10 NOVEMBER 2019
The inner contradiction of the fight for racial
and gender equality
Writer: Jason Tsaldaris
We have witnessed over the last few years a rising trend in north American and European countries to voice concern for race and gender-based inequalities. However, as much good faith as this cause is charged with, it bears within itself a crucial contradiction, and participates to the problem it supposedly fights, especially in the way it is fought. the Time editorial dedicated to Stacey Abrams in the August 6th edition is a vivid example of this trend.
The article makes some compelling arguments as to why the young woman deserves the Georgia’s governor position, such as the offices previously held, or the aspects of her character that make her a valid candidate to fill these boots. However, the choice is made to make her race and her gender the focal point of the argument: an African American woman. And though I understand the idea of promoting these characteristics as historical moves forward (Abrams, should she be elected, would be the first African American woman to hold this office), given the not-so-long-time-ago segregationist regime that divided the country, it undermines the very point against racism or sexism the movement is trying to make. That is, to make gender and race irrelevant to one’s election. The aim of the historic and proud American movement against racism was to move past such attributes in the consideration of one’s worth, capability, or ideas. As expressed by its prominent spokesperson, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.
In that sense, the idea was to make colour and gender sit on the side-lines of public debates, not to make them change teams, much less to make them the referee. Predictably enough, doing so would act as opening Pandora’s box, because it would place race and gender right back at the epicentre of public debate, where, sadly, what can be used as an argument in favour, can be used as an argument against.
As per Morgan Freeman’s request to his interviewer: “I’m going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace and you know me as Morgan Freeman”.
To come back to our example, I want to elect Abrams because she seems qualified for the position. The day I do so because she is black or a woman, what would keep me from doing the opposite for the same reasons in the next elections? Simply said, people fighting for racial equality should fight for society’s indifference to colour or gender, instead of favouring a different one than 50 years ago.
This question is of fundamental importance, as the same trend can be seen at a higher level from different political powerhouses in the west. Both Justin Trudeau and Emanuel Macron have committed to a 50-50 gender balanced government, while in the US, several democratic leaders forward the idea of a “reparation tax” that would benefit people of colour as a way to show regret and repair past injustices. And ironically – point and case - they couldn’t do their cause a bigger disservice to, as it is this exact kind of behaviour that propel personas like Trump to the top. Because the majority of people, while clearly against any kind of racism, do not want key positions in their government to be held for any other reason than qualification. And as long as you teach them that they don’t understand anything about racism, they are going to teach you that you don’t understand anything about politics.
At the end of the day, we should say things like they are. If numbers show that there is inequality at the expanse of a certain race of gender, then so it is. And public debate about it should be promoted, and all necessary measures should be implemented. But as long as we promote one specific race or one specific gender, no matter which one it is, and no matter the intention, we will be no wiser than Sisyphus. And in a way, Thomas Sowell’s words are true when he says: “Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as ‘racists’”. We would all benefit from putting this issue to bed once and for good.