another example would be my best friend, who is white. With an originally Jewish father and a Catholic mother, somehow he’s been called a Half-Jew. Along with that, he himself has been identified as a black boy, because of his tastes in music. I’m sure there are many cases like these that could be brought up but it all relates to the idea of a ‘comfort zone’ described in the essay ‘People Like Us’, written by David Brooks.
In the essay, Brooks speaks about the fact that no one really cares about diversity. Even though we pretend that we do, when it comes down to it, we want to be around those that share our opinions. This is what I mean by race now being associated with culture. I mean truly, you can look at political parties as their own races nowadays.
No matter how you look at it, his statement clearly supports Brooks’ point. People want to be around those like themselves, those who aren’t even if they share the same skin color don’t really matter. Throughout America it’s no longer uncommon to see a young white boy walking around with his pants below his waist, walking around with a group of blacks, unironically using the word ‘*****’. It’s a disgusting truth but it’s something we’re forced to look at every day. Technically speaking, such a sight would be more than commendable for taking a step towards equality, but I think we can all agree that this is in no way a step forward, in fact it could be a step backwards, but it’s true. Diversity has its own meaning in popular culture; any signs of inequality have disappeared, even if we’re becoming less sensitive because of it. And even with these steps in the wrong direction, it seems integration is far from accomplished, despite the increase of wealthy colored families.
Brooks says, “The number of middle-class and upper-middle-class African-American families is rising, but for whatever reasons...these families tend to congregate in predominantly black neighborhoods. (pg. 332).” Now, many reasons can be given to explain this odd phenomenon, but there’s one that makes a lot of sense. As stated before, people group together depending on their interests and don’t enjoy leaving the comfort zones. Even if you’re wealthy, you know where you’re safe, so why jeopardize your safety for a new environment? To put it simply, neighborhoods can easily be segregated, to the point that they can be known as ‘the place where the blacks live.’
People thrive in groups and have a need to stick with what they know. New experiences, while sometimes profitable, aren’t desirable. Even if you have a splendid opportunity to move, it’s putting yourself out into a place you don’t know much about. And even in a state like this, race is still neglected at times. As stated, aside from looking for their own race, individuals tend to flock around those with the same interests as them. As with the young white kid fitting in with the group of black ruffians, situations like this arise all over America and this odd form of integration is taken advantage of for profit.
Brooks explains this ‘comfort’ zone rather well, while going through multiple examples of how our environment affects us. He says, “In Georgia, a barista from Athens would probably not fit in serving coffee in Americus.”(pg. 331) This is the shortest example provided, but it shows this need to group with those like you. Skin color has no significance; you’re not comfortable where you’re not comfortable. In the end, it’s much easier to say that race has become something that’s transcends skin color and is just based on culture at this point.
Even though it must be rather obnoxious to draw such an ironic conclusion, dangling above your head like a cat’s toy, you’ve got no choice but to accept it. Race is a term that no longer applies to skin color, no matter how you look at it.
Bringing both essays together, it becomes clear that while genetically speaking, we’re all the same, we all come from extremely different worlds that rise above mere skin pigmentation. Even with color barriers shattered and individuals moving towards a new cultural understanding, we segregate ourselves. While this separation may be unintentional, the human race has shockingly evolved beyond our past, where one’s skin color defined him or her as something. We’ve separated ourselves into different cultures, apparently taking it upon us to bring in and remove any members we don’t like.
Diversity is used as a numbers game, we bring multiple backgrounds together in order to be called ‘diverse’ As Brooks says, “We don’t really care about diversity all that much in American even though we talk about it a great deal.”(pg. 331) This separation could be keeping us from an inevitable self-destruction. With this in mind, perhaps we should let’s play nice with one another and keep our distance. But, if you don’t want the advice then embrace diversity; let’s bring everyone together. However, I can’t blame someone if they end up attempting to hire their new Triad family down the street to fire the White Supremacists next door into the sun.
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