Tag Archives: race-less humanity

A Prayer to the Peerless God

See the source imageThis morning, I was afforded the opportunity to provide a prayer for a gathering of faith leaders from Washington, D.C.  We were all invited by current Mayor Bowser and former mayor Anthony Williams.  We joined together in celebration of African American history and heritage as well as to reflect on the strides that this community has made against all odds.  I offered this prayer to attendees:

Peerless God, who is in all and through all and yet, above us all, still You do not look down Your nose to judge whose better or worse.  For better or for worse, You take us all.  Because You created us wonderfully and fearfully, beautifully and equally, intentionally differently, each uniquely Your vision.  You are the familiar in each of our faces.  You created a family— not a bunch of races.

Forgive us for color- coding Your image, painting You into a corner, pushing You to choose sides.  Because You are either with us or them.  Omnipresent, we manage to put You in the middle.

Yes, God, “choose this day whom You will serve.”

Forgive us for appropriating Your power, masquerading in divinity;

The Word made beige, black, brown, red, yellow and white.

Forgive us for our hubris, for subjecting the Imago Dei to our ego, for making You a little lower than us.

Still, You love us all and You love us well, better than we love ourselves, our neighbor, the stranger and the immigrant.  Clearly, You see and sup with those who sacrifice, who rub nickels together and start fires of entrepreneurship, which keeps the family going, keeps the community growing, and spins this cycle of reaping and sowing.

You are the strength of those who built up a land and pulled up a people with calloused hands, with lacerated backs carried cotton and babies, whose voice was not taken, still telling their story and singing our song with voices not shaken, “Swing low, sweet chariot,” who saw a vision through sunset eyes.  Still, they rise again and again.  Because joy comes in the morning.

So, we have gathered to applaud Your work—because You have been with us through it all.  Valleys and mountains, from living water to colored fountains, we taste and still see that the Lord is good.[1]  Because a resurrected people cannot be kept down for long.  Now, help us to live up to all that You see in us.  No competition, one people, one vision.

In the name of the one who raised me up, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

__________________

[1] Psalm 34.8

Only Human

Image result for only human imageIt seems that we are not satisfied with our humanity, that there is always a need to be something more than human, super human, a special set of humans.  In our quest, we often attempt to reduce the value and visibility of others.  Because we cannot be more human unless we make others less human.  We get our power by taking theirs away.  And there’s really nothing super or special about that.

Instead, it is an expression of pride and selfishness.  It is childish to believe that we are the only ones that should be seen, that everyone else is in the way, that the whole earth is mine and I don’t have to share, that I am God’s only child.

It is a strange desire that we would want to be something more than those around us, that we would create categories of exclusion that would make us less common or ordinary.  It is an awkward expression of our humanity: creating differences, hoarding the earth, making up problems, burning bridges, segregating ourselves, cheating some to enrich the lives of others.  Still, we cannot get away from the truth that we are all the same.

For all of our attempts at creating differences and maintaining them, we are all obviously, plainly, nothing more than human.  No matter what we attach to or associate with ourselves, Paul was right, “There is only one flesh for human beings” (First Corinthians 15.39).  Despite the claims of the social construct of race, we are only human and always family.

 

 

All

inyourhead_1024Many shapes and colors, with and without sight, open and closed, rolling and blinking, itching and red, crying and dry but they are all eyes.  We are all seeing the same things.

Many forms and sizes, with and without pimples, hair or mucus inside them still they are all noses.  We are all breathing the same air.

Many textures but all toppings, various styles– some trendy others traditional, coming in shades of black, blonde, brown, red and gray yet they are all hair.  We are all combing and cutting the same thing.

Many children, adults and elders, with cradles and canes but we are all human beings.  We have but two configurations, two kinds.  We are a pair, a set: male and female.  We are all having the same experiences.

We are all one image.  We are all.  We are apart of the All.  Now if all of us could only see it.

Before you were formed

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“Before I formed you  in the womb I knew you…”

~ Jeremiah 1.5, NRSV

I had a rigorous and thought- provoking conversation with a friend and mentor in ministry yesterday.  Over a couple of Peruvian dishes, we debated our positions on race.  But, after awhile, I decided to just listen and when I did, I really heard him.  He saw no real problem with race, loved being a member of  one and thought that if I were successful at ridding the world of race, we, humans, would just find another way to categorize ourselves.  Race was just a scapegoat that we were using to sin.  It’s a good point, an interesting perspective and not one that I haven’t heard before.

But, he also said some other things that got me to thinking.  He said that God saw me as a racial person, that God would use me based on my social position in a racial category, that God even asked persons of particular races to forgive, for example, more than others because of their social position.  He, of course, equated race with gender, that God saw me as black like God saw me as a woman.  I disagree with all of the above.

Why I disagree is as simple as the scripture mentioned above.  God knew me before.  That’s what the prophet Jeremiah says when sharing his call narrative.

Before my parents or their parents or their parents were born, God knew me.  Before my parents met or their first date, before generational blessings and curses, before my time and their history, God knew me.  God knew me before the positive pregnancy test and the sonogram, before I had a first or last name, before weight and measurements were taken, before I was placed in my mother’s arms or cuddled by my father.  God knew me before I had my father’s strong work ethic or my mother’s eyes, before fingers or toes could be counted, before a gender could be determined or a racial category assigned.  I am pre- racial.

And God did the forming.  So, God was even before sperm met egg.  My parents’ genetic codes did not even determine who I would become.  This is how God can gift us in ways that do not fit our upbringing, that do not match our cultural exposure, that go against our experiences.  Because there is an Image that is far greater, that must be impressed upon us before any other.

This is why God knows us so well.  This is why God’s knowing of us surpasses our economic, physical, political and social conditions.  It is because God knew us before and if God knew us before, then God is certainly more equipped to tell us what we will be once we are born.

I would never give the social construct of race and its stereotypes such credit.  They don’t know me so well.

There is not one race

“From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…”

~ The Acts of the Apostles 17.26, NRSV

“There is only one race: the human race.”  The thought has been attributed to several people so I deduce that the author is unknown (at least to me).  Still, the sentiment is repeated for reasons as numerous as the persons attributed to the expression.  I guess that its credibility is proven not by who said it but by often it is said.

Partly as a compromise, persons began saying that there is but one race: the human race. Attempting to reduce the number of socially colored categories or race clicks and arguments for cultural supremacy, all of humanity was put into one race.  But, this does not rid us of the idea.

It it an attempt at solving the race problem while maintaining the concept of race.  The statement does not challenge the idea or unpack its meaning.  It just lumps us together without really explaining what “the human race” is.

Why are we one race and what is human about being a race?  If there are no biological or biblical races, then how can we be one race as human beings?  What purpose does this larger and broader category serve?  For me, the statement does not resolve the race questions, solve the race problem or provide any deeper meaning for its continued use.

So, I have my own statement: There are no races, only humans.  Quote me.

P.S. While researching the idea, I discovered a manifesto by anti-racist scientists.