2005-12-29 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

A new year’s resolution
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
A new year’s resolution

A woman in a small New England town left her car door open while she wheeled her cart back to the store after shopping. During the minute she was gone, thieves stole some of her groceries. The woman returned to find her bags overturned and two of them missing. Only one man witnessed the incident. She was in tears when the man offered to assist her. He called the police, and when a patrol car arrived, the policeman asked the man to help fill out a report.

“How many were involved?” the officer asked.

“Two,” the man replied.

“Were they African-American, white, Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, or Native-American?” the policeman continued.

“I am an African-American,” the man answered. And I am as pale an occidental as you’ll ever encounter. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. From my perspective, the term African-American would hardly describe the identity of the thieves whether they were black or white. And incidentally, my wife was born in Honolulu, in the sovereign state of Hawaii. That makes her a United States citizen by birth. She does not appreciate being referenced as a Pacific Islander. The terms are offensive,” the man said.

The policeman, becoming frustrated, then said, “I didn’t write the form. Please help me describe the thieves as best you can. What were they wearing? Did they have coats? If so, what color were they?”

“Yes, they had coats, the man said. One was brown with a red collar, and the other was black. They both had dark eyes and facial hair.”

The policeman could tell by the man’s attitude that he wasn’t going to get much more information. The man was obviously offended by his questions. He mumbled a perfunctory thankyou and went on his way. The thieves were never caught. Why? Because they were dogs. A category for species was not included in the police form.

The point is: if we want to erase the racial lines that divide our society, then we must stop identifying ourselves with labels that clearly point out our differences. Where these so-called politically correct terms originated, I have no idea, but I wish they would go away. Terms indicating ethnic division can hardly be expected to bring a society together.

We, as a country, are over two centuries old. We have a culture with an ideology that is like no other. We have a constitution that has lasted longer than any in recorded history. We are Americans. Why do we have such difficulty embracing that idea?

As the great actor Morgan Freeman said: “Stop calling me a black man and I’ll stop calling you a white man, and we’ll just be men.” If we truly want this country to be united, as our name implies, then let’s identify ourselves as Americans and be proud of it. I believe that would be a great New Year’s resolution for the entire nation. It’s a system all of us can understand.

That being said, I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and productive New Year.

Return to top