Joseph’s Spark- April 15

While reading this weeks readings, my mind couldn’t help but contemplate what it is that brings people together and, conversely, what it is that drives them apart. A reoccurring theme can be found throughout the readings; that of race. In the Sanjek readings, we find people of varying ethnicities coming together to learn from each other and share culture, and even select their own ethnic identities. In Gregory, we have people of the same ethnicity coming together to help better their lives and solve problems collectively, while at the same time attempting to reach out to other peoples and not alienate them from the community. In Anbinder, we see people fighting and arguing over politics and race, but the same time, we see them come together over the same ideas.

So what’s the deal? Race and cultural identity seems to be both the glue that binds and the wedge that divides people. Much of this can be attributed to politics and the nature of political discourse. Take, for example, the riots in the Five Points described in the readings. While it seemed like the big riot was a clash between the Irish and those trying to limit their power, it was much more complicated than that. Those supporting the Republican police were not all supporters of them and many of them had Irish identities themselves. Despite their political differences which had caused riots in the past, Mathews and Kerrigan both fought for the police force when the “Dead Rabbits” crossed into their territory. To them, it was a turf war, other politics be damned.

Politics also helps explain the general benefit of coming together: There is power in numbers. In Gregory, this point was made extremely clear by the things the block organizations and other political activist groups could do versus the things individuals accomplished on their own. And despite differences in views and approaches, people came together under common goals and were able to achieve. Yes, this was mainly for those in the better area of East Elmhurst rather than those in Corona, but it was still an accomplishment. Who can join together was still based mainly on race, though some believed it was important to branch out to the wider community and not stay strictly in black Corona.

As I ponder these ideas, I can’t help but think that it is possible that while the concept of race may cause hatred and violence, it also causes people to come together with an identity and as a community. Personally, as a Jew, I find myself within a larger community of Jews regardless of where I am on the planet. We share a culture and a language, and many goals and purposes. It makes me feel connected to other people I never met, and likely never will. I assume other people feel similarly about whatever ethnic groups they find themselves to be a part of.

Which brings me to my main question: Would the world really be better off without the concept of ethnicity? I know we’ve thrown the idea of a race-less future around in class, but is it really an ideal? I’m not taking any side here, I’m just really curious about what people think. Obviously racism and intolerance is bad, but is the idea of race and cultural identity inherently wrong, or is it just it’s application which has failed? In other words, if we could get rid of all racism and bigotry, would we be better off with individuals identifying to a particular subgroup of people in addition to mankind, or is it ideal that we all have no group identity other than the human identity we all share? Share your thoughts.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Joseph’s Spark- April 15

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *