Race Is Not Human Nature

Nature, noun: “the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character; disposition or temperament; tendencies, desires, instincts governing behavior; the normal biological needs or urges of the body; sort; kind; character; the real appearance of a person or thing; accepted standards of basic morality or behavior” ~World English Dictionary

Race does not determine my nature because my nature is not racial but as a Christian, I believe that my nature is sinful. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (I John 1.8). This means that I am not predisposed to racially motivated or predetermined thoughts or behavior. We do not inherent habits, temptations or generational curses that are based on the social coloring of skin. African/ Caribbean/ Latino Americans, those socially colored or identified as black, are not by nature thieves or murderers or athletic or entertainers. European Americans, those socially colored white, are not by nature goodwilled or smart or racist or oppressive. Those indigenous to what is now the United States of America and socially colored red are not by nature violent or alcoholic or owners of casinos. Latino/ Hispanic persons, those who are socially colored or identify themselves as brown, are not by nature day laborers or farmers or unable to speak English. Asian Americans or those socially colored yellow are not by nature gifted in math and science, computer engineers or technicians or owners of a local Chinese food restaurant.

A racial nature is a stereotypical nature and thereby biased, general and loosely applied. It’s also wrong and hurtful. This racial nature is only sinful if it is not attributed to a socially colored white person. If, per chance, a sinful act is committed, grace is available but only to those socially colored white. Thus, to be sinful is to be socially colored black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige. Sin is then located in a social category and the only way to be found without sin is to be socially colored white. This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul writes to the Christians in Rome that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23). Race does not exempt us from being considered sinful. We are all numbered as sinners before God and our socially constructed race cannot save us from its penalties neither does it give us a hall pass to heaven. We are not made righteous before God because of any work of our flesh or its appearance but we are now the righteousness of God “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3.22). This is a matter of faith not in our skin but in the salvific work of Jesus Christ.

We are all sinful and may be tempted to engage in behavior that does not demonstrate the love of self, neighbor or God. I will sin without being told that I am a sinner, without having a single lesson in the act of sinning. The psalmist declares, “I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51.5). We are born with the predisposition to sin; we are not born with the predisposition to “act” white/ black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige. Instead, we are told and we are taught the ways of racialized human beings. We must not confuse racial formation with Christian discipleship.

I am a sinner saved by grace. I cannot be saved by race because it would be unnatural.

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