I think a lot of people were well-intentioned a few decades ago when they were trying to combat racism and taught kids my age that ‘we are all the same.’ The people who grew up with this mantra understood the concept of the idea that the color of our skin should not matter in determining who we are as individuals. However, it also had an unintended side effect, where white people took this phrase to mean that we all have the same experience, and since they didn’t see in color, they didn’t need to acknowledge the differences that we had. I’m not blaming them, but it is important to note where this notion came from: the best of intentions. It is mostly benign because they honestly do not see the color of one’s skin, which was the ultimate goal of ‘we are all the same,’ but in doing so, they erased the differences of who we are. My friend’s husband is White and she is Asian. He says he does not see her as Asian, and as such, he does not understand when she claims that people at pre-dominantly white establishments treat her differently. Why would they treat her differently if she is the same as him? When you fail to see the differences in who others are, you negate their experience. Because you think that ‘we are all the same,’ meaning we all shared the same upbringing, parenting styles, culture, and so on, you can ignore someone’s experience based on the color of their skin. And yet, I continue to hear this phrase uttered because it has saturated our youth and now our adult lives to the point where some people don’t understand the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and instead implore that ‘All Lives Matter,’ which is very close to ‘we are all the same.’
We are the same in our genetics, but we are not treated the same based off of factors we cannot control. To acknowledge and celebrate our differences does not alienate us, but makes us more aware of OUR diversity. To continue to proclaim that ‘we are all the same’ propagates the idea that differences don’t matter. It is important not to assign blame and to know that it is not anyone’s fault for believing it, but we do need to educate ourselves on how that phrase has affected society as a whole. Oftentimes, White people bear the brunt of this guilt and push back because they are weary of being blamed for race relations. This in itself also needs to be addressed because if it is not, it results in stagnation. Change comes in not actions, but thoughts. Change how you view the situation and each other and a revolution can be born.