Persons are still dying due to racialized violence at the hands of police officers, a self- serving economy that spoon feeds the rich its profits, a deadly healthcare system that has a history of mistreating bodies socially colored black and brown in the name of scientific discovery, intentional segregation that ensures communities do not have access to the same opportunities, supports and services… among other things. This race work, which comes down to how we want to live in community, will never be easy. No book clubs. No anti-racism work group. No planned community service day. And no high- fives– ever again due to COVID-19.
No, it requires personal sacrifice. Put your neck on the line and some “skin in the game.” If we are to be reconciled to each other, then we must come home to our true selves, have a meeting with all of our selves, not just the polished, practical or political self. But the racist self, the colonizing, hateful and lawless self. We must acknowledge the one who wants to keep every thing to themself, who will not divest of an identity that exists only if it takes from everyone else. Yes, that one, the parasitic and sick one.
The white one and the black one and the red one and the yellow one and the beige one and the brown one too. Because they are not our real selves; instead, they are our representatives. They are an unhealthy substitute, prepackaged, assembly lined, mass- produced selves. They are the “grab and go” selves, when you don’t know who you are and aren’t sure of who you can be apart from race, that feeds you responses and gives you just the right amount of perspective to be dangerous to any attempts at community- building. You just pick it up, take on the identity and go with it.
These racialized identities are the ones American society expects to show up. But, we cannot keep lying to ourselves. We must start dying to these selves and cultivate identities that seek to share all things in common. Only then can we begin to hope and to work toward an anti- race life, laws and customs that do not color- code are existence together.
Because reconciliation is not about good feelings, of thinking happy thoughts, of fellowship meals and weekend retreats that end with intentionally diverse pictures, with the socially colored black and brown people up front and smiling. Say, “Cheese.” Instead, it begins with internal meetings with ourselves, vulnerable conversations with history and present memory and the faith that the identity we have in and through Jesus Christ is enough. Because simply hoping, crossing our fingers and our hearts, swearing that everything will somehow turn out right, without picking up our cross and dying to our self won’t make racism go away.