Why do I proclaim a raceless gospel when there is so much faith in race? Why do I scribble over words in books that color- code our shared humanity and repeat the appropriate cultural designations aloud? We are not black but African Americans. We are not white but European Americans. We are not yellow but Asian Americans. We are not red but indigenous people who live in what has been renamed the United States of America. We are not brown but Latino/a Americans (The racial category also includes Southeast Asian people, North African people and a few other cultural groups). We are not beige, the color chosen for those who are bi- cultural but we share in the diversity of our humanity and represent what it looks like when cultures come together. We are love bridges.
Because race will not tell me what I see or who I can see or how I must see others.
Because human beings are not colors, a collection of attributes and physical characteristics. Because race does not even come close to expressing who we are in the world and in relation to each other. Because race is not a witness to my human being or yours; it can never testify to seeing us. I may not be colorblind but I am certain that race is blind. Race captures what we feel about our flesh and its findings are literally superficial.
Race is not a hypothesis. It is an uneducated guess about our humanity as its creators had no idea what they were saying or how their words would be used hundreds of years later. And yet it is informed for the purposes of economic and political advantage. Persons who use the racial categories to their advantage, use it as a means of oppression, as a leg up and a foot down on those who would attempt to rise above the fray. Because who is willing to give up their privilege, their head start, to reject the title of whiteness? Because we are not really taking away whiteness but social benefits, immunities and protections that go ahead of us, clear the way for us.
Because race is about competition and calling persons black slows us down. Persons who are socially colored black are deemed lazy. They cannot keep up and yet their ancestors built up this nation. It doesn’t make sense. One should cancel out the other and yet, we choose one over the other. Because it serves us well and serves us best to think of another as less than us. Because race is about pride, our insecurities and wanting to be so much more than human. So rather than work hard, we think the worst of others to make ourselves feel better: lazy.
Laziness is a stereotype, a rock in the shoes of those who would attempt to make strides, who would try to cross the color line. This is why it hurts when they have to “jump higher and run faster” than their counterparts. Because they don’t have to deal with a word that is meant to trip them up and tie their tongue. Because it is hard to say anything good about being black, which is why some persons talk white.
This need to be white is a mental transformation, a metamorphosis, a conversion of sorts. Race has a life of its own, separate and apart from who we are and were meant to be. Race is another story, a smaller narrative and a diversion. It is not the way, the truth or the life (John 14.6).
Because the creature- created and run racial identities have no spiritual benefits and no eternal value. Instead, the sociopolitical and economic construct of race is a kind of currency. Our belief in race continues the need for this skin trade. Nearly four hundred years later with the approaching anniversary of the first Africans enslaved and brought to the Virginia shores, we are still in bondage. Tongue tied to race are most of us and me to the raceless gospel.