A Race-less Reading List

In order to live race-less life, you have to invest in resources that support this new way of thinking and being in the world.  It is not enough to say that you are race-less, but you must seek out the words and truths that support and affirm this declaration every day.  This truth is not on billboards.  The race-less gospel does not have its own television commercials or shows.  It’s not discussed on major networks or displayed on magazine covers.

It’s not popular or trendy or fashionable to deny what seemingly everyone so easily accepts.  This race-less life is not easy because there is no celebrity behind it.  It does not come with a product offer.  I’m sorry but I don’t have a t- shirt or a mug to send you.

The race-less life is not celebrated or highly sought after and perhaps, that is it’s biggest attraction.  It is but a part of the new identity and abundant life that Jesus offers and promises to give us (John 10.10).  He’s not always popular but he is always our model and we do have his word: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ” (Galatians 3.28; cf. Colossians 3.11).

If you do not want to know what race really is, then you really do not want to know who you truly are.  If you do not care that race is a lie, then you have no interest in seeing your true self.  It is not enough to say that race is a social construct, if you have created a mental house for it to live in.  Make no place for race and no excuses for its life with you.

Reading about race and its progeny reorient, reposition and remind us of the place and limited power of race in the life of the Christian believer.  Primarily, it is important to turn our minds away from race because it is a thought that seeks to exalt itself against the knowledge of God” (Second Corinthians 10.3-6).  Race is a social doctrine; it does not support but seeks to undermine the authority of the believer and supplant the rule of God.

Secondly, we must turn our minds away from race because our thoughts should not be subjected to its social truths but God’s truth.  Let God be true and race a liar.  We must choose whom our minds will serve and which will lead us.  As believers, we do not belong to race but are now members of Christ’s body: “If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this” (Second Corinthians 10.7).

Finally, we must turn our minds away from race because the war in our minds is not physical but spiritual as are our weapons (Second Corinthians 10.4).  Race switches our opponent and makes people not Satan our enemy.  Race places us on the wrong side of the battlefield as we begin to attack ourselves, our God and our neighbor.  We become the accuser of the brethren and believe that all those who don’t “look like us” have come to steal, kill and destroy (The Revelation 12.10; John 10.10).  Race is the enemy not fellow believers (or unbelievers for that matter) and certainly not God.

But, if we don’t change our minds about race, we will never change our perspective on life and our living it with Christ.  We have been ensnared by race for hundreds of years now.  We know that it’s trap and yet, have made it our abode.  I am simply offering an opportunity to not just change the furniture or to clean up a bit but to leave race altogether.  And that begins in your mind.  So, read this and this and this!

Begin to read the Holy Bible without the lens of race and the goal of proving them wrong/ you right, them weak/ you powerful, them rejected/ you chosen.  Read the Bible for the strengthening of your personal relationship with God not for the approval of your racialized motivations and aspirations.

Jacques Barzun’s Race: A Study in Superstition is just that.  Race is stripped of its magical powers and god-like status with each chapter.  Bibbity- boppity- gone!

“As long as people permit themselves to think of human groups without the vivid sense that groups consist  of individuals and that individuals display the full range of human differences, the tendency which twenty- eight years ago I named ‘race thinking’ will persist” (ix).

Thomas Gossett’s Race: The History of an Idea is more than four hundred pages in length but it is well- worth your time as Gossett examines early race theories, scientific racism, literature and the like, tracing the roots of race right back to us.

“Before the eighteenth century, physical differences among peoples were so rarely referred to as a matter of great importance that something of a case can be made for the proposition that race consciousness is largely a modern phenomenon” (Chapter 1: “Early Race Theories,” 3).

Winthrop Jordan’s The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States is a jewel in my library.  It’s loaded with truths that undermine the lie of race.  One of my favorites is this:

“The terms Indian and Negro were both borrowed from the Hispanic languages, the one originally deriving from (mistaken) geographical locality and the other from human complexion. … After about 1680, taking the colonies as a whole, a new term of self- identification appeared– white” (52).

Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract was inspired by Carole Pateman’s Sexual Contract and  argues that ‘the racial contract’ is a social (i.e. the people’s contract).  I don’t think that this can be repeated enough.  We agreed to race.

“The general purpose of the Contract is always the differential privileging of the whites as a group with respect to the nonwhites as a group, he exploitation of their bodies, land, resources and the denial of equal socioeconomic opportunities to them.  All whites are beneficiaries of the Contract, though some whites are not signatories to it” (11).

David Roediger’s How Race Survived U.S. History: from Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon.  Roediger is a well- know race- writer and historian.  I think that the title is as good a synopsis of his book and his definition of race alone is worth the cost of the book: “Race defines the social category into which peoples are sorted, producing and justifying their very different opportunities with regard to wealth and property, confinement and freedom, citizenship and alienation and, as Ruth Wilson Gilmore puts it, life and premature death” (xi-xii).

Though I would like to review all of the books in my library, energy and our son’s nap time are both limited.  Here are a few others to place on your must read list.

Theodore Allen’s The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo- America

Allan Boesak & Curtiss Paul DeYoung’s Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism

Edward J. Blum & Paul Harvey’s The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

Curtiss Paul DeYoung’s Coming Together in the 21st Century: The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity

Richard Ford’s Racial Culture: a critique

George Kelsey’s Racism and the Christian Understanding of Man

Robert Knox’s The Races of Man

T.B. Maston’s The Bible and Race: a careful examination of biblical teachings on human relations

Shameless plug! Starlette McNeill’s “In Search of a Race-less Gospel” featured in Faith Forward: a Dialogue on Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity (Chapter 3)

Michael Omi & Howard Winant’s Racial Formation in the United States: from the 1960s to the 1990s

Nell Irvin Painter’s The History of White People

David Roediger’s Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past, The Abolition of Whiteness, Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White and The Wages of Whitness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

Audrey Smedley and Brian D. Smedley, Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview

Thomas Sowell’s Race and Culture: A World View

Toure’s Who’s Afraid of Post- Blackness? What it means to be black now

Frank Snowden Jr.’s Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks

I’ve provided just a few of the books that I would suggest for those who are seeking the race-less way of life.  What books would you suggest?  I think that I have room for more on my bookshelf.

 

 

 

 

 

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