Generally speaking, Americans prefer the binary thinking system. This is a very efficient way of thinking that might explain why US is the strongest country in the world but also the country with 5% of the world population and 25% of the world prisoners. The binary thinking system definition: Any complicated problem can be decoded into two simple, opposite, distinct, clear options. It’s either black or white and you must take side.
This way of thinking is most noticeable in the main stream American movies which make a clear distinction between the good guys and the bad guys. Good guys can’t have any fault and bad guys are only evil. Once you are out of those movies you have a feeling of immense satisfaction. The good prevailed, the bad guys got punished, and the world is back in order. After watching most European movies you go to sleep depressed and with a headache.
A relevant example is the latest statement by Donald Trump, the republican candidate for presidency, after the San Bernardino massacre:
“Muslims should not be allowed to enter the US”.
The original problem: Many extreme Muslims are terrorists; they belong to different terror organizations, religious streams, and have themselves conflicting interests. They kills people all over the world including other Muslims. We need to find ways to track those people once they are in the US, or prevent them from entering the country.
The problem after translating to the binary system: Do you think ANY Muslim should be allowed to enter the US?”. Either all Muslims are good or bad. You must take side. You can’t sit on the fence. Once defining the problem in simple terms it makes it approachable to all levels of the population regardless of education level. You don’t need to understand the subject of the terror to it’s depth with the history, root causes and motives of all sides in the equation. Once the problem simplified all you need to decide is are you Pro Muslim or Anti Muslim. Two clear options, black or white. No gray. The debate can now be handled by people with zero knowledge of religion, terror, conflicts and history.
Tamir Rice is a 12 years old African American boy who played with a toy gun and was killed by a policeman within two seconds of arriving on the scene. The binary system comes into effect in the following 911 conversation (word by word) between the guy who called to report about Tamir Rice playing with a gun in the park and the 911 Dispatcher.
911 Dispatcher: “What does he look like?” (spoiler: she wants to know his skin color)
Guy (naive): “He has a camouflage hat on”
911 Dispatcher (making it clear): “Is he black or white?”
Guy (did we say naive?): “Gray. He has gray coat with black sleeves and gray pants.”
911 Dispatcher (No skin color, no police): “Is he black or white?”
Guy (begin to wake up from his “we are all human beings” dream): “I am sorry???”
911 Dispatcher (punching the knock-out blow):
“Is he BLACK or WHITE?”
Notice that in all 3 questions she kept the order the same. First black and second white.
Guy (defeated and almost apologizing, whispering): “He is Black…”.
911 Dispatcher (once the skin color is clear, we can move on) : “He has a Camel Jacket and gray pants?” (Wrong. she hasn’t been listening to any clothing details since she was obsessed with the skin color)
Guy (back to square one): “No, he has a camouflage hat on”
So, either the 911 dispatcher assumed that the boy must be black or white, or maybe what she is actually asking is: “Is he black or not?”. Meaning, every skin color should be categorized as either black or non-black (white). If that is the case, to which category should we assign brown, dark white, light black and other skin colors? I assume all belong to the “white” bucket. The multi color problem is simplified to white and black options. Either you are [black] or [white = white, olive, brown, yellow].
Maybe It’s about time America will look in the mirror and understand she is not wearing only black or white clothes. It is about time to upgrade from the black-white binary system of the 1950’s to the 2016 rainbow – White/Brown/Olive/Black/Other. And guess what, they all can be good people or bad people. And they all can be that guy that is playing with his gun in the park. With the popular terror attacks by middle eastern guys, brown is going to become very popular skin color when it gets to a terror scene. Black and white might not be good enough to describe the suspect. Let’s add brown before it’s too late.
So, Tamir Rice, are you black or white?
Link to the 911 conversation: