Race does not exist. It is but a construct of our social imagination; a single mental image that is perceived as real and that we have agreed to bring into our reality. It is but a dream filled with mythical characters like the mammy, brute, Jezebel, and Uncle Tom. It is a place where people become colors– black, white, red, yellow, brown, half- breeds, mulattoes, quadroons and octoroons and are assigned worth and dignity accordingly.
Much like that of the Tooth Fairy and the Boogey Man, we will tell our children about race. We will tell them to expect its visit and we will reward them for believing. We will check inside the closet and look underneath the bed to reassure them, all the while knowing that race is not real. We are not racial beings but human beings. So, is it really belief or something else?
Why do we continue to perpetuate the belief in the existence of race and the practice of racism? Surely, there are better things to reward one for believing in and there are enough scary creations to frighten us than to make us afraid of ourselves and each other. Still, we clutch our purses, cross the street when we see someone of a cultural group different from our own approaching and avoid eye contact upon passing each other. In effect, we are pulling the bed sheets over our eyes, finding more security in this dream- like trance than in engaging life for ourselves and discovering that there is no one under the bed or in our closet, that we do not seek to harm each other because of the pseudo- color of our skin.
So, get out of the bed. Yes, it’s comfortable and it’s warm. Yes, you’re tired of fighting race and you just want to rest. Yes, it allows you to wear your favorite pajamas and life, whether good or bad, is predictable with race. But, after awhile your muscles will become rigid (Your mind will become rigid.) and later you will become bed- ridden, unable to move or think without the assistance of race. And you will have only experienced life through the lens of race.
I’m running today, not against race as it is no match for my humanity but I’m running toward myself. There is but one finish line.
3 thoughts on “One Finish Line”
Hi, I met you in Starbucks…I think as you were posting this. Very thought-provoking…especially the ending. It is comfortable dealing with race the way we’ve been taught, (by society, our families, our personal experiences)but when we stretch ourselves to operate outside our comfort zone, we enter a far richer, fuller life that is as diverse and exciting as God intended when He created all of us.
“I’m running toward myself”, nothing else needs to be said!
Thank you, Rev. Starlette, for this thoughtful, probing, and provocative posting. I love the ending…”I’m running toward myself. There is but one finish line.”