Category Archives: Race and Predetermination

Acceptance

See the source image“Accept one another, then, just as Christ has accepted you.”

| Romans 15.7, NIV

Spawned by reports of the current American president’s remarks on immigration, which included speaking of Haiti and the entire continent of Africa (i.e. some 54 countries and two de facto territories) in terms unbecoming of a human being– much less a president, the national dialogue has returned to an old argument of race theory.  Race says where we are born determines our social value, that persons are inherently worthy or worthless based on their appearance.  It is a simplistic claim: goodness on location.  Acceptance based on appearance, this is as superficially good as it gets.

Incompatible with the unconditional love of God, “who so loved the world” and inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, still persons claim that the kingdom of God is “white” and is a single country- the United States.   Today, there are those who continue to believe that God sees the world through blue eyes.  They honestly think that God has goldilocks and only spends time with those people who are “just right.”  Clearly, they have their stories mixed up, adding in a bit of fairy tale into sacred writ.  It is obviously self- serving since only those socially colored white have the right to live happily ever after.

So proud is whiteness that it claims that God desires it, needs it, that God’s power is determined by it.  God must be white if God is to be accepted as all- powerful.

Made of earth, it has always struck me as odd that some dirt, some flesh, some people are perceived as inherently better.  “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”  Made by the same God, some persons are thought to be created “a little lower than” others.  Not surprisingly, the purpose aligns itself quite neatly with persons who espouse these views and their capitalist goals.  It also matches their will and supports the idea that they are God’s gift to the world.  Thanks but no thanks, Jesus.  What religion is this exactly?

Because the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be racialized. The kingdom of God is not segregated, color- coded, divided up into people groups.  And God is not a Person of color, the trinket of culture, to be accepted if the divine image matches our own.  God is good if God is with us– and not them.  No, God is Spirit and those who worship must worship spiritually and truthfully (John 4.24).  And the truth is, we are not accepted conditionally but gracefully.  “Accept one another, then, just as Christ has accepted you.”

The Separation of Race and Faith

Image result for draw a line

The social construct of race and its commandments are often used as supplemental material for the Bible.  Or, we take out the characters of the Bible altogether and insert our culture– but no one else’s.  God’s promises are for us and not them.  God is talking to us and not them.  The social construct of race empowers us to become replacement saviors and we step in as if Christ extended an invitation to us to fill his shoes.  Though often described as “the hands and feet of Christ,” there are no holes in either.

In fact, the social construct of race does not encourage us to open our hands to others but to walk in the opposite direction and self- segregate.  Our “color” made righteous, it is our skin that sets us apart.  The darkness reduced to flesh, we wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6.12).

For good or for ill, it is our race that gets the credit.  All glory belongs to socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white people.  It is an accepted and understandable heresy.  We excuse this form of idolatry because it is the worship of self.

Race and its progeny do not echo the words of Christ; it does not enable or enhance his ministry.  Race is not a messenger of the gospel; it is good news is for “me and mine.”  Race leaves the world out and makes our culture the world around which everyone else should revolve.  This is why it is important to declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ is race-less.

Race does not work for God but against our humanity.  The social construct of race was and is not a part of the plan of salvation for human beings.  Our “race” does not gain us access to God.  Our righteousness is not in the social coloring of flesh but in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Confessing a race says that we belong to a colored people but as Christians, we are the people of God.

So, what will it be?  You and I will need to separate race from our faith.  Made in the image of God, the social construct of race does not supplement our identity.  We cannot be a colored person and a child of God at the same time.  Because it was never about having the right skin but being in right relationship with God.  It was the blood of Christ not the skin of Christ that saved us.

It is our hands that have gotten in the way.  Consequently, our hands will need to do the separating.  Race or our Christian faith?  Choose this day which one you will serve.

 

We made the rules

images“History is made by those who break the rules.”

~ An author unknown

If you want to get me fired up, just start talking about how helpless we are in terms of race. If you want to get me energized, just start telling me what I can’t do because of racism, prejudice and stereotypes.  Start spouting off experiences and examples, facts, quotes and statistics that seek to attack my humanity, to limit the possibility of me, to prove that I don’t have a chance if race has a say and position me as an eternal victim of race.

If you are trying to give me a “reality check,” to put me in my social place, I assure you that it will have the opposite effect. Instead of cowering, bowing my head and surrendering to the oppressive reality of race, my chest will poke out.  Uh, uh.  Not here.  Not me.  Not ever.

