“I am beige, brown, black, red, yellow, white.” What do we mean when we define ourselves by the social coloring of skin? Because calling yourself a color will not answer who you are. And the social construct of race does not tell us who or why we are but what we are– colored people. More it than she and he.
Race is no creator, having no hand in our being but we turn to it for a sense of belonging. We reach out our hands but color does not connect us. Race has no power yet we yield to its influence, repeating after its prejudices and stereotypes. Surely, it cannot speak for us. So, why does it remain apart of the conversation?
Race does not know us. It does not actually identify us. Race cannot name us and it is not an attribute. The social construct of race is a system of privilege for some and oppression for others.
The attempt of race is not to identify us but to isolate us from each other. This is why we are grouped according to “colors.” All one in the same, bearing the same name: beige, brown, black, red, yellow, white. Boxed up and carted off to segregated communities.
And the meaning of race does not say much. According to race, we are the sum of our physical features, the social coloring of skin, the shape of our nose and eyes, the size of our lips. No soul or spirit here.
So, what do these social colors mean except the political and economic definitions we have assigned to them? More so, if we must define ourselves by oppressing, marginalizing and dehumanizing others, then what are we really saying? If in order for me to be beautiful, you have to be ugly? If we understand who we are by ignoring the existence of other cultures, then we have learned nothing at all. And what does this all really mean?
What have we been introduced to and what are we really saying about ourselves and each other? Do we even know? Worse still, do we want to know? James Baldwin said, “Someone once said to me that the people in general cannot bear very much reality. He meant by this that they prefer fantasy to a truthful recreation of their experience.” So, who are you really?
I assure you, race cannot answer this question.