Why I’m Optimistic About the Future of Race Relations

As a high school teacher, I often use articles about provocative current events to stimulate student discussion and writing.  Last year, in one such journaling assignment, we read this piece about how Asian students are discriminated against in college admissions.

The article described how students are asked to check a box for their race on application forms, which may then be used to give them extra “points” or–especially if you’re Asian–be held against you.

I couldn’t have predicted the most common response: students wanted to know what box they should check, because of their multi-racial background.  Several students in each class said that they didn’t identify themselves as any major race at all.

A few students involved in the discussion even said that they were the children of parents who themselves were both biracial.

It reminded me of how Tiger Woods famously made up his own melting-pot label for himself: Cablinasian.

And this is the wave of the future: the simple, major divisions we’ve used forever to define race–the boxes we give as options on forms–are on their way out.  Reality is blurring those old lines.  So many of us are so deeply invested in maintaining walls that are rigidly black and white (get it?), that as a society, we don’t realize they’re being pulled down all around us.

Maybe the racial tensions we’ve been wrestling with for so many generations never will be resolved.  Maybe they’ll just become obsolete, a quaint relic of days when people had more obvious differences.