"American Exceptionalism" ?

Commonly in the United States we look for the "exceptional individual". Examples  of exceptional people might include: Martin Luther King, Jr.,  John Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln. Mahatma Ghandi, Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix,  Clara Barton, Helen Keller.

Often, the exceptional person is seen as the "exception to the rule".     Black People may be seen as generally not "very intelligent", but Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is somehow different from most Black People.   Katherine Johnson, the NASA computer wizard in "Hidden Figures", was was Black, Female and a computer wiz - an exception to the rules.

A lot of people are "exceptional" because we do not nurture their efforts and because they break the stereotypes we have of them.   It is interesting that George Floyd has been made such a hero.   It is possible that he was drunk when he was arrested.   A part of a biography of him states:

A blue-collar worker, Floyd was also an early contributor to the development of Houston's hip-hop scene and a mentor who was active in his religious community. Later, he faced several arrests for theft and drug possession; in 2009, he made a plea deal for an armed robbery, serving four years in prison.

In 2014, he moved to the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, finding work both as a truck driver and a bouncer.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wik i/George_Floyd)

Often many of us may believe that race is but one factor of several that are important; most commonly including gender and class.   While this is true, it is troubling that race seems to predominate in important ways.   One example of this is noted in research on maternal  and infant mortality rates by race and class.   One example describing such discrepancies is:  "Exploring African Americans' High Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates" -       https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2018/02/01/445576/exploring-african-americans-high-maternal-infant-death-rates/  - Basically this research indicates that Upper-Middle-Class and wealthy Black women are signficantly more likely to die in childbirth (and their children die in their first six of life) than poor white women and their babies.

I know that I've dehumanized others in the past and remain both racist and anti-racist being a white male.   Truly exceptional people look for the ties that connect them to others, totally the opposite of the "I'm oppressed because of x, so don't push your oppression on me" - type of mindset.

We have a lot of work to do!  As long as we see things as simple one-on-one "niceness" or "racist" (or "sexist") behavior, rather than being systemic and needing large scale systemic solutions to our problems, we will continue to have ongoing, significant problems with racism (and sexism).


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