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Could we’unlearn race?”’ Why de-emphasising racial individuality could help mend political divisions

This was a narrative that took hold last week, and was then pushed back from two prominent columnists at The New York Times and The Washington Post. The underlying subtext of either side of the debate is individuality — black, homosexual and each intersectional identity between.

As the name suggests, Williams includes a very simple but rich proposal: de-emphasize race, and we are going to make progress as a culture. “If we’re ever to advance, we have to first slough off those previous skins we have been made to neglect,” he writes.

Williams, who talks of his own racial identity during the book (a black father and a white mother) states a de-emphasis on race will result in de-escalation of their increasingly overheated cultural and political environment in the USA. “Everyone should step back and deescalate our investment in these types of abstractions and look for the transcendent humanism that joins us and the international values and the national values,” he informed me at a recent interview.

So a lot of what’s catapulted race and racial identity to the mainstream within the past ten years was molded by our political climate, especially the combination of this first black president and there, controversial president that came later.

“I but thought that Barack Obama was the response not just to our state’s gloomy politics but into the question of the racial disposition,” he informed me. But though Obama’s presidency didn’t cure our splits, he remains optimistic: “I have lots of that positive feeling about the entire matter, and I truly do believe in the power of symbols… I feel the more significant and meaningful election for U.S. history would be that the Obama election, maybe not the Trump election”

Part of this struggle with identity politics is that the complicated and false groupings it could create. A 2018 survey found 44 percent of black voters see themselves as moderates, while 27 percent state conservative and only 26 percent state liberal. However, while black voters do not always see themselves as innovative, there’s been a Trump-era hurry toward”awakened essentialism,” since Williams describes.

He writes from the book:”In recent years because the results of the 2016 election, I have been dismayed to observe an undercover demagogue provoke racial bitterness throughout the nation and in families too, but I have been troubled to see well-meaning white buddies in my Twitter deadline and Facebook news feed flagellate themselves, sincerely or performatively apologizing to their’whiteness,’ like they were permanently born to sin.”

On a must-listen “The Fifth Column” incident out of this past year,” Williams expands on this thought, stating the emphasis race with people on the progressive left” overlaps with items which white nationalists and white supremacists told me that they desire. The concept that there is something particular about whiteness.”

Since the cultural dialog has changed from the decade because Obama’s election, so also has Williams’ private perspectives. He composed in 2012 for the Times”I’ll teach my kids that they, also, are black — no matter what anybody else can say — provided that they remember and want to become.”

I asked Williams what he believed would occur if society did find a way to minimize race as a cultural signature stage on a big scale.
But when he had children of his own, Williams felt just like the cultural conversation about race has been getting more essentialist. “That contradicted very much the matters I was experiencing in my personal life,” he informed me.

If Williams’ novel is courting controversy by questioning what’s deemed acceptable in 2019, this column is undoubtedly doing the same. And it’s also not lost on me, as a white guy, even raising the issues as deserving of mining can be deemed controversial.

Williams and I climbed up only miles apart, from suburban New Jersey, in cities that he explains as”informally segregated.” It had been informal but clear segregation that led me to research out my comfort zone in school, researching African American Studies as a minor. The best I could hope to do is challenge my very own notions, listen to humility and continue learning.

I asked Williams what he believed would occur if society did find a way to minimize race as a cultural signature stage on a big scale. “If white folks on a bigger scale de-emphasized their whiteness, I believe that would need to change the Republican party into a responsible party that could not get by on just playing white bitterness, particularly white middle and working-class bitterness whilst caring for the interests of plutocrats,” he explained. “We’d have a far more respected and honest political strategy in the event the Republican party could no longer squeeze as much victory from white bitterness and white identity politics”

This emphasis on identity politics occurs on the left also — and it is growing. “It is a poor strategy to have an identity-based plan on the left,” Williams states. “De-emphasizing identity all-around would help our politics since we’d need to pay extra attention to these difficulties. We might need to pay extra attention to course if we did not possess these self-defeating identity plans “

It’s admittedly unrealistic to believe America’s racial dialog will be dominant from the short term, whether Trump is re-elected. But when the dust clears from the Democratic primary, the 2020 overall election will kick. De-emphasizing race as a negative and positive — isn’t an easy request, but might be a means to de-escalate the branch in this country and permit an honest cultural conversation to ensue.