While I understand the angst, disgust and frustration of those who hear the word post- racial and point quickly to the latest example of racialized injustice (also known as hubris, selfishness, self and other- hatred and self- deception), I struggle with communicating my need to move past the social construct of race. I am tired of building it up, of holding it together, of supporting race. I am so tired of race being a part of what holds me and you together because it doesn’t.
Instead, it tears me and you apart while pointing the finger at us. You did it. No, you did it. And yet, it is true. It is not race at all but it is me and you who construct race as the reason for our differences and our not coming together.
This is why I don’t want to talk about race anymore. I want to talk about our shared humanity. Because if we are talking about race, then we are not talking about our humanity. My external appearance is not what makes me a human being because I lose my hair and my skin is wrinkling and my eyes itch. They all change; my humanity does not.
Race is not synonymous with identity or personhood. It is no substitute for being or becoming. It is not a way of relating to ourselves or our neighbors. And I am simply tired of hearing persons say that it is and it is the only way to be, see or do any of these things.
My hope comes in three parts: prayer, desire and craving. It is this need to create a community without race. I don’t want and I can’t want anything else. It is the way that I was made.
I know that this need may not be shared. So, I am not asking for persons to hurry their conversations with self or others. Take the time to figure out what you are saying and what is being said about you. Listen and respond for yourself.
However, I am concerned about the repetition of what we have done against each other, said again and again not in hopes of harvesting insight but in order to harden ourselves. We repeat the stories in order to toughen up, to close off and to close ranks.
I am not demanding that we keep silent and not challenge those who commit deeds of hatred, that we fearfully acquiesce and believe the lie that change happens without difficult conversations and hard emotions. Yes, do all of this and that and more. But, when you have, then what?
Are we even prepared for life after race? Do we have a timeline for which it all should occur? Have we constructed goals that might assist in our peacefully and respectfully being together? Who and how will we measure them? And how long should it take? How much time are we going to give ourselves to complete the task of reconciling?
My name indicates my position; stars shine above us. But, they are also out of reach, beyond us. I think that I have been gifted with a sense of sight that is above and more importantly beyond what is being said and seen about all of us in matter of race.
While writing, I am reading Howard Thurman’s seminal work The Inward Journey. Not surprisingly, I just read these words: “The life inherent is moving always toward goals and ends that are sensed only when realized. And beyond all these there may be a life of mankind which is more than individuals and groups but in which there is the built- in purpose, aim and goal.”
What I am seeking and what I will ultimately find is beyond me. It is the life of the Spirit, beyond earth, beyond flesh, beyond eyes and beyond our imaginations.
4 thoughts on “Beyond”
I just heard a guy on Pacifica Radio say today that we must relax in order to swim through fluid water. Water that can not be held on to, but water that will still support us if we move against it. If we stiffen up, we will drown. I guess what I’m trying to say is that race doesn’t have to be an ‘either or’, but rather a ‘both and’.
Thank you for this insightful reply, Glenn.
I just joined your blog yesterday, and reading through your many different posts is giving me goosebumps. I completely agree with you and want to share my story in hopes it will be an additional powerful example of why we should aspire to be post-racial for your readers. In 2010, I was one of 50 scholars from around the world selected to present at an international conference sponsored by the Oxford Press in honor of one of Ghana’s former presidents, Kwame Nkrumah, this experience and the events which followed changed my life.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, an influential Professor from Temple University who developed the first African American Studies Ph.D. Program in the United States told us that Muammar Gaddafi was the man to watch in Africa and said he had a plan to bring the continent together. Shortly after, Gaddafi was placed on the International Criminal Court’s most wanted list for crimes against humanity, captured and killed by a rebel militia. These events opened my eyes to some of the more complex issues surrounding diversity in America and across the globe. I began to wonder whether identity politics was really about bringing people together. A few months later, I was introduced to a Bollywood movie, which helped me answer that question.
The movie, which was called Patiala House examines race from the perspective of a young man named Gattu who grows up in an environment where prejudice is abundant. His father becomes a civil rights leader to fight the hatred and discrimination they face. Over the years, however race relations improve. Yet Gattu’s father still seems to be stuck in the past. With his family’s help Gattu realizes that his dad’s behavior is destructive and attempts to re-define himself. This movie helped me realize that being able to characterize ourselves as a post-racial society will require everyone to challenge the stereotypes we have about those whom we interact with on a daily basis, which is a much different approach than just blaming the usual suspects.
Thank you Starlette! It takes so much courage to do what you are doing, but in my heart and my spirit I truly believe you are doing the right thing! You are exemplary!!
Wow. What a testimony. Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers. I am so glad to be of service to you and appreciate your words of encouragement.