While I understand that, as Americans, we will be socially color- coded black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige and that we should be prepared for the subsequent perceptions, prejudices and stereotypes, I don’t hear anyone challenging the racialized view of human identity. Instead, we accept it without explanation. We live and see ourselves as we are told.
They say, “Persons believe and will say that you are black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige so this is how you should respond and behave. This is what you should expect.” They talk as if things will never change, as if people never change, as if I or you cannot represent a change in the way people see themselves and consequently, live their lives.
And what am I to do about the person that I was to become? Where should I place her or ask her to stand? Should I suggest that she excuse herself or fall in line so that we can live as race has instructed us?
What am I to say about her? What am I to say to her? “Shhh. They don’t want to hear from you. Talk black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.” When she attempts to stand up for herself, am I to ask her to sit down? Though she has already been born, am I to ask her to die, to sacrifice her life to race? Am I to simply forget about her dreams and aspirations, silence her voice, abandon her will?
Have I no power over race/ racism/ prejudice/ stereotypes? Must I fit into them, live up to them, believe in them, answer to them despite what they believe and say about me? Why must I show respect for something that evidently has not respect for me, that seeks to demean me, that hopes to hide me, that exists because I have abandoned the sacred search for me?
Have I have no say over my flesh, this corruptible thing? Is all that I am and ever will be tied to, bound by, dependent upon my skin and its social coloring? God forbid that I would give such power and control over to something that is aging and weakening. No, “whom the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8.36).
I must exist fully and truly instead of becoming another phantom of this world’s racial imagination. I must let the life I lead be my own not the story of days long gone, worthy of my forgetfulness.