Similar Skin: An Essay on Equality
“We all begin with similar skin that will evaporate” is the hook to a song by Umphrey’s McGee that couldn’t be more relevant to what’s been going on in the news lately. Everyone is born with ten fingers and ten toes, two legs and two arms, but most importantly a brain that is blessed with the ability to learn an infinite amount of information. Then, as we start to grow up, the world begins to morph us. Our families, schools, communities, the government, and the media all get a chance to influence how we think and ultimately who we become. The result is almost always a roll of the dice.
But what happens when you encounter people different than yourself? Do you recognize them as a person similar to you with the capacity to love, hate, fear, and feel pain just like you can? Can you take that one deeper and understand that the experiences that have shaped them were probably much different than your own?
The beauty of music is that it weaves words with emotions in a captivating way that sucks you into someone else’s head and helps you see things through their eyes. It helps you understand culture, history, and experiences by breaking down the barriers that hinder your perception of other people. While music can be used to connect people, it can also be used to keep us segregated. Commercialism feeds on stereotypes that present us with false generalizations of other people. This is something that will not change unless we change.
Far too often we judge people based on assumptions. Our reactive society has facilitated a culture of hate and violence where sensationalism has trumped reality. Tragically, stereotyping and racism have killed the hope of progress time and time again. Everyone suffers as a result. Don’t get me wrong, this is a complex issue and we have come a long way since our parent’s generation. But if you look at the world we live in today, it is obvious these issues are still plaguing our communities.
Unfortunately, understanding other people seems to be a lost art these days. Finding common ground, or at least having empathy for those that are different from ourselves has fallen by the wayside. You may say to yourself, “That’s not me, I don’t judge other people.” But that isn’t enough. It isn’t just about your own personal view of equality. It is about the systemic inequality that has established itself within our society. It’s about a legacy that was handed down of judgment and hate. It’s about the media telling us that generalizing whole groups of people is acceptable.
You are not your mind. The way you think does not define who you are, unless you allow it to. Throw your generalizations out the window. It isn’t until you begin to acknowledge the unique points of view of every individual you come across that you can begin to understand where they are coming from. What is happening right now across the country goes much deeper than what took place in Ferguson, Missouri last August. People are finally recognizing the fact that the American Dream has been tampered with.
A cultural revolution is upon us. Progress will continue to happen regardless if you are on board. When more and more people start opening their hearts to the pain and suffering of others, an evolution of the mind begins to occur and a true notion of equality begins to sink in. Our generation has such an amazing opportunity to facilitate that change. We can support art that breaks down barriers and stand up for those who get victimized every day by society. The tradition of hate instilled in us still exists and it is our job to eradicate it.