When I speak of the social construct of race, its prejudicial view and stereotypical identifiers and our leaving it behind, persons get nervous. They seem to ask, “Where do we go from race?” Or, “If we get rid ourselves of race, there will be something else to replace it?” So, let’s just stick with this tyrant, you say?
But, if the possibility of liberation is possible, why continue to entertain this oppressive identity? Why believe that it will be replaced with another box or category? Why not rid ourselves of the social construct of race and experience the freedom of a race-less life for however long that may be?
And even after I have given a historical overview of race, identified its parents, provided the date when these racial identities came into being, still persons want to know what they are to do with their color now. What meaning can I attribute to my skin now? (As if it is somehow useless if we do not identify it by race.)
I can see a color and though it not beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white, there is a color there. So, what should I call it and more so, how am I to refer to myself because I am the social coloring of my skin. What does this difference in pigmentation mean apart from race?
Nothing. It means nothing. There are other ways to identify ourselves and to ascribe value, worth, meaning and purpose. The social coloring of our skin is superficial at best.
So, let it be. Let skin be skin. Don’t expect it to be power or beauty, the mark of privilege or burden. Don’t let skin put you in the center or the margin of society. Don’t let your skin tell you what to do or think.
Instead, let color be. Let color be color. Don’t imagine it to be something else. Don’t invest meaning where there is no possibility of real return.
Just let the skin cover and protect. Let it inform you of temperature and texture. Let is participate in how you feel– cold, hot, afraid, nervous and excited. Let it sweat or turn red. Let it get goose bumps and perspire. But, no more.
How we managed to make it more than that still baffles me. How we could allow our flesh to determine our future still frustrates me. Why would we place such knowing on something so outside of ourselves? Why do we want so much from color and why do we think that it can provide it?
Let is be dry or sunburned. Let it be bruised or scraped. Let it be smooth or hairy. Let it be young and taunt. Let it be old and wrinkled. But, just let it be.
And perhaps, we will see that there is something more to us, that if we let our skin be, then we can be more of ourselves. I think that we are afraid to find out and so we stick to the surface, too disoriented to dig deep within ourselves, afraid to let ourselves be.