We, The People?

“Black people don’t talk like that.” “White people don’t think like that.” “Red people don’t act like that.” “Yellow people don’t listen to that.” “Brown people don’t dress like that.” Beige (i.e. those socially designated as belonging to two “races” and therefore of a “mixed racial heritage”) people don’t look like that.” Who sets these standards, these criteria for “racial” groups? From where are these racial group configurations derived and how long have they existed? Who can say what an entire culture or people group does and how does one individual speak for “us”?

Race is treated as an expert in the ways of humanity. We are easy to figure out; our meanings are color- coded. We need only look at one another and we can draw conclusions. We can discern the beginning, middle and end of the life of any individual based solely on the social coloring of one’s skin. Race makes us wise in our own eyes and gives us the feeling that we are all- knowing. We talk about race as if it knows us better than we know ourselves, that it was before us, that it created us. We learn about race and begin to feel that we are… experts of the people.

We are known by our color and yet, unknown. We are claimed based on the social coloring of our skin and yet, don’t feel that we belong anywhere. We are called by our color and yet, race answers nothing about our identity and purpose. Race does not determine who we are; instead, it reveals our lack of discipline in gaining a biblically informed self- understanding. So, we give in to the social conclusions of race, its prejudices and stereotypes. We talk about race and yet, race does not truly speak for us. Race has it all figured out though there are things that we don’t understand about its prejudices, though its stereotypes are not absolute, though we find within us an internal disagreement with its findings about us and those we love. Still, we treat race as if a supreme and sovereign god, as if it is beyond our comprehension, that its thoughts are above our thoughts and its ways above our ways, as if we will “understand it better by and by.”

But, only God knows us and only God should speak for us because we are the people of God not the people of race.


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