Tag Archives: post- racial America

When Race Was Relevant

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Relevant, adj.

1. closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand

Race is not timeless.  It is not a classic.  It will go out of style just as soon as we, humans, stop fashioning ourselves according to the social coloring of skin.

We call ourselves progressive but can’t believe that we will ever get beyond race.  I wonder, then,  how progressive are we really?  What are we progressing toward if we cannot live past race and its progeny?

We call ourselves post- modern but wouldn’t dare describe our time as post- racial.  But, race is not a modern conception.  It is not new and shiny, not the latest and greatest invention.

Instead, we give our new lives, our new time, our new human beings, that is babies, to race.  We make race timeless, classic, current fashion for human beings because all those that preceded her and him wore race and swore by its prejudices and stereotypes.

Race is repositioned in our lives and in the lives of generations to come when we change what we say with our mouths.  We must begin to speak of it in the past tense.  This is how we put race behind us and in its rightful place.  We  strip it of its power with our tongues.

We give it new life with our words.  Now, let’s talk about its death.  Let’s talk about race as “once upon a time” instead of for all of time.  Let’s frame our conversations and the lives to come with sentences that begin with: “When race was relevant…”

Post- Racial America: Why We Can’t Get Past Race

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There aren’t many fans of the word post- racial.  It seems utopian for some, unrealistic for others.  And from what I hear and read, it seems almost mythical.  It’s magic talk and there isn’t a huge market for this fairy dust.  We just cannot even imagine the characters for such a story.  Because exactly what would we call ourselves?  Perhaps, human beings would be a good fit.

We say that we want out of race but we don’t want to hear about race.  We say that we’re tired of the fruit of race but that doesn’t stop up from sowing the seeds of history.  We keep watering our present with the same stereotypes and prejudices.

We keep talking about race the same way: omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.  The change comes when we realize that we empower race and we can strip it of its power.  We carry race; it stops moving from place to place, person to person and conversation to conversation when we put it down, when we let it go, when we no longer allow it it to travel with us.  And race only knows what we tell it; race simply says what we believe about others– sight unseen.

We must begin to say more about the word’s limitations and restrictions.  We must begin to criticize race and its progeny.  And it begins with an evaluation of race but we must begin to supervise it.  We live as its employees but we need to reverse the role.  This is the only way to rid ourselves of it, to rise above it and to make race past tense.  We must entertain the possibility and not dismiss conversations that race can be moved, demoted and cast out of our cities, our communities, our churches, our houses, our mouths.  It’s life and death are in our mouths (cf. Proverb 18.21).

We cannot get past race because we believe that:

1.  Race is in front of us.  We must realize that when we agree to live by this social construct that we put ourselves in second place.  We accept that we are second- class citizens and second guess who we are, believing that that we get no second chances because of stereotypes and prejudices.

2.  Our social history will always be our present.  We must begin to live in the light of God’s eternity not the temporality of this life.  Just like our material possessions, we cannot take race with us when we die so why hold on to it so tightly while we live.

3.  We believe in its color- coded adjectives and have come to trust them more than any other word, even God’s.  We believe that we are socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige and we just can’t see anything else.  So strong is the vision, so attached to the reality are we that letting go would be like losing ourselves.  We believe that we are nothing more than a color and if it is taken away, then we cease to exist.

But, we are not a color and people don’t come in colors like some packaged deal or social product.  We are children of God.  We are spirit, apart of Spirit and will live beyond our flesh and its social colors.  The adjective that I would use is eternal.

4.  We are more carnal than we realize or want to accept.  Race makes us comfortable judging, walking, living in the flesh rather than the Spirit.  But, the post- racial life is a call to walk after the Spirit, to no longer walk according to the flesh, to live by and based on our skin (cf. Romans 8.5).

Trust what I’m saying to you.  Accept the possibility of a race-less life.  Take my hand and let’s walk right past race.

Post- Racial America: Why It’s So Hard To Say

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Post- racial.  Post- racial?  Are you serious?  Is it really possible to put race behind us?  Just how is that going to happen?

We shake our heads and shoo away the thought.  I cannot say what I cannot see and have you seen the news lately?  Do you know our history?  I do not see how that is going to happen so let’s not even entertain the conversation.

Too often we cannot believe the word of God because of our reality.  We do not believe  “Christ is greater in us than the Devil or race that is in the world” (First John 4.4).  We do not believe Christ is stronger spiritually or vocally and we act as if we cannot hear him during conversations that involve race.  I would disagree, asserting that it is us who do not “have an ear to hear” (Matthew 11.15).  And faith comes not by seeing but “by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10.17).

And I have heard the word: post- racial.  It is ringing in my ears.  He said to me like Isaiah, “And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it'” (30.21).  If you are following Christ, then race is already behind you.  You just have to accept the liberty of His words and walk in them.

