Diggs: Idea of race outdated, incorrect

Diggs: Idea of race outdated, incorrect
Barack Obama is not black.

For that matter, nobody is black and nobody is white, as the idea of race is outdated and incorrect.

That's what a South Dakota Humanities Council scholar said during a presentation at The University of South Dakota April 8.

Lawrence Diggs, a resident of Roslyn, spoke at the university as part of Diversity Week.

"There is a consensus among scientists that there is no such thing as race," he said. "Biologists say simply that human beings have not been around long enough to create sub-species. It's just impossible. We just haven't been here long enough."

Diggs said there are two main views that scientific research suggests.

"There's been a lot more intermixing than people give themselves credit for," he said. "Or, we all came from the same people and that genetics is all in a fog. The evidence always comes back that there are no groups out

there that we can define as races.

"There is one humanity," he said. "We're not talking about being … politically correct, we're talking about scientific data."

Part of the reason people still hold on to the idea of race is because it makes it easier for them define each other, Diggs said.

"We make the false assumption that if a person looks like you, he must be like you, and often we find that that is not really the case," he said. "In our culture, we're trying to be sensitive, but we don't know how to deal with people one-on-one."

Diggs said this stems from people wanting to feel like they belong to a group. He said that to make such generalizations causes people to lose their identity for the sake of a "we-dentity."

"They never take a survey, but it feels better if I say we, because then it gives me some validity," he said. "And if I feel like I'm in a group and we all do that – even if it's completely crazy – we all do it, so it's OK."

This also extends to the ideas of pride of racial heritage and "black" and "white" culture, Diggs said, adding that they must "absolutely" be done away with.

"It's just hanging on to something vague to give myself a sense of identity," he said.

Terms like African-American and Asian-American could still be used, but only when referring to immigrants who have not yet become naturalized citizens.

"As far as America is concerned, we should skip the hyphenations," Diggs said. "You're either an American, or you ain't."

He said the issue of race as an invalid concept should be discussed.

"We cannot hope to improve ourselves, let alone the situation in our society, without being willing and actually engaging with this issue," he said.

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