Transcending ‘race consciousness’: The ‘other’ side explains the need for the new multiracial category

IN MY experience, people who consider themselves of “mixed race” inevitably question not only the wisdom of racial identification but also the very scientific and biological foundation of “race” itself.

To lend public expression to these private individual challenges to the “racial” paradigm was one reason I launched the Interracial Voice Web site in 1995.

Furthermore, I believe that individuals of mixed racial backgrounds quickly begin searching for a higher spiritual truth, something that allows them to make sense of the madness behind lumping human beings into separate and distinct “racial” groupings.

Eastern spiritual philosophies say that confusion over how an individual should identify stems from a misidentification with the temporary physical body instead of with that which is everlasting — the spirit soul.

Accordingly, the ability or desire to see “beyond the body,” to see oneself as more than a mere aggregate of material elements, is a blessing indeed.

It is difficult to perceive more than that which is clearly visible, for to do so, one must transcend the “racial” norm and elevate oneself to a higher level of consciousness.

A belief not only in the existence of separate “races” but also in the grouping Homo sapiens into arbitrary “racial” and “ethnic” categories is the cause of racism and discrimination.

We cannot take seriously anyone who rails against racism, yet is perfectly willing to see that the belief system, the “race”-consciousness — which spawns racism, “race”-hatred and “race”-based violence — remain intact.

You root out still-lingering racism by deconstructing “race” — not by furthering the canard that keeping “race”-based statistics does anything other than perpetuate the same “race”-consciousness that we seek to jettison.

Leaders of various racial and ethnic advocacy groups know well that pitting group against group causes friction that often leads to violence. Will they recognize the transcendence of artificial group consciousness as a solution? No.

Their solution is to call for hate-crimes legislation to deal with the violence they are certain will ensue, while maintaining power over the individuals within these artificially created groupings.

Since poverty knows no color or sex, let us shift funding streams away from those that are based on “race” and gender. Instead, we should help those Americans that need help the most — regardless of their gender, color or assumed “racial” heritage.

Regarding affirmative action, let us adopt the sensible third-way synthesis (between extreme left-wing and right-wing positions) that guarantees state university admission to a fixed percentage of a state’s high school seniors — regardless of color. Again, the emphasis is on moving away from “race”- consciousness while, in this case, recognizing that some of this country’s K- 12 institutions are having trouble producing college-ready students.

As to bias in hiring and housing, let us expand the practice of sending men and women “testers” of all colors into the offices of Realtors as well as mortgage lenders to determine if customers of equal means receive equal service and treatment.

Let us imaginatively extend that program into the workplace to determine if job seekers of equal qualifications receive equal consideration for employment.

More importantly, let us realize the importance of transcending “race”- consciousness, for only by so doing will we transcend the bodily concept of life.

We do a disservice not only to ourselves but also to the world when we think in terms of race and ethnicity. Violence begins at home, and if we identify with our bodies, we commit the greatest violence to ourselves and to others as well: We see ourselves as something other than what we are, and neglect our genetic bonding with all that lives — this is the beginning of all violence and even of war.

Unless we recognize our spiritual birthright, our relation to every living being in existence, we cannot recognize our common father. If we do not recognize him, we recognize nothing.

Charles Michael Byrd is editor and publisher of Interracial Voice at