How We Emerge

Racism, prejudice and stereotypes are a problem. Most, if not all persons, would agree that they produce more conflicts than resolutions, offer more questions than answers. We need only watch the evening news or visit a news website to hear about yet another incident of violence incited by race.  But, no matter how many times a crime is committed because of prejudice or explained away due to stereotypes, we will not talk about ridding ourselves of race. We seem unable to connect the dots, draw the conclusion or make the decision that the foundation of these practices and beliefs needs to be eradicated.

Race is not good for humanity, our personal identity or that of others. We can’t explain racism without discussing America’s history of enslavement of Africans. We cannot practice prejudice without assuming the worst about others. We cannot employ stereotypes without making assumptions that are rooted in unfounded and inconsistent generalizations of entire populations of people groups.  But, what troubles me most is that this has become our truth.

We have become the stereotypes though caricatures and we believe the prejudices about others and ourselves. We believe in race and its social hierarchies, not needing to be told what our social color does. And we have become instructors in our own oppression and self- denial. No one has to tell us that we are socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige. We tell ourselves and we teach our children these social colors. We become witnesses of race because we have not truly looked at ourselves.  But, we will not find ourselves until we are able to face ourselves, not as we are seen by others but as we are seen by God.

It is only then that we will challenge race and its progeny, that we will stop repeating what is said about us and begin initiating our own views.  It seems that we have grown comfortable as the victims of race and perhaps, this is why a race- less life might be considered threatening. Victimhood has become our identity and we are victims whether we view ourselves as oppressed or oppressor so long as we remain in this racialized society. No one lives unscathed. But, when we stop thinking in prejudice and speaking in stereotype, we will have find our minds and our voices. It is only in losing race that we emerge.

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4 thoughts on “How We Emerge

  1. Hi Starlette,

    re: “Race is not good for humanity, our personal identity or that of others.”
    How do you mean? I’m thinking that the differences in people should be appreciated and respected.

    re: “We believe in race and its social hierarchies”
    Do you feel that most believe in ‘race’ as a biological reality? (That was taught to me in Jr. High – not sure if it’s still taught in our public schools.)
    Do you feel that most believe in a ‘racial’ social hierarchy? (I see this as an ongoing issue that is slowly improving over time.)

    1. Good morning Glenn,

      It is always great to hear from you. To your questions: Race is not good in any respect because of its origin and purpose. The meanings of race, whether biological, social, prejudicical, stereotypical or otherwise, are self- serving and hierarchical. They do not promote or engender respect for one’s self or others. Instead, race seeks to pit one group against another, to raise one cultural group above another. It is used only to compare (though under the cloak of explanation) and should not be used as the basis for identification for this reason (and others). Thomas Gossett’s book Race: The History of an Idea in America is a brilliant read and thoroughly charts the development of race from old fables through the Enlightenment period. It also captures the beginnings of a biological basis for race. I am not certain of what most people believe about race but I do think that persons believe whatever they’ve been told about themselves and others. In my opinion, we do not seek to know ourselves a part from social determinants such as race. Instead, we are told/ taught who we are. In some classrooms, students are being taught that the differences in complexion are due to the prevalence or absence of the sun in certain parts of the world (This is a really old and overly simplistic argument so I don’t really see much progress in terms of educating persons concerning race.).

      Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader edited by Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze is a collection of writings on race during the European Enlightenment and captures various philosophers’ take on human physical differences. Its writings like these that undergird my convictions concerning race but ultimately, one of the blog’s purposes or underlying themes is to turn persons away from Enlightenment’s reason back to religion. It is my hope that persons would find themselves in the identity of Christ, which seeks to unify and remove all barriers (cf. Galatians 3.28; Colossians 3.11). From a Christian point of view, this racial identity would then be seen as social/ worldly/ secular/ carnal and thus, temporal.

      Again, I cannot say what most people believe but race does promote this social hierarchy. I think that the rungs remain in place; we are simply switching out who’s on the bottom though I would certainly hope that things are improving. Thanks again for your continued support. I certainly appreciate it.

      sm*

      1. Thank you for the book recommendations. I will let Steve Riley know if he hasn’t already listed them on his blog Mixed Race Studies. And you are sure correct about “… persons believe whatever they’ve been told about themselves and others.”

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