While I agree that the social construct of race has power, that its presence is systemic, I do not believe that I, or any other human being, is powerless to change it.  I believe that we can change the system, destroy the system even because the operators are human.  And it just takes one person to not put on the uniform, to call in sick, to not stand in place, to not report for duty, to break the habit of prejudicial relationships, to challenge and question the authority of stereotypes, to take a stand and talk back to this history of hatred.

Our belief in race and participation in this social faith is mass- produced.  When we submit to race, we place our lives on a conveyor belt and our lives are boxed up according to its stereotypes.  But, this conveyor belt of uniformity can be stopped.  You and I can turn away from race and run in the opposite direction.  Our lives can cause a jam that will allow others to fall off and have a chance at authenticity and individuality.

We need only speak the truth and in so doing assert our position as a child of God: The only all- powerful being is God. Race is not all- powerful.  The only all- knowing being is God. Race cannot, does not and will never every know me deeply, fully or truly.  The only always present being is God.  We can rid ourselves of race.

We can stop.  We can say stop.  We can tell race, “You cannot go any further.  You do not run my life.”

The fact is this is our game.  We made the race cards.  We pass them out.  We play them.

We made the rules of race so we can break the rules of race, abolish them even.  We don’t have to hate or prejudge.  We don’t have to segregate ourselves.  We can love across cultures.

We can cross “the color line.”  We can erase it if we really wanted to.  It’s written in self- regulating pencil not stone.

We can share our power and resources.  We can stop cheating and stealing.  We can stop manipulating and dominating.  We can change the game.  It just takes one to say, “Let’s play something else.”

Turn off all stereotypes

“Have you ever wondered what educated black people like? Why do we like baked chicken?  Why do we love neo- soul?  Why do we rock patterned stockings?” a woman asks.  She then encourages viewers to discuss these topics with friends.  I was recently directed to a website called “Stuff Educated Black People Like.”   The list ranged from people to food and musical interests to fashion, television and political leaders, speaking of a monolithic, uniform and insular experience among persons who have a bachelor’s degree.  It is the site’s only entry.

What I don’t understand is why these stereotypes are acceptable and others are not.  Yes, I am familiar with the excuses that are given, that it is a privilege of those who belong to the group.  So, I can say something negative about socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people who are of this particular educational background because I am a member but you cannot.  But, what does this rationale say about you or me and how we feel about the group that we claim to belong to?  That we excuse black on black stereotypes?  How do such stereotypes benefit us?  What exactly is the purpose of this list or those that we have created about the groups to which we claim allegiance?

It offers no comedic relief and is certainly of no educational benefit.  What is the purpose of knowing what so- called “educated black people like”?  Is this list a means by which those who have a bachelor’s degree and identify themselves as socially colored black determine what she and he should like?  Are they to become the stereotype and if they like something that is not on the list are they no longer educated or “black”?

I believe that these stereotypes and others like them that seek to cover the life experiences, interests and abilities of entire people groups should be turned off.  These generalizations speak loudly within American culture, making it difficult to hear the still, small, new sound of life that is always attempting to speak within each of us.  I, for one, am tired of singing and hearing and buying into the same old song.  Shhhhhhh.

Almighty Color

There are those of us that would argue that money rules the world but I believe that money has a viable competitor: color. For many people, the social coloring of one’s skin determines whether or not you will carry the world on your shoulder or spin it on your finger like a Harlem Globetrotter. The social coloring of one’s skin, specifically whiteness as there are high and low colors that can make you or break you, predetermine your class and social status. Whiteness is the “silver spoon” of race. You must have enough of this “whiteness” to make it in American society, to be successful and it is perceived that if you have it, there are no limits to what you can do. Whiteness opens doors and affords us opportunities that we would not have otherwise had. And you either have it or you don’t; you’re either born into it or you’re not.

(Social) color motivates us; it drives us. We marry for (social) color. We go to war for (social) color. It is a pigment of our imagination that opens and closes our minds to the possibilities of what God has to offer. Color holds us in the palm of its hand and it can either elevate us or crush us. It all depends… on the social coloring our skin.

We have no say in what social color we will be. Race cannot be judged as graceless or biased. Its “thoughts are not our thoughts and its ways are not our ways.” It is simply the way of the world of race and unlike God, when it comes to race, we don’t question it. We are made in its image and for many, so is God. We have complete and unwavering faith in it for good or for ill. Why is that? It is because God has a competitor: race. Will it be hard for those who believe in the supremacy of color to perceive, to practice or to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19.16-28)? We have loved God; we have kept the commandments but some of us will find it hard to leave behind the gains of the social coloring of our skin. Is (social) color almighty in your life?