“If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.”
| Ludwig Wittgenstein
Most persons feel compelled to answer to race and to question those who don’t. “Who does race say that you are?” Skin deep, the epitome of superficial meaning, we speak as if its value is apparent, a parent and second creator. It is a rebirth, a remaking, a new creation made in the image of whiteness.
A social righteousness, we pray, “Make my skin light, lighter, lightest of all. Amen.” We baptize our skin in bleach, hoping that chemicals will straighten out the tangled mess our hair has made, that our noses won’t get in the way, that our big mouths won’t get us into trouble. We wrestle with flesh and blood in hopes of being pinned with this prized social perfection.
Blue ribbon skin. Trophy flesh. First place in the race contest. It is faith in skin filled in, in skin that fills in for our faith.
We believe that race makes us or breaks us, that it all comes down to our physical appearance. We talk of race as if it is the only way in which we fully identify, that we cease to exist without these colored words, that our flesh fails us unless it is colored in. In race, “we live, move and have our being.”
We behave like we all fit into these boxes, that everyone has to go into one of them: beige, brown, black, red, yellow or white. Get in. Squeeze in. We’ve all got to fit in. And we say this while espousing the belief that we are buried with Christ.
Still, race gets up and in our faces. We cannot look away. Picking at our flesh, we feel that this is real. We open our mouths to answer to it.
But, why? Instead, question it. Race does not tell you who you are and if it does, you should wonder why. I mean have you ever met Race? The relationship is superficial; it only knows your skin. You don’t have to let it in.
Instead, leave it on the outside of you. Peek through and ask, “Race, who?”