There are certain stereotypes and images associated with different races. Personally, I couldn't care less whether you are black, white, brown, red, or purple.... Media is partially responsible for this because of the way they consistently portray certain character types. When I think of a thug, I automatically associate the word with a black male. This is not racist, but it is what movies and Tv have exposed me to.
Race is a name that society has chosen to judge the individual. People are judged based on there color of skin, name, and socio-economic status. I was not aware of the intensity of race until I took a Sociology class. Everywhere a person goes, people will have bias due to race and other factors that effect that person.
Ask the young black man who got stopped and frisked on suspicion of shoplifting simply for being inside Barney's in New York. Or better yet, ask any black person anywhere about what's happened to them at least once when they get caught driving through a safe, white neighborhood. Or better than that, ask President Obama how many different racial slurs he's been called on Facebook in just the last 15 minutes. Race is still important, because we're still a nation of racists who refuse to move forward toward equality.
As much as America claims to be the "racist free capital of the world" we're more racist than many other countries. Its startling how race comes into play in our everyday lives. We may not say the racist terms or refuse them service for their race but when a black person walks into a jewelry store people can't help but get suspicious. It will take many more centuries to fully get rid of racism.
Race is still very important. Just look at how big of a deal it was when Barack Obama was elected. That was a big step for society. Also, we still have affirmative action and laws that are catered towards specific races. Race is still a very big deal and will probably always be.
While it'd be nice to have a world that race doesn't play a factor, it's just not realistic. Race still registers in your brain when interacting with people, whether you have dislike for them because of what they are or not. Virtually everybody, regardless of how open-minded they are has had a thought about something that happened that factors in the race of somebody involved.
Race is a factual characteristic that cannot be denied, even when blended it will still exist. However with regard to - "is it important in American Society" - I say no.
As countries go the U.S. is fairly tolerant of different races and although I am of a particular ethnic origin, I do not feel my race defines who I am, nor my experiences as a individual.
I have associates and family members for that matter, who differ in our fiscal, political, and social attitudes. Even amongst "whites" attitudes vary widely with regard to politics, religion, sexual inclinations, etc.
Based on my experience traveling/living outside the U.S. being "American" defined 90% of who I was and peoples attitudes towards me even though I am not a "white" American. People considered me "American" first and my non-white ethnicity second, if at all.
I believe that America (U.S.) is still a melting pot, that each newly arriving ethnic immigrant population both contributes to the fabric of what makes this country great, and is itself affected by the U.S. experience. And the long standing non-white races in America are no less important. For example "black" music, fashion, athleticism, etc., very much define what is considered "American" outside of the U.S.
The ongoing categorization by "race" only perpetuates perceptions of differentiation along race lines. There are plenty of other categories such as social economic status that would be more meaningful as a basis for the shaping of public/political policy. So although a multitude of races exist in America, it is not important in America any longer.
Race is not just important in American society; it is important in every country. Whether you want to believe it or not, America is one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Extremely tolerant compared to central european countries and many other countries such as India and Russia. Race is important everywhere, not just American society.