“We must constantly and critically explain the purpose, perversity and persistence of race as a relatively new category in modern history if we are to address racism effectively.”
~ David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon
I am reminded often of the importance of this daily call to discipleship with Christ and apart from the social construct of race. I understand that it is an emotional and deeply personal journey with mirrors at seemingly every turn. Even when we look away and try to focus on something else, we still must face ourselves. In America, we must ask, “How do I see the social construct of race and how does race influence the way that I see others?”
It is important for persons who are seeking fullness in Christ to begin to talk not about what race has done to us but what race is doing through us. If we are to be the body of Christ, then a complete and thorough examination of the impact of its racialization and subsequent segregation is imperative. We must move the conversation inward, no longer pointing fingers but looking at our own hands.
It is safe to talk about race as a historical reality. It allows us to put distance between us and to keep the problem and the solution in the past. But, race is not an old problem, which strips us of the excuse that it is complicated and the belief that it will always be with us.
If we have lived without the social construct of race before, we can live without it again. Race is a new problem; human beings have been around longer. So, we must stop talking about race and the ways that it has used us because we have employed it as a personal reference.
This is the nature of this soul journey toward freedom from race. It is the clear understanding that it is everywhere and always near, that it grossly distorts our self- image while holding itself up as a mirror, that it will attempt to get ahead of us if we don’t keep up the pace. We must put race in its place– behind us and never in front of our shared humanity.