Who Are You Really?

For this week’s blog post I want to focus on the readings by Charles Mills. He goes in depth talking about race and categorization of society bringing up the question “But who are you really?” quite often. In a perfect world race would be irrelevant. We would live in a society amongst other people without thinking of hierarchy and standards based on the way someone looked, their intelligence, gender or background. This idea is called Quance. Mills discusses this idea of Quance in great detail from pages 41-43 along with what our world is in contrast to this theory. Today, our world functions in a vertical class system as it has for all previous generations. We as humans, differentiate others based on factors that are out of their control and place them into privileged and subordinate categories. But what defines where they are placed? Our “codes” of separation have changed drastically in the past centuries that it seems stupid for us to still be putting people in separate boxes based on these factors. In 1790 the American Census was based on ‘free’ vs. ‘enslaved’ Americans. After abolition, the census was focused on skin color and today we see a focus on ethnicity, gender and income. While these categories can be useful in taking count of the citizens of our country, who decides what matters? Someone’s skin tone may not be a reflection of their heritage and vise versa. On page 55 and 56 of Mills article, he discusses Case 1 where a person has a white skin tone, is categorized to be a “natural white” but has black history running through his veins. Mills calls this “conscious episodic passing” (Page 56). While I believe everyone should have equal opportunities no matter their skin tone, ethnicity or social standing, this specific person is using their skin tone to hide their history and therefore gaining a different perspective from those around them. If we lived in a world of “Quance”, this would never be an issue people needed to overcome. There would be no judgement or rules to define political power, wealth, or cultural influence. This idea would classify as living in a horizontal system and would disconnect the world from discrimination. While I’m sure it is impossible for everyone to agree on this system of living (there will always be people looking to be superior to another), it opens up many questions to the readers. Is defining race critical to humanity? Why can’t we all agree on the fact that we are all just as human as the person next to us and deserve equal treatment in society? We are all different in so many other ways than just gender, race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity and we offer so much more than only these traits. These differences should not be defining factors in the system. Charles Mills states on page 46 that “a racial realist will also believe that the differences between races are not confined to the superficial morphological characteristics of skin color, hair type, and facial features, but extend to significant moral, intellectual, characterological, and spiritual characteristics.” Our world is full of excitement and uniqueness and if we take that away by putting labels on people, our society will become a boring place where no one wants to live. So who are you really? Is who someone else is naturally something you are willing to judge them for?