Throughout the discourse in the social meaning, experience and consequence of race, we come to understand that everyone sees race through a social lens or paradigm. Generally the lens that one chooses will serve as a function that works toward the social and economic advantage of that individual. However, what one must not forget is that all paradigms are flawed and every lens does not allow one to see the entire picture. It is only when we are able to wear multiple lenses and think dialectically that we truly capable of working against poverty and disadvantage.
I only ask for us to seek a more complex view and understanding of the world. People in both paradigms have a tendency to move towards reductionist thinking and condense the most nuanced of notions and understandings into polarized, simplistic, and shapeless projects. What becomes even worse is that this “either or” dynamic of the paradigms dismisses a plethora of policy issues that are not explored due to a dedication to individualism or structuralism.
We must take “an approach to problems that visualizes the world as an interconnected totality undergoing minor and major changes due to internal conflicts of opposing forces.”
For example, If we go back into the 1950s and start to foresee the social disengagement of black men in society, then the policy issues we want to highlight at that time might change. Instead of trying to protect the black race from a pure image, we might be able to look past surfaces critics, and actually identify problems that are hurting the black community (interpersonal and systemic) and find solutions.
I think it is important for the next generation of black and latino youth to be able decipher the social meanings, consequences, and experiences of race. With the pressures of a society claiming a post-racial and far too simplistic view of the world, I think it is important to be able to deconstruct racial meanings, so the next generation of cross cultural coalitions and radical politics will live on.
With full disclosure I admit that my lens is based on my experience as a Black man growing up in a highly racialized society. As a black young man at the precipice of his working career, it becomes crucial to understand the recurring models of racial discourse in their social and historical contexts. This can only happen if we can teach youth to analyze the two-dominating paradigms in a context they know well. Thus, it is importance to not only thinking with an ahistorical/interpersonal/individualist point of view, but also not limiting oneself to the pure structural/historical point of view. Although, my own thinking and experience leans towards structural oppression being the reason for the barriers black youth must overcome today, it is important not to discount the personal agency of black youth and the overall black community. Only with dialectic thinking are we able to fully understand the world, not by the reductionist boundaries of a lens, but with the welcoming of nuance, contradiction, and the potential for change.