We talk about race all the time. It is the thought that is on the forefront of our minds and the word that is on the tip of our tongues. When something bad happens, we say, “Race did it.” When something bad happens, we say, “Race did it.” According to our conversations and life’s aspirations, there is nothing that race cannot do.
We want to talk about race because we know that it is problem and many of us want to fix it. This is why we talk about it so much. We believe that our words can change race.
We talk about race to our family and friends. We don’t mention race with strangers. It’s not kind. It’s impolite. We just want to have a good time and if you mention race, religion or politics, this will not be the result of our gathering. Race is off limits and yet, it is never on the margins of our minds.
We take it with us where ever we go. It is in us and it is on us. Race is not just what we think but it is who we are.
We say that we love our socially colored skin and existence. We say that we believe in and accept race but there are some things about race that we do not like, that cause us to separate and segregate.
We don’t want certain socially constructed races to touch our neighborhood, to touch our playgrounds, to touch our schools, to touch our jobs. We only want to certain kinds of hands around us and our children. We want to be able to say of our selves that we love and accept everyone. But, there are just some things, some people, some places that we do not want to share. We don’t want “them” to touch it. Consequently, our unity is “touch and go.”
How can two walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3.3)? This is an important question because many of the problems associated with our progress in the dialogue about race is the result of disagreement. We believe very different things when it comes to race and it impacts each person differently. We have all had different experiences and thereby, have varied expectations of race.
It’s a touchy subject because of our varied experiences and expectations. We disagree as to whether it is real or socially constructed, good or bad, for or against us. We believe that to change our present understanding of race is to deny the history of abuse due to this social construct. We don’t want to lose our position as victim and our rationale for unforgiveness. Or, we don’t want to lose our position as superior and our rationale for oppression. Race means very different things to each person and the threat of changing it causes angst and anger.
It’s a touchy subject because of the purpose we have assigned to race. Many persons, Christians included, believe that they are saved by the social coloring of their skin. If there is no power in race, then they are not certain as to their position in society or their purpose in life. If our success and beauty is not determined by race, then how do I know that I am either? We view race as the solution and without it, we have some serious problems.
It’s a touchy subject because we have immortalized race. We are not comfortable with the thought that race is a social construct, that it is temporal and can leave us. We have invested a lot into race. It is a story that we are familiar with and we don’t know how our story would end without it. This uncertainty causes discomfort and panic even. We believe that to deny the existence of race is to deny our own.
We have made race a god. We reverence and worship race. We trust race and obey its commandments.
This is why it is a touchy subject. This is why a discussion about a post- racial world seems absurd or impossible. This is why we cannot see ourselves a part from the lens and the social prescriptions of race. It is because we will not touch what we feel touches us in divine and eternal ways.
But, race is human, flawed and it has come to an end. We just have to touch the subject of race-lessness and it no longer exists or rules over you.