Focusing on race pulls Americans apart

NORMAN, Okla., (U-Wire) — Those of us who question cultural studies are called many names. Who would dare question the noble idea of educating people about their heritage?
It is not that those of us who question cultural studies don’t want to be educated about the many wonderful cultures our nation embraces, however, we must ask what is the end in mind.
Rather than causing unity despite our differences, sometimes cultural studies isolates people creating the bitterness of an us-against-them mentality.
There are many glorious years from our American past, yet there are injustices that should never be forgotten, and that will forever remain a scar across the face of our history. But do these injustices abolish our nationality, our identity as Americans?
We are one nation, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. African Americans, Native Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans and Irish Americans all have American in common. Would it not make sense to consolidate these perspectives into one American History.
A lie has been perpetrated upon us that would lead us to believe that we cannot stand as fellow Americans without discarding our race.
As for me, when the National Anthem is played at Owen Field I will stand, right hand over heart, and honor those men and women of all races that went before me. I will stand for the Tuskegee Airmen and for those black regiments that bled and died for our nation.
The Tuskegee Airmen flew 15,553 sorties, completed 1,578 missions, and had a flawless reputation for not losing bombers to enemy fighters as they provided fighter escort on bombing missions over targets in Europe. Sixty-six pilots were killed in aerial combat, while another 32 were either forced down or shot down and captured to become prisoners of war.
I will stand for those Native Americans in World War II who used their native tongues to encrypt secret messages, and for Ira Hayes, who was told by his chief, before departing to war, to be an “Honorable Warrior” and to bring honor upon his family. Ira later became a hero when he helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima with his fellow Marines.
I will stand for those brave Japanese-Americans in the 100th infantry battalion who died while taking Monte Cassino in 1944. When the 34th Division launched its final attack on Cassino, the 100th Battalion was under-strength. One platoon moved into line with 40 men … they came back with five. The 34th Division with the 100th almost took Cassino in one day, but before they could, they ran out of men and material.
Army records later noted that five fresh divisions were finally required to take Cassino along with aerial bombardments. Those Japanese Americans in the 100th almost took it alone.
I will stand for the Congressional Medal of Honor winner Dr. Mary Walker, who was an amazing female surgeon during the Civil War. A portion of her citation of our nation’s highest honor read, “she faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon,”
These men and women believed in America, and regardless of their race, culture or gender fought and died for those beliefs. Cultural studies can be valuable, but at times it rekindles hatred and discontent among different races and genders, rather than creating a common bond among brothers and sisters.
In the words of President Roosevelt, “Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race of ancestry.”

Kenneth Teel’s column originally appeared in Friday’s University of Oklahoma paper, the Oklahoma Daily