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An effort to cure a common malady

Melvin B. Miller
An effort to cure a common malady
“We ought to study this stuff harder so it doesn’t take another 42 years to solve the problem.”

For years, every February is Black History Month in America. Indeed, not every state embraces with enthusiasm the annual dedication to the achievements of African Americans. Nonetheless, it is generally agreed that this celebration has become part of the nation’s culture. Every president since 1976 has designated February as Black History Month. With such a consistent commitment to improve interracial understanding, one wonders why racial conflict has not dissipated even more over the past 42 years.

A major block to greater congeniality is the general reluctance to accept the scientifically based conclusion that the concept of race has no foundation. Groups of people with similar backgrounds seem to have a psychological need to deem themselves superior to others. It is helpful when the “others” have physical characteristics that make them readily identifiable as “inferior.”

If all people wanted was the comfort of feeling better than the “others,” that would be bad enough, but there is often something more. There is also the need to abuse “others” for the benefit of those who are superior. That is what slavery is about. Those in a position of power can benefit from the labor of others.

The practice of slavery continues in many parts of the world even today. The convenience of having someone tend to your needs, with little cost to those in power, appeals to another human frailty — greed. However, scientific research is causing the racial criteria to be less reliable as indicators of those condemned to slavery or abusive status.

Because of the high incidence of miscegenation, it has not always been easy to rely on an individual’s assertion about his or her race. Now with DNA tests quite common, many Americans are learning that they have African or Native American ancestors. For some it is shocking to learn that all humans belong to one family.

It is hoped that with the new revelations, it does not take another 42 years for racial discrimination in America to be ancient history.

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