What is ‘post-racial’?

What is ‘post-racial’?

The Spectator
Seattle University

Frances Dinger

Since Barack Obama became the first black president in 2008, the word “post-racial” has been liberally used by some media groups. We are, according to some, at a point in our country’s history when we can be past race but minorities are still incarcerated at a disproportionate rate to whites and are more often living below the poverty line, especially in urban areas (whites outnumber minorities in the case of poverty in rural areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). So, what does it mean to say we are a post-racial nation when the numbers suggest otherwise?

“We’re not post-racial,” said sociology professor Gary Perry. “We’re post-talking about race.”

With the rise of the multi-racial and multi-cultural movement, some ethnic groups are becoming less visible. And the issue is complicated further considering races are not measured uniformly across government agencies. A 20-year-old student named Michelle López-Mullins who is of Peruvian, Chinese, Irish, Shawnee and Cherokee descent is counted as “Hispanic” by the Board of Education but the National Center for Health statistics would count her both as “Asian” and “Hispanic,” according to a Feb. 9 New York Times article by Susan Saulny.

During the 2010 census, individuals had the option of checking a box marked “mixed race,” making counting all the more complicated.

While trivial to some, racial statistics help government agencies consider disparities in health, education, employment and housing, among other protections. So, where are we in the race discussion when even government agencies are sometimes unsure how to group individuals? Does a movement for “mixed race” mean we are moving toward greater equality or acceptance?

“Symbolically, there’s this idea that we’ve arrived at a place absent of race,” Perry said. “[…] It’s not that we’re post-racial, but the mixing we’re seeing indicates race doesn’t matter.”

Perry emphasized that what we see in the media from minority celebrities is not the reality faced by many Americans of color…

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