Recently, we read the novel The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty, which talks about the experience of an African American boy from his childhood to adulthood. The main character, Gunner Kaufman, and his family, are all African Americans, but they seem to try not to be “typical” African Americans. That is, sometimes they tend to align themselves more with white culture than their inherent African American culture. For example, in the text, Gunnar followed one of his friends’ example of dipping the toothbrush with toothpaste in water rather than dipping the toothbrush with water and then apply toothpaste, just because that’s what white people do. By doing that, he can be more associated with white culture.
My attention was caught by the fact that some things/actions are considered as “white” while others are not. I think it’s a shame that even nowadays something are still being judged based on race. There are reasons for why it’s still so—naturally people of different races generally have different habbits. And that’s understandable since they are originally from different places. However, African Americans were discriminated in history, so all things associated with them are considered “inferior”; therefore, those that are associated with white are considered “superior”.
We need to break the color barrier. One of the most exemplary example is in sports. I am most familiar with Formula 1 so I am going to use that as an example.
Formula 1 was originated in Europe in the 1950s. At that time, and a long period after that, the sport is characterized as white. From sponsors, team managers to drivers and technicians etc., all positions are held by white people since they were rich and knowledgeable while people of other races don’t have any access to either money or technologies. It represents the highest-level of single-seat motorsport racing and is an example of white culture. Whiteness remained in the sport for a long time until in 2007, a young black British named Lewis Hamilton entered as a driver for the prestigious McLaren team.
Being the first black driver in F1 history is surely a great thing, but Lewis’s appearance means more than that. With his exceptional driving skills, his perseverance and an everlasting desire for victory, Lewis successfully made his way from being just an ordinary race car driver to a legendary three-time Formula 1 world champion. He’s also considered one of the greatest in the sport’s history besides Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. With his excellent records, his influence in the sport’s grew day after day. More importantly, he proves to the world that not only white people can drive the extremely skill and body-demanding F1 cars, black people also can, and sometimes even can do a better job than them. Lewis once said that “The way I see it, my color is an advantage in that it’s something people talk about”. After that, more people of other races begin to enter the sport, most notably Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi and Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto. The entire Formula 1 is changing, and Lewis is happy that “It’s a pretty cool feeling to be the person to knock down a barrier”.
Read more at http://www.lewishamilton.com/post/first-black-driver/#c1zDLQxMl7cqbC4F.99
It’s more so in other sports—with Tiger Woods in golf and the Williams sisters in Tennis, sports that are traditionally considered white. And soccer and basketball as well, we now see people of all races competing with each other.
We all live in an equal world today, and things should not be simply defined by race, but rather, by people themselves who are doing it. It’s always a joy to see color barriers being broke down and everyone regardless of race can have the same opportunity.