The Indian who visited Kristy at his work was tall and thin and handsome. He had very white teeth and a kind smile. He was middle-aged, clean-shaven. His polished shoes gleamed like obsidian. He wore a black suit-jacket and a navy-blue necktie, his thick hair cut high-and-tight.
“You’re Native,” the man said.
“Yes,” Kristy said.
“Diné,” the man said.
“Yes,” Kristy said.
“What does that word mean? I’ve never known.”
“It means ‘The People.’ Some say it means ‘Children of the Chosen People.’”
“Very interesting. Thank you.”
Kristy didn’t reply.
“You’re a minority,” the man said.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re part of a subordinate group whose members have significantly less control and power over their lives than members of a majority group.”
“I’m a human being.”
“You’re part of a group that experiences a narrowing of opportunities — by which I mean, success, education, wealth, and so forth — which is disproportionately low compared to your group’s numbers in the society.”
“I’m an individual. That is the smallest minority there is.”
“Young man, you should have an awareness of subordination and a stronger sense of group solidarity, if you’ll permit me to say. You are a victim of privilege.”
“I don’t feel like a victim. I feel like an individual human being.”
“And yet you might be entitled to certain — you know — reparations which are owed to you.”
“I don’t want them,” Kristy said.
“Because you cannot correct injustice with more injustice. The only way to correct injustice is to allow equality before the law. You cannot correct racism with more racism.”
“What I’m describing is hardly racism. I frankly find it a little offensive that you imply this.”
“I imply no such thing,” Kristy said.
“I’m sorry. That’s how it sounded.”
“Like an implication?”
“Then I haven’t made myself clear: I’m stating very explicitly that what you’re espousing is racism.”
The tall slender man raised his eyebrows and unconsciously stepped back one pace.
“Racism,” Kristy said, “in addition to being another deterministic philosophy, is also another form of collective-tribalism — of the most barbaric kind. It is a primitive ideology that tries to grant moral-sociological significance to one’s DNA code. It holds that human character is at least to some extent the result of one’s genetic chemistry. It ascribes moral worth to racial pedigree and the genes we’ve inherited. But that’s the opposite of what’s actually true: our rational faculty determines our character. Race is unchosen. Moral worth and character apply only to the realm of choice. Humans are the rational animal. And rationality is a choice. Thinking is a choice. We are born with the rational faculty, yes, which is biological and genetic, but the convictions and thoughts and ideas which shape our minds which in turn shape our actions which in turn shape our character — this is not inherited. This is chosen. Racism is a desire to achieve virtue merely by virtue of one’s genetic inheritance. It’s not so easy or simplistic: Virtue — by definition — must be chosen, or it falls outside the realm of morality. Now please leave me alone.”
This is Chapter 7.