RCC Honors History Project

Race vs. Race

Posted by ga2008bby on November 29, 2008

While reading through the 1831: Year of Eclipse, I came across this statement that Tocqueville recorded in his notebook, “Americans increasingly viewed slavery as evil, but almost no one thought blacks and whites could live peaceably.” This quote caught my eye beacuse in today’s society we see interratial couples all around. It may not always be peaceful but imagine what it would be like if nobody ever mixed, race had to live among race. Can you imagine what society would be like? Do you think there would be wars? Over what?

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9 Responses to “Race vs. Race”

  1. nrohr said

    Oh I’m sure we’d think of something! Even in communities of “white” people, there are different groups and ethnicities in tension. Look at the discrimination the Irish have endured. When I was in England I met several people who were horribly prejudiced against Polish people. I don’t know how they could tell Polish people from any other, but they blamed quite a bit on them. Anyway, I too have been very intrigued by this strict conviction that whites and blacks could never coexist in one society. Having just elected a black president, this seems especially surprising. I sure hope all those doubters are watching us now! But it’s true that it was a lot of work, that it took a lot of time and a lot of blood. The slavery society was so divided and so entrenched that I think envisioning it in any other way seemed impossible. But that’s an encouraging fact in some ways. Two hundred years ago, or even one hundred years ago, or even fifty year ago, or honestly even forty years ago, it would have blown every one’s mind to imagine a black president. A black president whose top contender for the nomination was a woman, who chose a devout Jew to be his chief of staff, whose daughters, the first daughters, carry the blood of slaves and slave owners in their veins. The things we cannot even imagine today will someday be realities.

  2. andrewptscott said

    That is a very interesting quote. I believe that when Tocquiville said this it was at a time when there was turmoil present between blacks and whites because of slavery. This would be the one reason I could see the mixed races unable to “live peaceably.” Today it is hard to imagine what society would be like without a mixture and the acceptance of living among different races. I believe it is society’s fault that something such as race exists as it does today. I think race is a learned trait because we came into this world having the slightest idea what the difference between a white person a black person is. This is why I think that there would be a strange sense of turmoil if race just lived among race. However, in this new century any issue of race seems to be disappearing, which is a giant step towards becoming a more perfect nation.

  3. meluleki said

    Tocquville’s experiences in America made him believe that there was no way races could leave with each other in peace. At the time when he made that comment it was probably the best analyses judjing by the superiority and inferiority culture that existed in America. I am glad to have leaved to see America finally nominating a black man as the President of the United States of America for the first time in History.This experience has prooved Tocquville to be wrong about America. Ofcourse there are cases of racism that still pop up’ but it is not fare to denounce the efforts that the majority of America has made to uplift their fellow sons and daughters whose great grand parents were enslaved.Fortunately there are many people who unlike Tocquville realized that slavery was inhumane and worked very hard to abolish it.For that reason, today we enjoy the fruits of freedom and liberty and live together like one big family.

  4. michaelsutherlin said

    I learned a parable along time ago and it gives insight to your question. The story is about a couch and his team on their way to a game in the team bus. After a couple hours into the trip the team started to bicker amongst themselves over race supremacy. Eventually the coach pulled over the bus and asked one of the players “what color are you?” the startled boy responded “well I am white.” The couch quickly said to the boy “no you’re green.” The coach then directed the same question to another boy. The boy responded “I’m black.” the coach again responded “no you’re green.” This question was asked until the team finally got the message that they are all the same race to each other. So the team continued on their journey to the game when the team started to bicker again. The coach again stopped the bus and said to one of the players “what are you all fighting about?” The boy looked at the coach and said “well, the light greens are fighting with the dark greens and the dark greens are fighting with the plain greens.” Although this may seem amusing to some, this is actually a sobering thought. People always find something to fight about racially. Take for instance the Native Americans. They didn’t know that there were other races but they found things they hated about each other to fight about. If the races were the same, then wars would still persist but they would probably be more culturally oriented.

  5. andrewptscott said

    To Michael,
    I love that story! It is similar to the statement I made of racial differences being a learned trait. However, this makes even more sense. No matter what we do we somehow manage to separate and classify each other in groups or classes. Why does society do this? I say society because i don’t believe we individually know to classify people into groups. It is society as a whole that creates racism. The constant bickering in the difference in skin color leaves us no choice to but to identify each other as black, white, Asian, Mexican etc. And if this difference did not exist it would be something else that classified everyone in social groups. A story my mother told about when I was young pertains to this issue. I left grade school one day and mentioned a new friend to my mom and she asked which one. I pointed to a group of my peers and she couldn’t make out to whom i was pointing at. She asked if it was the black child and I was more confused then ever. I had no idea what being black meant. So I had to learn what the difference was and that day I found out what the subcategories of race was. Prior to that my little innocent self viewed everyone to simply be apart of one human race with no classifications. This is still how I feel about race today despite society’s constant classifications of human beings.

  6. nholsome said

    I definitely feel there would be wars just as there were wars in the past for slavery and interracial couples. Even though in today’s society we see interratial couples everywhere, society still does not fully accept them. If a black man and Asian women are walking down the street holding hands together, I gurantee people will stare or have something negative to say. As much as we would like to accept an interratial society, it will never be at peace. I, myself am for interratial couples and marriage, however, I find myself being “racist” at times. I remember I was working at Macys when a Black family wanted to buy some clothes. It was a young women, her signifact other, their child, and the young womens mother (an all black family) as they put their clothes on the counter I said “is this all for you” the young women responded “yes”. Then I noticed she had walked away and soon after an older white man appears at my couter. I said “I’ll be right with you Sir Im helping her right now.(pointing to the young black women)” He responded “Yeah, we are together.” Apparently the young womens mother was in a relationship with the white man and I automatically ruled him out of the family simply because he was white. It was of course an honest mistake, but nonetheless racist on my part.

  7. nrohr said

    I love stories like that, Andrew. When my brother was in kindergarten a similar thing happened—my aunt was trying to figure out which classmate he was talking about and asked if the girl was black. My brother responded “How’m I ‘sposed to know?” I loved that! His reaction as a five year old boy demonstrates race as a learned concept. Interracial families promote the idea that a person is a person is a person. I have good friends who are mixed race, and one of them said that she doesn’t like the term “half.” She isn’t a half person, not just half black or half white. She’s whole, and she likes to think she has two wholes, two whole families and cultures that have come together in her.

  8. dselinger said

    Yes this is a perfect allusion for how the majority of society is thinking about prejudices. Like nrohr explained previously, in Europe everybody hates each other because of previous conflicts/wars etc.. Although we are praising ourselves as a “European Union”, it will never be as united as the U.S. are. (and here we can again raise the question of how united it actually is). Furthermore, people are still judging others from their appearance, they are still superficial in so many aspects. We don’t have to go as far as the question of ethnicity, just try to think about our prejudice against clothing etc… I think the only problem with race is that we can’t hide it and it marks our interaction and perception in an instant of a second.

  9. kriemer said

    Malcolm X did not believe until the late years of his life that black and whites should not be segragated. I don’t think the idea of segragation is a very old one, but it is a very bad one. White people, for whatever reason I cannot comprehend, did not see blacks as equals. I think that the best way of getting over this is by unsegragating everything and mixing races so they could understand that we all have similarities and are all equal humans. A segregated society would have never worked, look at when America was segragated. Racial tensions were much higher and I believe desegragation has been a very progressive step to really achieving equality, although we do have a long way to go.

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