I’ve had problems with race and its socially constructed identities for a long time. While studying the origin and purposes of race, my finger pointing turned away from people, realizing that we are its victims. Ironically, we’ve empowered race through science and sacred Scripture. Now, it disempowers us.
We created a lie and know it to be such and now, we reverence it as truth. We built it together, law upon law, allegiance upon allegiance and now we cannot tear it down. It is because of race is within us. Our bodies are its skeleton; we give it support and structure. So connected to who we are and why we are and where we are that we can’t seem to stop believing in race.
But, the end of race is not in the passing of legislation but in the parting of our lips. We gave it life and now, we must speak its death. We must change the way that we talk about race.
Below is an attempt to change the conversation about race. I should add that I find it particularly difficult albeit impossible to share this identity while professing to be a baptized believer, one dead with Christ and raised as a new creature in Him (Colossians 3.3). Nevertheless, I speak this truth in love (Ephesians 4.15). These are the racial facts of life:
1. You can’t change who you are. You are what people see no matter what you say. You are your physical appearance. It is your external being that has value and meaning alone.
2. You can’t talk back to race. You are who race says that you are; your dreams, visions and opinions need not apply. It does not matter and it never will. Nothing can change or stop race.
3. It is your fault. It is because you are socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige that this happened or did not happen for you or to you.
4. You’re stuck in your socially constructed place. You cannot be moved and if you do, you’re an exception not the rule. You’re different and not like the rest of “them.”
5. Your relationships with persons in other socially constructed boxes will never change. They will always see you as the enemy and vice versa. That’s just the way that this life is.
6. “They” will never be your friend because we do not cross the “color line.” You will never be accepted so stay back. It’s best and safer that way.
7. Your God is white; it is the supreme social coloring of skin. You are beneath others, created merely to serve and to provide support for the kind of human beings that He really likes. Or, you are above all other human beings, those scrap, spare people and they will resent you/ attack you/ seek to overthrow you, leaving you in a position of defense and in a state of anxiety for the rest of your life.
8. I/ You deserve it: blessings or curses, privileges or burdens. You get it because of who you are, the way that you were created not because of anything that you have done. And you cannot undo it or give it back.
9. You are defined by your experiences. You are what happened to “your” people. There are no new experiences to be had by you because “our” people don’t do that. You’re not special; you’re just another member of the race.
10. You are no mystery. You are your history, a repeat of time past. You can only be what has always been. Things will never change because you will never change because race never changes.
These are just a few of the facts of a racialized life that I find troubling. Please add others so that we can continue to eulogize race. Ashes to ashes…
2 thoughts on “Racial Facts of Life”
And if you are mixed race, you are ‘neither / both’. Some of mixed race will be accepted everywhere. Some will be accepted nowhere.
Yes, Glenn! This is a noteworthy addition.