Dr. Chris Brooks

I have 2 teenage daughters, and when they were younger they loved P. D. Eastman’s book, “Are You My Mother?” In this book, a mother bird leaves her unhatched egg and hurries off to make sure she has something for her little one to eat once he makes his way out of the shell. Unfortunately, as soon as she’s gone, out pops the baby bird, unintentionally abandoned. The baby bird immediately goes in search of his mother, having no idea what she looks like. This makes finding her quite a challenge. He approaches multiple other animals, all of whom tell him that they are not his mother.

One of the subtle messages in this children’s book is that identity matters. When identity is not properly formed and defined, the search for identity can lead down a variety of paths…and this search is a lonely journey for the seeker. Without guidance, someone may take on a false identity – or worse, never form one. If identity is never formed, the seeker continues reaching out to anyone who seems friendly, constantly asking metaphorically “are you my mother?”

My social media platforms have become an active place for a diverse and eclectic community to dialog with and learn from others. In this digital community, the wealthy interact with those in poverty. Americans communicate with Pakistanis, and white CEO’s exchange ideas with BIPOC college students. It is fascinating to see the dialog that occurs when physical proximity is not a barrier to relationship and conversation.

Some time ago I curated and analyzed the most interactive and energized conversations from my Facebook page. The two most “popular” topics are: 1) political homelessness and 2) racial tension.

The political conversations I curated bear out that our two-party system in America has become so dichotomized and polarized that the majority of participants feel…abandoned. Lost.

In contrast, the conversations on race bear out that the majority of participants feel…misunderstood. Most people come to the conversation as if it is their job to define terms and aggressively call out other racial group(s) for erroneous thinking and statements, which too often throws gasoline on a raging dumpster fire of pre-existing confusion and pain.

Then there are the posts that combine politics and race. Whenever I see one of these threads emerging on my feed, I know that I need to monitor them more closely than the others. These back-and-forth exchanges can get ugly fairly quickly. Far too often, someone makes an ignorant comment and the explosive sparring begins.

I am a multiracial, multiethnic, politically independent guy. In this world of black and white (and red and blue), the ability to dream and think in vibrant color is not only an asset – it is potentially our Nation’s greatest need in this season of American history.

When we understand and embrace that every human being is equally valuable and that we are all innately interconnected by the nature of our humanity, we can stop the frantic search for identity and walk away from identity politics. Or stated another way: no more looking for identity in all the wrong places..