Racial equality has been a long and bitterly fought battle, waged through history in its entirety. We live in a time when our society has moved beyond the mires of ethnic superiority in favor of battlefields like gay marriage, women's' rights and abortion. One might assume this shift of focus means the battle for ethnic equality is over — but is it? While racism is no longer an accepted facet of our culture — in fact, our obsession with political correctness is part of what defines our society — it does still exist.
Racial slurs are common amongst members of the same ethnicity. These words were once considered dirty, foul words by the wider population though it now seems that the only time these words are acceptably used is when thrown about by racial fellows — anyone who's ever listened to unedited "gangster rap" knows what I'm talking about. So what makes this selective use of racial slurs acceptable? Sharing an ethnic background shouldn't give anyone a pass to use these prejudice-charged words whenever they please. And while we're on the topic of what is and is not appropriate, since when is it not racist to have an entire television network called "Black Entertainment Television"? If someone were to start an Asian Entertainment Television, Irish Entertainment Television or White Entertainment Television network, the proprietors of such channels would be widely hailed as neo-segregationists with the last group having the added bonus of being suspected to be probable members of the Ku Klux Klan.
I'm not denying the injustices that led to civil rights movements in areas like Ireland, Africa, the United States and even Canada. Without these monumental events the world we live in now would not exist and we would be all the poorer for it. The lives sacrificed, ruined and rebuilt as a result of this worldwide shift are the foundations upon which the current generation was built and as such should be remembered for their forbearance.
Unfortunately, though, it seems that we have focused far more on the price paid than the product received.
My take on this topic probably seems one-sided and naive to those who have been directly affected by the people who made these movements necessary with their misguided sense of racial superiority. My ancestors were not driven to build railroads by cruel task masters, given the dangerous jobs no others would take or kept as slaves by plantation owners. My ancestors did, however, arrive in this country searching for something better, only to be looked down upon by those with established citizenship. My ancestors were driven from their home by intolerant people lacking the values our nation was founded upon. I don't deny my heritage and I certainly don't encourage you to either. I don't only focus on the injustices, either.
It is human nature to subjugate others. This happens everywhere — within races and certainly between races. Humanity is built on war and slavery, and until recently, these two practices were synonymous with progress. I don't think it's too far reaching to say that humanity is trying to move past this former mode of advancement. So why are we still focusing on things that divide us into a fragmented people?
Of course, there is merit in maintaining our diverse cultures. Be proud of who you are and what your ancestors endured in order to give you the life you have. History is full of prejudices and injustices that revolve around ethnicity, but remaining anchored to what happened in the past limits the avenues available for us to take in order to reach our future.
Monika Sahleen is a freshman, completing her first year at Weber State University. She plans to pursue a major and career in psychology.