Can We All Just Get Along…Still?

Bruno Caboclo

(Credit: Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

Today, and each June 24th, is the Day of the Caboclo. It’s not the title of a new horror flick. Nor is it the birthday of Bruno Caboclo, the 19-year-old forward of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. It’s actually a celebration of mixed-race people in Brazil.

You’d be sued for that in this country.

Imagine the Day of the Mulatto or Caucasian Heritage Night at the ballpark. Wait, they tried the latter last week at a minor league stadium in Utah, but ended up canceling it.

I’m not suggesting the promotional idea by the Orem Owlz was a good one. But, it sure makes you wonder: When IS it acceptable to have a promotion in honor of a race of people? Where is the line?

Caucasians make up 63% of the population in the United States. When would it be okay to celebrate that faction of folks? When the percentage reaches minority status at 49%? Or 32%? Or 17%?

The point is that race is still such a sensitive topic in this country, while in other countries…not so much.

Maybe getting to know each other a little better, and experiencing what they experience, would help solve some of our issues.

I once had girlfriend who was African-American. Walking through a mall, we often received mean stares from whites and derisive comments from blacks. On the flip side, in the name of tolerance, I was completely accepted by an amateur soccer team on which I was the only white player.

If it’s okay in the sports world or in the realm of comedy, then it should be okay everywhere.

The story of the advent of the caboclo race in Brazil is interesting.

Caboclos are bronze-skinned folks hailing from the Amazonas region of South America. They are derived from the union of native Brazilian women and men of European descent. These interracial marriages were numerous in the 1700s, when white men were brought to the tropical jungle area of north central South America to help harvest the plentiful rubber supply.

Then, according to a Wikipedia entry “the men were never granted permission to leave, and thus married locally.”

The first part of that phrase sounds suspiciously coercive and maybe exploitative. And there are well-documented atrocities perpetrated against the men AND women of that region, all in the name of rubber greed. Too bad the bumper crop of latex used to create automobile tires and condoms could not have been harvested without a history of abuse.

Still, the Day of the Caboclo in the current age is honorable. No matter how an individual got here, his or her right to enjoy a day to honor his or her heritage should be protected. Or, perhaps we should decide that NO specific ethnic groups should be singled out and celebrated.

I do know this: people should not be defined purely by the color of their skin, but by their character underneath it. There are good Caucasians and bad ones–and those differing characteristics apply to people of ALL colors.

In the spirit of the Day of the Caboclo, I’m locating some bronze people today and congratulating them. I’ll begin at the tanning salon.

Dave Coombs is a longtime Caucasian morning radio host.

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