“One must be careful not to take refuge in any delusions– and the value placed on the color of the skin is always and everywhere and forever a delusion.”
~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
Race is an illusion, a false belief that has placed us in a constant state of deception. We are trapped in a merciless cycle with those who are deceived and being deceived (II Timothy 3.13). It is the voice in our head and the reason why we live our lives in confinement, dressed in social straitjackets. Our faith in race and its reality makes us delusional as we see things about people that are not there. Yes, race makes us angry but it has also made us quite mad.
An obvious case is our belief and investment in stereotypes. We see people in colors and immediately, we are able to make judgments of them, their lifestyles and livelihood. We cannot be convinced otherwise because we know white/black/red/yellow/brown/beige people. We’ve “lived with them all of our lives.” But, we’ve never really lived with any of these persons though we may have had an experience with a member of this color- coded group.
We are trapped in a historical memory and unable to move past the experience. It is for this reason that many of us cannot participate in today because our identity is invested in yesterday’s offense and its pain. Consequently, our conversations become a series of repetitious ramblings about what has been done to us and what we could have been if not for race. It doesn’t matter that the day has passed or that weeks have gone by. We simply are unable to move on and move forward. And it doesn’t matter how many persons we are presented with that are contrary to our experience or belief, they are viewed as the exception not the rule. And we use our prejudices to support us.
There is a world outside of our prejudices. People cannot be contained by our stereotypes. Race is only in our heads. Snap out of it!