Keepin’ the Black Man Down: How Race Positions Us

To be a socially colored “black” person is to be kept down, prevented from rising and especially not to the top. If you are up, then you are an “uppity Negro” and out of place, out of character. You think that you are “better than your own people” and need to be taken down a peg or two… so that the socially colored “white” man’s foot can be placed back on your neck. This is the logic of race: cyclical and nonsensical.

One cannot improve her or his social standing as a socially defined “black” person because that is not what socially colored “black” people do, up is not where we belong. Yet, many African Americans say that American society is unfair, unjust and that we are not afforded the same opportunities as our socially colored “white” counterparts. But, if an African American becomes successful, he and she could be labeled as a race traitor. Questions arise as to how they attained the position and their ability to do so without assistance, without compromise, without “steppin’ and fetchin'”, without ‘actin’ white’ and thus, denying one’s “blackness” is seen as impossible. He or she could not have attained the position, secured the deal, awarded the degree on merit or ability. No, the socially deified “white” man must have helped you up and out. Surely, your blackness prevented you and you must have had a helping “white” hand. The goodness or favor of God is not considered.

Such arguments communicate, at least for me, that those socially categorized as “black” are not made for success, that the social coloring of our skin segregates us from the possibility, that a productive and beneficial life in America is “For White’s Only.” Many of us believe that African Americans, those socially colored as “black,” don’t have the best dressed skin and so we are unable to enter into particular institutions, arenas and establishments. Though God created the heavens, the earth and all of its inhabitants, American society was not made for the benefit of socially colored “black people.”  On all of God’s green earth, there is simply no place for persons socially colored as “black” to belong. So, come on back over and lie down.

God, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, who made the human foot cannot lift the real or imaginary limb, this social yoke of race off of another? An all- powerful God is not able to break the bonds of the human construct of race? The Creator of all of creations, who spoke the world into existence is limited by the words of race?  His word does not supercede the social predictions of racism? Surely, God does not serve the will of race neither does race serve the will of God. God remains three Persons though our speech might lead one to believe that a fourth has been added: Father, Son, Race and Holy Spirit.

African Americans, those socially colored as “black,” are supposed to be the underdog. It is who we have been and thus, it must be who we are, right? But, who is “we”? I don’t believe in this rationale for self- sabotage, that I have to lower my standard of achievement because of how I will be perceived by African Americans or treated by European Americans. I don’t accept this social position.  What of my own goals and ambitions, of God’s purpose for my life? As believers, we are to live in service to God’s will not race or some fictive community of millions who have agreed that “they” will turn their backs on us and that we will be labeled “not black enough” and discarded if we do not remain in position. No “white” man came up with this rule. It is not a foot that is the problem but the mouth of those who choose to repeat this social prophecy to others.

As believers, we are in Christ and thus, the social position of race is discounted. And for those of you who believe in Jesus Christ and yet would dismiss His ability to transform our social position, why believe in Him? What do you believe in Him for?  How is it that God, through His Son Jesus Christ, is able to redirect our lives from hell to heaven but is not able to change our plight in society? God can’t beat race? God does not trump race? The hand of God is not mightier than the foot of the socially colored “white” man?

As for me and my house, we will be identified by the hand of God not the foot of an socially constructed category of people. God has delivered me from the feuds of people (Psalm 18.43). I stand with my head held high because my position is in Christ Jesus (John 3.3,5; II Corinthians 5.16-17; Galatians 3.26-29, 4.19).

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