When you don’t know what to say about race but you need to talk about it

“I don’t give a fuck about white people.”  My best friend Paula is writing a paper on race and she doesn’t know what to talk about.  She doesn’t think that she has anything to say about it.  “Race is your thing—not mine.  Why would give God me this title? Can’t I just write about prayer?” 

We have had multiple conversations on the subject.  She has an amazing title for the paper but no paragraphs. The deadline for the paper has been extended again and she is still at the end of her rope, which is now threadbare.  She is unraveling and the aim of the paper is coming undone.  It has gotten away from her.

She has been called to Christian ministry and is trying adamantly to ignore the voice of God.  It’s closer now and she continues to back away.  But now she doesn’t know where the voice is coming from.  

She can hear God’s voice in her own.  She can hear God’s voice in parts of our conversations.  She can make out the voice of God in pieces of past memories.  God was speaking to her then and God is speaking to her now.  She thinks that she can ignore it.  

Here’s a tip: It doesn’t work.  God keeps speaking.  God is still speaking.  Omnipresent, God doesn’t go away.

She is biting her nails and I am biting my lip—because I know where this is going.  She will end up in the same place.  I am already there.  Because God doesn’t budge on this.

So, we talk it through.  

I say to her, “Let’s go back to the beginning.  Tell me about race.  What is your understanding of it?  Who introduced you to it?”   

She responds, “I don’t know anything about race.  Race is your thing—not mine.”  And then these colorful words come forward.

“I don’t give a fuck about white people.”  I didn’t say it and she didn’t either.  It was her dad, Houston.  If the language offends you, then blame her dad.  He said it.

They’re Houston’s words—not mine or hers.  It’s his thing.  His words are direct and matter of fact.   He doesn’t care about them and he is clear about that.

For me, his words are militant.  I see them in leather and with a fist raised in the air.  The words are strong and unapologetic, rooted in an understanding of self that pushes back on society’s definitions and conclusions.  They are words of protest.  They “shall not be moved.”  They aren’t going anywhere and there is no getting around them.

He doesn’t care.  He has no interest in socially colored white people.  They do not make his world go ‘round and they won’t have his children’s heads spinning.  We are both quiet and writing now, thinking through our storied lives with race.  I hope you are too. 

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Seeking to lead words and people to their highest and most authentic expression, I am the principal architect of a race/less world.

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