Living the racialized life calls for twenty- four hour surveilance as there is always something being said or not said, being done or not done on the basis of race. All verbal and nonverbal communications, actions and reactions must be scrutinized for potential harm to us. We must always be ready to defend and thus, we are always on the defensive because we are always being attacked. What did she or he mean by that? Did this happen or not happen because of the social coloring of my skin?
We are watchmen and women on this wall of socially colored skin. And so long as we believe in race, we will never come down. We will never back down. We will never surrender to the fact that maybe there is nothing really to fight for or against. Still, our bodies, our homes, our communities become fortresses made of flesh. We stand side by side to defend this cause that we don’t quite understand and are not fully persuaded by. We stand in agreement with race, not knowing which side we are on, not knowing what we will gain or lose or if it is even worth it.
We enlist our children in this cultural war before they are even born. We train them in the strategies of race, its privileges and disadvantages, its prejudices and stereotypes. We put on the whole armor of race so that we might be able to stand against the wiles not of the devil but of ourselves and our neighbor. If I might use the words of Paul found in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus to explain (Ephesians 6.10-18, NRSV):
Be strong in this carnal race to the top of the social/ economic/ political ladder and in the strength of the power of socially colored skin. Put on the whole armor race that you may be able to stand against the wiles of socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people. For we struggle against these enemies of blood and flesh who seek to be rulers and authorities over us, against those who seek to exert pseudo- divine power over us (which is impossible because we are the “chosen” people), against the social forces of evil in earthly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of race so that you may be able to stand on that evil day because “they” are coming after us.
Stand therefore and fasten the belt of lies around your waist and put on the breastplate of pride. As for shoes, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim this gospel of social/ spiritual/ economic division. With all of these take the shield of carnal supremacy, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of “those people.” Take the helmet of intellectual arrogance and the sword of nationalism, which is the word of race. Hate in your heart at all times and on every occasion. To that end keep alert and always perservere in love for your kind only.
When will we stop fighting in the name of race? When will we take off this armor? We may not be able to take it all off in one day but let us begin at least to take it off piece by piece. What of this armor will you remove today?