Race rules in America. It governs our thoughts, actions and social interactions. Almost everything we do is because of or in response to race. We trust race and its quick, go- to guide based on the social coloring of skin. Its stereotypes save us time and the energy of getting to know persons first. Its prejudices are time tested. There is no need to befriend this person or engage that group. It has not worked in the past so why should I think that I can change things?
We don’t believe that we can fight race so we join it, embracing the social coloring of skin and with it, the lies of race. It becomes our idol and we lend our members to its service. We say what race says and do what race does. Before long, we become slaves to race, unable to even think without it. We have become racialized beings, putting on race but I believe that the power of Christ to make us new creatures in Him, enables us to take it off (II Corinthians 5.16-17; Colossians 3.11; Galatians 3.28).
The power of race goes unchecked and unquestioned except in extreme cases of death by reason of stereotype or prejudice. It is only then that we push back and say that race has gone too far. We reconsider its position in our lives, its truths and we call for a time of peace. We remind each other that we are all human beings. Ironically, it is because of race that we are able to fool ourselves into believing that some persons are not.
But, not before long, we are right back with race. We fall right back in position and in line with its rules.
1. “If you’re white, you’re alright. If you’re black, get back. If you’re brown, stick around. If you’re yellow, your mellow.” Race tells us who to accept and to reject. We have preserved these social distances in simple, child- like rhyme and sadly, many of us have even internalized them. We do not wait for someone to judge us (as potential thief, for example) but instead, we cross the street to avoid their suspicions. We look away or down so as not to make eye contact, to appear disinterested and less threatening. We become the stereotype, thinking racially. We live the prejudices of race. And as a result, we are prevented from forming healthy relationships with persons of different cultures and opposing social colors.
2. “You can’t trust’em.” This advice is given to small children when they are beginning to seek out friendships. The words suggest that some persons are not dependable or reliable. This belief can influence the child later in life. If, for example, he or she becomes an employer, she or he may use these words as a means of examining potential candidates. This lie begets another and another. Soon, persons socially colored black/white/red/yellow/brown/beige are liars, thieves, murderers, devils even.
3. Black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people don’t ___________. Apparently, there is an assumed list of things that persons don’t do and these actions are determined by race and its stereotypes. Such a list reinforces the segregation of our socially colored bodies and informs us without a physical examination and irregardless of physical ability, that we cannot do it because no one in our socially colored group ever has or that the action has only been performed by persons of another socially colored group. Race has color coded our abilities, experiences and as a result, our aspirations. Race says that we must do as we appear not as we desire or are purposed.
The laws of race are laws of the flesh and they can be overturned. In fact, they already have been for believers in Christ Jesus. Race has been described as America’s “original sin.” But, the sacred Scriptures tell us, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Romans 6.10-12). What we as Christians must do is redefine race and its progeny as evil desires. We must die to it and live more fully to God. This sin of race should not reign in our bodies. It cannot condemn us (Romans 8.1-3). Break the laws of race!