You’ve got time for this class and it is brought to you by Jenée Desmond Harris. It is a lesson that must be learned and that bears repeating. Harris starts from the beginning of race and no, she does not begin in the book of Genesis. Lie #1 struck down. Race is not that old.
Race is a lot of things but biological, biblical or original to our being are not to be included. Still, the misrepresentation of who we are continues and so does the cycle of hatred. Race wars are plotted against places of worship for African Americans and Jews. Protests seem unending, CNN describing last year as “a year of outrage.” The hashtag Black Lives Matter has become a movement. Right now, the University of Missouri has been added to the list and to the ongoing conversation on race after accusations of racism on campus. Consequently, this class is always in session.
And while it won’t lead to an advanced degree, these truths concerning race as a social construct are certain to advance our understandings of self and our neighbor. I’ve devoted my life to teaching about race and to the eradication of the racial category for human identity. Week after week, I look for ways to say this because it is so much easier and less painful to accept this superficial existence. I want us to go deeper and pray that this video and my words would peel away another layer of race’s deceptions.
Why is race here? Why do we continue to allow it to be the cornerstone of our identity, investing who we are and will be into this social category, placing our children in its boxes? What gives it membership and belonging? Why does race have such power over us and presence within our society?
Persons have tried to explain the existence of race over time through science, Scripture and skin; but the truth is that we made it up. Most scholars agree that race is a “folk idea” and a recent invention. No, race is not biological or biblical. We are not born racial beings and race was not in the beginning with God. Race is a social construct.
Race is a product of our thoughts; it’s origin is our mind. Race is here because of the way that we choose to think of human beings from other cultures. Race is here by the invitation of our imagination. We need only change our minds and race will disappear. So, why is race (still) here?
I wish that I had the time to share all that I read and learn with you, all of the stories– historical narratives and personal testimonies alike. I wish that you would be fully persuaded that God does not love you like race does or as race says. Perhaps, this would aid in your understanding my conclusions regarding race. Nevertheless, I depend on the spirit of Christ within you to move you to this race- less faith. If you believe that the spirit of Christ does not work in such matters, then maybe this article might move you closer to my side.
Often persons speak about the biological reality of race as if the physical reality of the social coloring of skin somehow means that race is real. But, while the social coloring of skin is real, the reality of race is socially constructed. The values that we assess and the judgments that we make are all our own. Our skin does not come with a key or a legend or a hierarchal ladder to determine its meaning and measure. It’s all make believe.
The article that I alluded to earlier was featured in The Atlantic and says, “Genes Don’t Cause Racial- Health Disparities, Society Does.” Billions of dollars in research and the findings were nonexistent. There’s nothing there. I have spent years reading and researching race and let me save you the trouble, stop looking at your skin as if it is a problem or a solution. There’s nothing there.
Evolutionary geneticist, Dr. Richard Lewontin, speaks at the Hitchcock Lectures at UC Berkely on race and genetics, the effects of migration, invasion, conquest and subsequent rape. He asserts that race is a “social reality” but not a biological reality, that there is no single gene that differentiates one so- called race from another. Lewontin says, “We don’t know of any gene that is race- distinguishing.” He also demonstrates the difficulty of assigning persons to races due to language and migration. It is a brilliant presentation.