I’ve done a lot of reading on race and its progeny, on the effects of our hatreds, on the traditions of prejudice. As a child, it began as an interest, a hobby. I was naturally drawn to things that were race- related. Not dolls, miniature kitchen sets or even sports but books, movies, pictures that told the story of race- relations.
And it only intensified while in college and after graduate school. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in a bookstore, looking for more books on race. I can’t seem to satisfy the need; it always asks for more.
Now more than twenty years later, I am still interested in race and there are no signs of dissipation. But, the focus is different.
I am now concerned about the lifespan of race. As much as I love to read about it, I now write about its end. For me, race is not relevant. But it remains so for many others.
Race remains relevant because:
1. We make it current. We make it new and give it new life. We tell the story of race and pass its segregationist traditions on to one generation after the generation. We tell them that things will never change and so they, this generation, doesn’t.
2. We are afraid to see persons differently. We are afraid to remove the lens of stereotypes. We don’t trust God’s vision more than race’s sight.
3. We are afraid to speak of persons without race. We are afraid not to repeat after race and its prejudices. Our vocabulary is strangely reduced when we cannot color code human beings.
4. We are afraid to move beyond the flesh. We are afraid to live in the Spirit. We are fearful because it is out of our control. We don’t make the rules there and we can’t change them. We are not in authority and everyone is really equal.
5. We think that race gives us a sense of power and control over others and the outcomes of life. Race offers to us a sort of peace through the abandonment of our will to a life that is preplanned and stereotyped.
6. We have not invested in any other language or way of being. We think that it would be too costly to leave race and we do not have the words to describe it. Or, we think that the new words are not enough in number or in impact. We don’t believe that there is a stronger or truer word than race. But, I have one: GOD.
7. We are afraid of what we might learn in the absence of race. The race-less life calls for a new mind, new thoughts and this might be frightening for those who have become accustomed to thinking one way. We don’t want to change our minds for fear that we might have been wrong all along about everything and every one.
8. We don’t want to be new. We would rather remain old creatures and not the new creation that God desires to make us (Second Corinthians 5.17).
9. We don’t have anything new to say about human beings. The sad fact is, we keep talking about race because we have not invested in seeing ourselves a part from it. We have been calling ourselves racial beings for more than four hundred years and don’t know how to say anything else. Our imagination has been captured and with it, the possibility of God’s vision for us to escape.
10. We are fighting hard to make God irrelevant. We want to believe that we can “live, move and have our being” apart from God (Acts 17.28). Race is one such attempt but it will never work.
6 thoughts on “Why Race Remains Relevant”
Regarding #6: We have the words haplogroup, haplotype, and cline – but they are very similar to ‘race’.
The most important relevance for race is the requirement by the 1964 civil rights act to track race in order to (hopefully) prevent discrimination. Racial statistics have been used by civil rights lawyers to prove that Black and Latino students are punished with suspension disproportionally more than White and Asian students for the same infractions.
Yes, Glenn. I don’t like any of those words. They don’t sound relational or… human. 🙂
With regard to the latter comment, I agree that it needs to be tracked but to what end? Where will the tracking lead us? After we have compiled the facts (of which we already know the result), what next? We simply need a change of heart.
We have enough statistics and examples of race- related hatred and the like. Now, we need to change.
What did you think of the book ‘The Nature of Race’ by Ann Morning?
I’ve read about half of it so far and I like it so far.
Oooh! Thanks, Glenn. I have not read this book but thanks so much for another resource. You are helping me and I appreciate you.