We, and by this I mean American Christians, have made race a part of our Christian faith formation, a part of what it means to be American because in order to be American, you have to be placed in a socially color- coded category. To be America is to be racialized, renamed as a red/ yellow/ brown/ beige/ black/ white person. You cannot exist in this society without it. And though sad it remains true for many that to be American is to be socially colored “white.” If you are not, then this is not your country. “White” equals American citzen. It doesn’t matter when or where or how your ancestors arrived. America remains the home of those free of color and the grave of those who are not. It is the social color of white that much of the country’s social and economic meaning has been invested in and is the image of the founding mothers and fathers, American genius and ingenuity, government leadership, “normal” beauty, superhuman strength, self- made success, paternal/maternal security and like. And if your skin “color” does not allow for a quick transferrence of power/social status, then you better start “actin’ white.”
We, as American Christians, have redefined goodness and rightstanding with God. If one is socially defined as “white,” then she or he is considered good and presumed to be a Christian. Historically, these persons were referred to as WASPs: White Anglo Saxon Protestants and the term was used to represent those who had an inordinate amount of wealth and social power. Though the term is a distant memory for most, the belief remains. And if one is considered socially colored “black,” one is made to feel as if she or he is the very appearance of evil and not a Christian. Because in America, not only does faith determine our position in society but our service in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Those socially colored white= missionary/savior/messiah while persons who are socially colored black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige= heathen/demon/devil. In America, our paternity as children of light and children of darkness is often determined solely on social appearance and/or physical traits and what we see is what we have been told to believe about “those people.”
We have also made race a part of God’s will for humanity and a part of God’s sacred work and word for Christian believers. Somehow, the story of the self- serving “missionary” zeal of those who arrived on Africa’s, what is now America’s and Hawai’i’s shores to “convert the heathen” has become sacred in its retelling over time. European colonizers saw America as a promised land. Unable to see themselves as Pharoah, they cast themselves as the children of Israel, which redirected ownership of the land and made their mission a part of the holy work of God. Consequently, killing became a sacred charge and colonization a means of conversion. These early European Americans had become disciples of race.
We now believe, consciously or unconsciously, that we are not children of God but children of race, that there are people who are children of darkness (e.g. persons whose ancestors were described as being from the Dark Continent, that is Africa) because of the social coloring of their skin. This is believed as opposed to the biblical meaning and usage of the term, used to represent those who had not confessed Jesus Christ as their Savior, “the light of the world” (John 8.12). We have taken this light, Christ’s light and made it dependent upon the social coloring of one’s skin and therefore, redefined His light as something visible and therefore observable. The light of race is an external righteousness that when applied turns the gospel of Jesus Christ upside down, emptying it of all of the countercultural, counterintuitive, countercarnal messages that Jesus shared with His early disciples: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. … “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. … You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But, I tell you don’t resist th evil doer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. … Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5; 6.1-8; 6.25-34; see also Matthew 10.32-39). See also earlier posts to include “Race’s Model Prayer,” “The Beatitudes of Race” and “The Ten Commandments of Race” for examples of the laws and beliefs that race creates.
It is for this reason that I say, “Woe to race.” Woe to you, race, pseudo- creator, deceiver! You divide up the earth and its inhabitants, neither of which you made. You have no hands but employ ours to mar the being of others and ourselves.
Woe to you, race, mute god, deceiver! Using the mouths of parents to devour children’s dreams, you lead us to draw false conclusions about our lives for the glory of confusion. You have no mouth but use ours to prevent genuine dialogue. We don’t know how and are afraid to talk about ourselves a part from you.
Woe to you, race, blind god, deceiver! Men and women have traveled over land and sea to convert in your name and they never see themselves again, lost in your translation of humanity from creature to color. You have no eyes but you prevent us from seeing ourselves and others as they are. Instead, we see them just as you say.
Woe to you, race, false priest, deceiver! We have studied your stereotypes and prejudices, taken oaths to stand by you. Your power is our self- ignorance. That is not a word of liberation on your tongue but a trap. You have not been sent by God. You have not saved us but delivered us into the hands of further self- destruction.
Woe to you, race, unjust judge, deceiver! We know the scales of social color are unbalanced, that some of society’s colors, some human beings are worth more than others. Still, we are are afraid to get off, to no longer use you as a measurement. But, there is a city called heaven, where you have no jurisdiction and where your laws do not apply.
Woe to you, race, unlearned teacher, deceiver! You have whitewashed and in turn, brainwashed humanity, believing that righteousness is found in the social coloring of skin and not in the name of Jesus Christ. But, there is a Teacher who will undo you, whose blood will reveal where we all stand.
Woe to race, hyprocrite, deceiver! You have built monuments to whiteness and its social purity, revealing the uncleanness of our hands, our self- aggrandizing and idolatrous inclinations, the unconversion of our hearts in their creation.
O thought, hypocritical belief, you are not so highly exalted that you will not be brought down. Woe to you, race!