The American Obsession with Race

Can someone please tell me why Americans are obsessed with race?

I happened to be searching for quite a few schools online today – double-checking a small subset of some contact data that we had received to gain some assurance that all of it was good – and all the school info aggregators had a high profile in the search results.

Apparently, when moving to Brent, Alabama, it’s very important to know, along with the average humidity and wind-speed, how many black, white, and Hispanic people live there:

Races in Brent:

  • Black (50.0%)
  • White Non-Hispanic (48.8%)
  • Hispanic (1.0%)

Apparently the same is true of Anchorage, Alaska.

Great Schools, the “parent’s guide to K-12 success,” goes so far as to post pretty graphs. Very helpful:


Private Schools Review goes a step farther. They helpfully sythesize and simplify the data, so that you don’t even have to add up all those troublesome colorful people. It’s now easy to determine that Saints Simon & Jude school in Arizona has 28% students of color:


The Local School Directory is not far behind. Now it’s easy to know who to avoid:


Is this just normal for Americans? Does no-one find this shocking?

How are these stats relevant? How do these companies assume they’ll be used? What is the purpose of a) gathering, and b) publishing this data?

I just don’t get it.

Maybe I’m just a naive Canadian, but I think that Americans invent 90% of their race problems by being so bloody focused on race.

Stop obsessing! Some people look different. It’s OK. Forget about it.

Move on to something interesting.


3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Greetings from San Diego. I work in a school district and can tell you that it’s all about money, money, money. In our collective guilt for Manifest Destiny and slavery, our politicians have created quotas and funds targeting different ethnicities to help level the playing field.

    This leads to interesting debates for sure, not the least of which is what you’ve so keenly pointed out: whether or not this continues our unhealthy focus on our differences…

    As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • The race situation in America does somewhat self-perpetuate. To be honest, a lot of whites/caucasians I know aren’t prejudiced in any way, but a lot of “minorities” are, particularly African Americans (AA).

    We’ve gotten to a point in our society where AA are pretty much oversensitive to discrimination so they see it where it really doesn’t exist. It’s stupid, because any admonishment or criticism (constructive or otherwise) directed toward a person of color for specific reasons other than race (poor work performance, bad behavior, etc) often gets turned into a race issue when it’s not.

    Then there’s the whole Affrimative Action thing. I’ve always been opposed to it. It’s basically quotas for things like jobs and adminssion to schools. I’m all for equal opportunity, but it’s a very different thing from Affirmative Action. I can’t understand why anyone that’s part of a minority group would rather obtain a position or a spot at a university based on the color of their skin rather than based on their merits. Again, it’s like reverse discrimination.

    I’m from the midwest, so I’m sure there are other parts of the country where racial discrimination is more pronounced. In my experience, however, I don’t see why it’s still an issue in America.