I Just Had to Say It

I couldn’t say black or white or red or yellow or beige or brown anymore.  I just couldn’t refer to people by social colors, pretending that their skin offered some innate, inherent meaning, that it suggested the manner in which they should be viewed and subsequently treated.  I didn’t believe in race and there was no amount of stories or statistics or stereotypes that could convince me that this construct was anything more than a figment of our social imagination.  Yes, I placed the White Man, the HNIC (Head Negro In Charge), the Buck, the Coon, the Mammy and the Picaninny in the same category as the Tooth Fairy, the Boogie Man, unicorns, leprechauns, Rudolph and all of the other reindeer.

But, I wanted to believe in race; I really wanted to.  I wanted to work with race; I didn’t want to fight against all of the hatred that race had worked so hard to create.  I tried to go along with its social program because it was easier to just repeat after my parents, teachers, American society and history than to find another word, another way of seeing and being in the world.  Besides, what other story did I have to tell?  What other vision of humanity did I have to offer?  What more was there to see in us?

But no matter how hard I tried to live in America’s racialized reality, I felt like a fraud, an impostor, inauthentic.  I couldn’t keep saying words that I didn’t mean or understand or like or agree with.  Was I really seeing what I was saying or pretending to see someone that wasn’t there?  I don’t see socially colored people.

And I don’t believe in race.  I have no faith in it and I don’t trust what it has to say about me or my neighbor or my God.  And so I said it.  I had no other choice.  I couldn’t keep it in my mind and I couldn’t hold my tongue back anymore.  I just had to say it.  Raceless.

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2 thoughts on “I Just Had to Say It

  1. Starlette: In last few days I’ve reading Paul Harvey’s Moses Jesus and the Evangelical Trickster in the South. I highly commend it to you. I notice where you are up to speed on Blum and Harvey’s new Book The Color of Christ. I heard the Blum interview on NPR Fresh Air yesterday. Also google the interview at religiondispatches.org
    Have a Great Thanksgiving.
    Oh. Love your Denzel story. Gonna share it with a friend in LA who wrote some episodes in St. Elsewhere, some of Denzel’s early work.

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