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Gary L. Flowers of Black Leadership Forum
Published: 03 December 2008

Thanksgiving has come and gone. And so have most of our waistlines. Yet, the memories of delectable dining linger. Curiously, while reading the Nov. 30, 2008 Outlook Section of the Washington Post, I found opposing opinions entitled. 'Mistaken Identities.' One of the opinions conjured a dish from Turkey Thursday in my hometown of Richmond, Va. -fruit salad. Yes fruit salad.
Nutritionists widely agree that a balanced diet consists of a variety of fruits. Accordingly, eating and enjoying an equipoised fruit salad rests on the tastes of distinct fruits. Cut apples, melons, oranges, pears, pineapples, grapefruits and whole grapes are singularly sensational.
Yet, united in a common bowl such tastes become something greater. While the sum of the fruit salad's parts are greater than the whole, the diner does not wish for any of the fruits to diminish their individual tastes in the name of homogeneity. In other words, the difference among the fruits is not viewed as a deficiency of the salad.
The same holds true for the historical evolution of this nation. In the 17th Century, Europeans landed on Native American soil and established separate English Colonies. Following the formation of the United States of America, the Union superseded the separateness of each state. Thus, the Latin phrase, I Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) was adopted by the American government and inscribed on our national currency.
Nonetheless, each state preserved many traditions, many of which have become distinguishing aspects of official tourism offices. For example, the traditional peace offering by Native American Tribes to the Governor of Virginia; the Gullah Festival in the low country of South Carolina; and Pulaski Day in Illinois; all celebrate how difference does not denote deficiency.
Writers of 'Mistaken Identities' took different sides of the issue of racial identity in the United States of America, following the nation's recent presidential elections in which a genetic son of Kenya and Kansas was elected leader of the free world. "I'm Not Post-Racial" was juxtaposed with "He's Not Black." The author of 'I'm Not Post-Racial' asserted that as Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, and Latinos become more integrated in politics and American culture that 'race and ethnicity should remain valued aspects of our [national] identities,' to which I agree.
The term 'post-racial' literally proclaims 'after race' or 'colorblind.'
We should no more be blind of our colors and sacrifice cultural differences among people than to advocate the repudiated legal doctrine of 'separate but equal' in the 1896 Supreme Court Case of Plessy v. Ferguson. In the American mosaic, this nation is made up of many faces, of many races, from distant places. Each tile in the national mosaic is of particular value while also being of collective value to a greater artistic idea. Conversely, the author of 'He's Not Black? argued that the 'one-drop of blood rule' used in the 1896 Plessy case is outdated, and because the President-Elect is half Black and half White he should not be considered one or the other. I argue such a view mixes apples and oranges by confusing the science of genetics with sociologically based cultural perceptions.
Yes, President-Elect Barack Obama is half White and half Black by genomes. Yet, if he were to hail a taxicab on the 'wrong side of town' in most American cities, dressed as he was recently photographed with a baseball cap and jogging suit, the cab would pass him by based on perceived criminality of color.
Not to acknowledge such does not negate its existence. If the United States of America is to be a balanced nation, we must all embrace variety as valuable. The world is watching. We need not paint the proverbial rooms in our national house the same color in order to suggest we live in a color-blind society.
Rather, we should apply the idea that whether Red, Yellow, Brown, Black, or White, we are all precious in God's sight. For some, America is the envy of the world, not because of military or the material wealth of its citizens, but rather the idea that many different people can coexist with cross-cultural respect, the fruit of which is in good taste.

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