“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him: This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews says: Let my people go, so that they may worship Me. But if you refuse to let (them) go and keep holding them, then the Lord’s hand will bring a severe plague against your livestock in the field– the horses, donkeys, camels, herds and flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt so that nothing of al that the Israelites own will die.” And the Lord set a time, saying, ‘Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.’ The Lord did this the next day. All the Egyptian livestock died, but none among the Israelite livestock died.”
Moses was called to lead the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He was charged with walking in front of them, guiding them to the place, the promised land, that God had prepared for them. He didn’t even possess the words with which to motivate them, save the mouth of God. And it wasn’t his plan though it was his purpose. There were millions of Israelites and though many, they were not able to move except for the courage of Moses.
The same can be said of David who, though the smallest and the youngest, fought Goliath who stood at over nine feet tall. Goliath’s armor and helmet alone weighed one hundred and twenty five pounds (I Samuel 17.5). Though there were thousands of soldiers, David was the only one who had the courage to face the giant. He asked of Goliath, “Just who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” The same can be said of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman married to a Persian king who prevented the genocide of the Jewish people during the Persian empire. The words of her uncle Mordecai were these: “Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4.14). After deciding to approach the king though against the law, Esther reponded, “If I perish, I perish.”
Courageous individuals who stand for truth when the lie is easier and safer to believe are seen time and time again in others like Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One person possessing the courage to stand for right though outnumbered by social wrongs, who though in the same place at the same time do not see things the same way and call for something different. It reminds me that there may be strength in numbers but there is not always courage.
Almost all of us adhere to the colors and categories of race. We do not challenge the dictatorial rule of race or the daily bombardment of injustice. We don’t like the names that race calls us but we continue to answer to them. We don’t like the problem that it has created but we maintain its social positions. We know that it prevents us from forming and maintaining healthy relationships. And we know that it brings confusion into our relationship with God and causes conflict in the practice of our faith. We know that it is wrong but there seems to be no one who will call for its exodus.
Race was not here before us; we are not subjected to its rule. We owe nothing of ourselves to it. It does not identify us but we have given it our identity. It was never stronger; we gave it our strength. Race is not a natural law; we made it legal. It is not a place but a position and it’s inside of us. We must tell race to leave.
Where has race brought us from and where is race leading us? What are the promises of race? Who has called race as a leader and what is the purpose of its leadership? We have gone from name to name, from oppression to oppression, from injustice to injustice, from misunderstanding to misunderstanding, from wound to wound. Not suprisingly, we have made no progress with race; categories and boxes don’t lend themselves to movement.
So, here I am, calling for us to no longer be led by race but for race to leave us. I know that race has always been our oppressor. I am aware of the size and strength of its systems. I am versed in its laws and amendments. Still, I am calling for us to no longer follow race but for us to lead race to the Red Sea of our memories, its voice to be drowned out and its rulings against humanity to be submerged by our tongues, never to rise again. I am calling for the exodus of race.