But, more often than not, we do not consider race based on our faith.  We do not speak of our faith as if it is more powerful or has the final say.  Instead, we allow race to talk over our faith and cause us to doubt God’s promises.  When we hear challenging words like post- racial, we say things like:

“It takes too long.”   And it’s true.  This work takes patience not in a process but ourselves.  Change is hard but it is even harder when we think that the problem is systems or societies.  We create the systems and we make up the societies; consequently, the change begins when we do.

Moving from a hyper- racialized to a post- racial society will not be a quick fix but will require not hours, months or even years of conversation.  It will require lifetimes, generations committed to de-racializing our lives, our beliefs and speech, our perception and perspective, our habits and traditions. We will have to talk about race and its progeny for the rest of our lives in order to rid our hearts, minds and souls of its presence.

But, the conversation must address race as the problem with humanity as opposed to particular cultures of humanity as the race problem. We must all come over to the same side, erasing the color line and its boundaries.

“But, it’s scary.”  Yes, this move takes guts.  We don’t know how to live without race. We’ve never had too so why try?  It is hurting us and our relationships with others. But, it’s all we’ve got, right? Wrong.

We have been so conditioned to believe that exists that we are afraid that nothing can exist without or apart from it. We live as if race is the source of our existence and believe that if we stop using it, we will disappear. We have become more invested in the social coloring of skin than our actual person. We are more socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige than human. We know more about how to act and react as a racial person than as a human being.

“But, it’s unfamiliar.  It’s all I know.”  It is regrettable that we know so much about race and not much about ourselves.  We know how to react according to race but not based on our own beliefs and convictions.  We must be true to Christ alone as race and Christ have no relationship with one another.

The word post- racial does not come with a three- point plan or a twelve- step process. It doesn’t come with a group of supporters. But, we will have to make this journey alone at first. We must first say the word and allow the word to do its work within us.

There are no maps or keys because the course has not been charted. We are so afraid of its existence that we have not ventured to see if it does exist, afraid to take a single step away from race.

Due to our unfamiliarity, it will take a lot of faith.  This is not an easy thing to say or believe.  We don’t yet know what words go with it.  We cannot yet comprehend the benefits of saying it, of living it?  Still, we will have to take this trip with Christ one step at a time and we’re not the lead.

Our ability to say, “Post- Racial America” might start with the words post- racial me and post- racial Christ.  Perhaps, it is hard to say because we do not fully understand that Christ is the Word and that He should make words like race tremble and others like post- racial triumph on our lips.

If we are to be post- racial

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”

~ Ephesians 2.14, NRSV

There are those who say that it is impossible to put race behind us, that there is “No Such Place as ‘Post- Racial’ America”, that we cannot live with each other without pre-judging, discriminating and showing preference to those whose physical appearance we like.  Such a simplistic explanation of our practice of racism points to how simple, superficial and silly it really is.  Race has nothing to do with how we look but it an excuse for treating persons the way that we feel that they deserve to be treated and we will employ anything, human and/ or divine, to make our point.

And so long has the idea been with us that we have made it our identity.  We have become racialized human beings.  We have empowered our skin to rule over us and to be ruled over by others.  Race is apart of who we are and how we live.  It is no wonder why we believe that we cannot live without it, that we cannot imagine a life after race.  But, what about life before it?

As Christians, we are not a people without hope.  We have a Savior, whose power extends to that of race and any other social construct and can even move us beyond it.  Jesus Christ is unique, not only in that he is the image of the invisible God and that he rose from the dead but that he is the embodiment of our peace.  He is also the great Mediator, bringing people who were opposed to each other together.  But, this should come as no surprise because he called us friends though we were once his enemies (Colossians 1.21).

Despite the ways of American society, we are a post- racial people, post- racial Christians because we serve a pre- racial God.  We bear the image of God and it’s not colored (in).  I suppose that this post should have been titled when as opposed to if we are to be post- racial because it is only a matter of time.  Race will not be with us forever.

So, when we become post- racial, we will:

1.  Stop believing in race and start believing in God.

2.  Choose the image of God over the image(s) of race.

3.  Stop practicing/ justifying/ legalizing/ teaching racism.  Don’t pass it on or pass it down.

4.  Take responsibility for our racist beliefs and actively rid ourselves of them.

5. Not be led by stereotypes and instead, be led by the Holy Spirit.

6. Not be counseled by prejudice.  Allow the word of God to be your counselor.

7. End restrictive covenants.  Choose people over profits.

8.  Have more than one socially colored white/ black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige friend.

9. Stop talking about colors and start talking about people and their cultures.

10.  Stop having more faith in history and begin trusting in the newness and possibility of the future.