Race has a lot to say about you and me, “us” and “them.” This social construct tells us who we are and will be, where to go and where we are not welcome, whether we are in or out, center or margin. Race tells us where we belong and when. A director of our society, it gives us orders and in so doing, orders us, categorizes us, boxes us up and stacks us up on top of each other.
But, I think it’s time to interrupt, to get a word in, to change the conversation and the direction of our relationships. Frankly, why does race have all the say about my life and the ways in which I live and perceive it? Who says that I can’t butt in, that my life does not have a point to make a part from those stereotypical.
I used to like the social construct of race; that is, before I heard what it had to say about me. I had listened but never fully considered its limitations. And upon learning them, race gave me no other alternative. I knew that our relationship would be different from many who preceded me because I could not agree with the terms.
Race said that I am a quadroon. My father is bi- cultural, African and European American and my mother African American, which makes me “one fourth black.” I’ve never really liked math and this is one equation that certainly does not add up.
And what of the word? What does a quadroon do? How is a quadroon to behave? What is the meaning and purpose of my life as a quadroon? The Huffington Post offers a sort of class for beginners in an article titled “Quadroons for Beginners.”
Still, the word neither solves nor settles anything for me. I am not certain of how I am to live in this category, what it means other than the social color combination of my parents and their parents. What more can race say? I need more than this word and its stereotypes, more than a number, a percentage: one fourth, more than a minority, a fraction of the population. This is who race says that I am and it is simply not enough.
What does race say about you and do you believe it?
5 thoughts on “Who does race say that I am?”
My race is the oppressive one and the shoe fits, but I’m not gonna wear it.
And racial justice is what the president forgot to mention yesterday in his State of the Union address.
Glenn, I appreciate your willingness to confront the challenges of racial identity and its systems of oppression. And oppression does not come in your size. The shoe does not fit, my brother.
With regard to the President and his address, perhaps, you should submit your name as advisor on his speeches.
There’s some abstract terms in this article that need to be defined. They’re too vague. “Race has a lot to say…,” “This social construct tells us…,” “A director of our society…” Would it not lead to a clearer understanding and be more accurate to replace those terms with “The people who classify themselves as “white” and believe in and/or practice racism/white supremacy?”
Have you ever heard of the book called, “The Invention of the White Race,” by Theodore Allen? There are two volumes. They are very informative.
“The ‘white race’ must be understood, not simply as a social construct, but as a ruling-class social control formation” — Theodore Allen
What does race say? The only purpose for being a member of a “race” is to practice racism. One of the main purposes for racial classifications is to cause conflict and confusion among victims of racism.
Thanks for your responses and questions.
I use the phraseology of social coloring of skin when speaking of race as there are no physically colored black, beige, brown, red, yellow or white people. Yes, I have Allen’s work; I actually came across his writings while in college about 10 years ago. David Roediger and Thomas Gossett have greatly influenced my point of view while ultimately I rely on Scripture to inform my understanding of self, my neighbor and society.
Finally, I very much appreciate your last comment and agree with you.