The Genesis narrative informs Christian believers that God creates with words and that God spoke the earth and its inhabitants into being (Genesis 1-3). I cannot imagine what those first days of the earth’s young life must have been like. Can you imagine a world where everything is new? Nothing had been used. Nothing was broken. Nothing dying or dead. Everything was new and shiny.
This is the promise that is offered to those who accept Jesus Christ, the promise of rebirth and consequently, newness of life. I find this promise especially liberating in terms of race and its stereotypes. As a believer, I can be made new and don’t have to live within the confines of racial prejudice (Galatians 3.28). No one is divided. There are no insiders and outsiders, no minority and majority. No one is hated. All is forgiven and all if forgotten. All are made one in Jesus Christ who is the word made flesh.
So, what words do you think that God used to create you? I am certain that God’s creation of human beings did not involve the words of race: “And she will be called white/ black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.” I am confident of this truth because God looked at the man and woman that He had created and called them both “very good” and according to race, there are some “races,” some people groups that are not good. Consequently, it would suggest that there are persons on the earth for which God did not speak good words about when creating. According to persons who believe in racial supremacy, there are some “races” that are not made for the earth. This is a drastically different creation narrative and should not be considered synonymous with the Genesis narrative neither should one attempt to place race or its rationale within the sacred story. God did not create racial beings but human beings.
It is because of race that we are recreated by American society; this social rebirth speaks us into an experience of opposition. Race is a tool of placement. It is how we have ordered the earth’s inhabitants and divide the earth among them. Race is not a word for creating people but divisions.
Last year, I was afforded the opportunity to lead a one day retreat on the race-less life. During this time, I asked participants to do a word association with regard to race. I extend this same opportunity to you. When you think of your identity as a colored person, black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige, what words come to mind? What words are associated with your racialized identity? What words were spoken in order for this identity to come into being? What words are you made of?