Race Not Single Defining Trait

Katherine Ly, Editor in Chief

When I moved to Moraga, I didn’t think much of the event. However, when I visited Moraga Commons for the first time, thoughts like “Will I seem strange here? Will I fit in? Will I be stared at?” ran through my head. Why was this time different from all my other moves? Probably  because I had moved from a primarily Asian-American community to a town with a majority Caucasian population. It wasn’t a feeling of “Oh no, white people!” as much as it was a small, and somewhat irrational but still unavoidable, fear of being judged wrongly because of my race.

Race has always been a touchy subject, and it’s even touchier now considering recent events across the country. Supporter or non-supporter, no one can deny that since the inauguration of Donald Trump, racial tensions have grown. “Vandalism, threats, [and] intimidation” incidents have increased since his election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. In response, demonstrations and protests have grown enough to make headlines as well; 30,000 people joined the March Against Racism in London to protest Trump and his policies.

We like to think that we’re beyond that kind of ignorant judgement here in mostly liberal California. Even so, this is where I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, they’re so black” when referring to someone athletic. This is where I’ve heard a  Hispanic friend be told jokingly that they’ll get deported. This is where I have heard that being white means you have a higher alcohol tolerance. This is also where I’ve been asked if it’s true that Asians care more about grades. 75% Caucasian, 25% everything else Lamorinda may be more open-minded and accepting than other places, and for that I’m grateful, but there’s still a bit of work to be done.

People don’t like to talk about race. It’s probably why my AP Psychology class was asked first if anyone was uncomfortable discussing the topic, since the teacher heard of some recent heated arguments from class debates. But race is a topic that has to be discussed eventually. Ignoring the symptoms until it grows into something bigger is always a bad idea.

So what is race? Merriam Webster Dictionary calls it “any one of the groups that human beings can be divided into based on shared distinctive physical traits.” Some say it’s a social construct. Some also call it something for which you fight, and of which you are proud. Race is an important characteristic of who you are.

My views is that race is an important characteristic of a person, and sometimes it’s more important to one person than another. However, race shouldn’t be the defining trait of anyone. I’d like to know someone as outgoing, the thoughtful, the “I would trust this person with my life” friend, etc. I wouldn’t like to know someone as the “black” friend. The “white” friend. The Asian, Native American, Latinx/Hispanic – the list continues.

College will be weird for seniors and high school will be weird for freshmen your sense of identity is tested. Just remember that who we are as people is not defined by one singular thing. Not by gender, sexuality, occupation, income, grades, or ethnicity.