I had been looking for answers as to why God created me black after studying what Du Bois refers to in The Souls of Black Folk as “the problem of the color line”; the concept of “the Negro problem”; and socially defined black people as “the white man’s burden,” the title of the English poet Rudyard Kipling’s poem published in 1899 by McClure magazine. Ironically, the subtitle is “The United States and the Philippine Islands.” Needless to say, this social reality made me very angry with God. Race made me believe that God showed favoritism, that God loved some more than others, that God created the world for the leisure of some and for the exploitation of others. I thought this way for years as all of the answers pointed back to me and said that your appearance is to blame. Likewise, it is through no fault of their own that socially defined white people are better. They were created white.
Better. If I had continued to live life as a black person, I would never be satisfied with myself as socially defined white people are better looking, better positioned in life and better able to do seemingly everything. The racial life is a life lived in comparison and that comparison was the reason for my dissatisfaction with life and my displeasure with God. But God did not create humanity and say, “He or she is better.” God called the creation of humanity “very good” and God never compared me to anyone. In fact, according to Romans 2.11 and James 2.1-13, God doesn’t show favoritism. Race had been interpreting the Bible for me.
My position in life is a matter of interpretation and I have surmised that race is a poor interpreter of humanity’s purpose. As a Christian, there are other words that describe me, my position in life, my place in Christ and with God. I can choose to remain a victim of race or live my life as a victor with Christ. I cannot be both. I cannot claim the words of the psalmist who said that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139.14) and then espouse the notion that I am “black and ugly.” I cannot claim to be a son or daughter of the light and then sign an agreement with race to live in social darkness and to restrict my thoughts, behaviors, and aspirations to those defined by racial stereotypes. I cannot “put on the mind of Christ” and then think of myself as less than worthy of the love of God because of how I appear to society.
And there was no right or justifiable answer for the problems of race as the conception of race was birthed through the union of the lie of human inferiority (The writer of the letter to the church at Philippi told them “I can do all things through Christ.”) and capitalism. It is a bond that should never have occurred. Instead, I found my liberation in a question. Why do I have to be black? If I have a choice in my spiritual condition, if God allows me to choose to serve Him, then how do I not have a choice in my social condition– a condition created by humans? I have taken more steps forward through asking the right questions than in searching for the right answer. The preacher in me just has to say, “Jesus is the answer!” So what is race?