09/09/2014 04:24 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

A Reminder that America Is Not Colorblind, But It Can Be

One of the greatest battles America faces is our struggle to address social inequality and how to effectively combat this issue.

On the one hand, we attest to being a nation of acceptance and on the other we divide our views in terms of black and white. Those who believe we have entered a post-racial society ignore that we divide ourselves into categories and stereotypes that only further stunt our progress. We continue to champion groups over the larger whole and focus on individual efforts instead of the greater community. By focusing on what separates us, we breathe new life back into an issue we stumble to fix.

In a country that claims to celebrate cultural differences, we as a society, continue to be exclusive within our racial boundaries and appreciate others at a distance. Because so much effort has been placed on justice for individual groups, we build our borders to protect the fight that detaches us as a people. Instead of a fight for the universal good we fight for an individual good that further strengthens divide.

To preserve a culture does not mean to practice exclusivity and blame. When we practice our culture, appreciate those of others and condemn racial stereotypes, we open a new world of gray area. I believe the way to fight racial injustice is to practice a different form of progressivism and to promote the growth of a nation with less emphasis on the strength of individual ethnic groups. In light of the recent tragedies of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, we focus our attention toward the racial divisions instead of the larger issue of human atrocities toward each other. Instead of the focus being on horrific brutality against minors and these deaths as a blood stain on humanity, we instead choose to separate into our individual groups and fuel resentment. Justice should be given to the families who have suffered, but in order to combat the larger issue of human injustice we cannot afford to encourage race wars and separation.

If we choose to expand the gray area within America, we would diminish ethnic divisions by focusing on what connects us and opposing what divides us. Being of German, Korean, and African-American heritage, I was raised within this gray area. I was taught to proudly identify with each group I represent and to resist skewing my view into a black and white world. The adversity that presents itself to me daily is the efforts of others to strip away my culture and to place me into one group. I resent the idea that someone can choose a culture or a parent to identify with purely because of society's effort to categorize.

Again, instead of a push for exclusivity we should urge acceptance and growth as a whole. Encouraging the belief that mixed children should choose a side or parent to best identify with only enforces regression. The emerging generation of Americans who walk the tightrope between racial boundaries should be used as an example toward the gray area and goal of a post-racial society. The gray area offers its own form of animosity but by facing and rejecting the idea of separating your identity to conform will strengthen the normalcy of blended families, people, and groups over time.

Today, we should take time to reflect on our society that approached the death of young people as a conflict between races instead of exercising human empathy over the loss of a minor. The idea that we disassociate human emotions when atrocities like these present themselves to only view the surface of black and white is appalling in itself. We reinforce our mistakes to justify tensions, discrimination, and lack of representation. We grasp tightly onto our dirty, old habits of prejudice by focusing on the surface issues of race, when instead I believe the world is much more dynamic and simplified if we infuse a larger dose of humanity back into it.