Part of my goal when writing about the race-less life is to undermine the meaning and worth of race, its practices and its ability to socially color and in turn, recreate human beings, to express a perspective that demonstrates our idolatry to race and finally to hopefully turn our eyes away from it and toward a more meaningful and richer experience of Jesus Christ. During this season of Lent, I have decided to not only give up a few things but add a few practices to my daily devotion. In addition to reading the lectionary, I have incorporated a recitation of the Apostles Creed, a statement of Christian belief that is believed to date back to the 5th century and parts of which were dictated by the Twelve Apostles. There is debate as to who and even when it was written but there seems to be a consensus on the fact that it was first mentioned in a letter in 390 written by Ambrose to Pope Siricius.
Apart of my desire to now say it each day is born of my readings on Christian discipleship and the fact that it links me with Christians from thousands of years before. It is amazing to say what so many other believers have said and shared as a common belief. It grounds me in a community of believers and in a history that strengthens my understanding of what it means to be a Christian and informs me of what it meant to be a Christian so long ago. But as I recited it, I began to think of the beliefs that we recite daily, exchanged in conversation and that connect us as Americans and dare I say it, as Christians.
It is a creed that has been passed down for hundreds of years, from generation to generation, passed with the dinner rolls as you sat at the kitchen table, passed while sitting on the floor between your mother’s knees as she combed your hair for school, passed along as a word of advice that would keep you safe from “those people.” I don’t know the source or when it first began but it remains true of the idol, America’s god of race. Though such a statement conflicts with the doctrine of creation, the nature of God and the will of God for humanity, many Christians and nonChristians affirming the Genesis narrative, we say it anyway. It is an unconscious daily practice of devotion; we close our eyes and say:
I believe in Race, the Source of human identity, worth and purpose, Creator of all people groups.
I believe in Whiteness, its only color, our symbol of social perfection.
Whiteness was conceived by the power of the Enlightenment and born of American capitalism.
Whiteness suffered under emancipation and desegregation, was cloaked, did ride and was protected by our legal systems.
Whiteness descended to the depths of human identity with the assistance of law and social custom and rose on our lips as omnipotent and omnipresent truth.
Whiteness ascended into government and is seated at our dinner tables, in the cubicle, in social clubs, in our council, committee and executive board meetings, in the stands, in the classroom, on the bench, at the Communion table, in the pew, in the pulpit and on our right shoulder.
Whiteness comes to our minds when judging all colored people, living and dead.
I believe in prejudice and stereotypes,
the holiness of skin, the communion of only those who “look” like me,
the forgiveness of “good colored folk”,
the elevation of the body to divine based solely on appearance,
And life lived separately.