Don Wilson: Why I Race
When I was asked the question why I race it made me think about the definition of the word “race”.
The word clearly has more than one meaning and more than one use in our everyday lives and I wanted to see what the actual definition of each word is. Race - to move or progress swiftly or at full speed, was my favorite definition of “race”. I like the words "progress" and "swiftly" and the phrase “or at full speed”. While we have made some progress towards racial equality, we have not always done so swiftly or at full speed. You see here in West Virginia and moreover the United States the issue of “race” remains a divisive and controversial topic for many of us, it’s often talked about in private or just ignored. You hear phrases like “I don’t see color” or “I have _______ friends” but what we don’t do is get our hands dirty and try to fix the issues that exist when it comes to issues with racial differences. This is why I race because the movement toward racial justice, racial equality and a more inclusive world should not be a walk but a run and we need to pick up our pace so that the next generation of children does not face the same issues that my generation faced. The racial issues today are not that of Jim Crow or of bus boycotts, they have become barriers to job advancement, code words and the biases are implicit.
I have always had an issue with making determinations about someone’s ability based on the color of their skin, whether it be positive or negative. The assumption that all are bad or all are good based on someone’s race is not a good way to approach any situation. Race and ability are not related in my opinion and we need to start figuring out what makes us alike instead of different. This is another reason why I race. As I have grown up my group of friends has grown more diverse in just about every way possible, race, gender, economic background and birthplace are the most common differences that I’ve notice. What I have learned is that we all want the same out of life for our families and our friends and none of it has anything to with our skin color. My advice to anyone reading this would be to look around at your group of friends and if they all look like you and have the same background as you, you have work to do.