There is a childhood chant, a buffer against bullies that I was taught as a child: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” The words came to mind yesterday but they had changed a little: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but race will never hurt me.”
To be sure, words hurt. But, I believe that we can determine if they do. While there are some people that we have to live with (e.g. if children, your parents) or feel that we cannot live without (e.g. a spouse or close friend), we can decide that their words will not hurt us. We can create a buffer, a shield as I have regarding race.
However, this is not an endorsement of abuse of any kind. You don’t have to sit and take it, sit and listen, keep making this bed and lying down in it because you feel that you are trapped. You don’t have to stay because you have a say in how you are treated.
What I am saying is that you can determine the credibility of words based on the character of the person. If the person is dissatisfied with her life, then you might not take to heart their nitpicking of the minor issues of yours. If the person is a habitual liar, then you might consider not asking him to tell you the truth about yourself. It is usually self- serving and will aid in his own self- delusions of grandeur.
Now on to race. I have studied race– not just experienced racism or practiced prejudice. But, I have read extensively and written extensively for that matter on the social construct and contract. And I have determined, at least for myself, that race is not a credible witness to or of my humanity, that it cannot speak on my behalf, that it only knows me by category and stereotype, that it does not care about my thoughts or unique interests but prejudges me.
We do not have the kind of relationship that would put race in a place to offer me counsel on life and love, guidance in decision- making or encouragement with regard to the practice of my faith. We are not family, not distant relatives, not even fictive kin.
The fact is race is not close to me and doesn’t come close to me. It in no way captures who I am. Therefore, I will not allow its words to get to me, my essence, my being. That is a place reserved only for God.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but race will never hurt me.”