Tag Archives: race-less language

The Words That Use Us

power-of-words-1“We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and they end up using us.”

These are the words of well- known pastor and translator of The Message, Rev. Eugene Peterson.  It is a fair warning though not considered frequently enough.  I use to pride myself on the number of words that I could type in a minute.  Who knows what the count is for many of us these days with tweets, blogs and minute- by- minute Facebook updates.   There is no end to our words.

Isn’t it ironic that we seem to be saying more than ever but that our communication is greatly reduced and has not improved in meaning or depth?  In fact, we are not saying much that is new; instead, we are finding new says to say the same old, same old.  In some cases, this is good; with regard to relationships across cultures and matters of race, it has been tongue- tying.

Now more than ever, I am becoming increasingly aware that our world is made up of words.  It is an old and obvious truth, recorded in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis.  It is the record of the speaking God, who used words to create, who left unsaid nothing beautiful or majestic.  I have read it numerous times but my consciousness was dim to the fullness of this reality.

Of course, as Christians, we believe in the God who is the Word made flesh (John 1.14).  In some measured sense, I understand this but certainly not fully intellectually and theologically.  I believe that we are people who live by words and that we are walking words, that our names have power and can purpose our lives for good or ill.  And with the recurrent violence that everyone is talking about, the power of the words we use is increasingly more evident.

Thanks to social media, we share what we feel and how we are doing at lightning speed.  We have so much to say about ourselves and others.  I wonder what this says about the value of our words when we don’t keep some of them to ourselves or save some for later.  To be sure, words are powerful.  They have caused wars, deaths incalculable and tragedies unthinkable.  We learn more quickly of embarrassing moments and the missteps of those who wish that there was a rock that they could hide under that didn’t have Wi-Fi.

What is the matter when we continue to speak words that hurt us and clearer still, that silence us and keep us from seeing ourselves?  What is wrong with our speaking when we lose our voice and become a puppet of the very words we speak, when our tongue becomes the strings pulled?  I believe this to be so when it comes to race.

We started using these words hundreds of years ago against others and for our benefit.  Now, they don’t benefit any of us.  We have lost the meaning of ourselves with their use.  So, what do we say now?  What do we do now that we are employed by race, now that race has our tongue?

I say we quit, that we stop speaking of our humanity on these terms.  What say you?

Happy anniversary to me!

imagesToday marks two years since I began The Daily Race.  While I wasn’t sure of what my writings would amount to or even what I was attempting to articulate initially, I am so glad that I decided to begin this journey.  It was certainly a relief to say what I had been thinking for so long: I am not black.  I sometimes can’t believe that I had the courage to say it: I don’t believe in race/ God is not colored/ Black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people don’t exist but are a creation of our social imaginations.  I am able to say that I didn’t allow race to get the best of me or my relationship with God and others, that I talked back to race and its progeny, that I did not live my life as its victim or a perpetrator of its hate, that I fought a good fight for my faith.

The Daily Race has become my sacred space and a safe place to share my ideas regarding race and the race-less life.  It is my “own little world” where I can live by the laws that I create: No racial caricatures permitted/ No racial slurs allowed/ No socially colored- coded language accepted.  I thank God for the thought and with it, the courage to take my faith back from race.  I am grateful for the opportunity to write about my convictions regarding race.

I didn’t have to wait for someone to listen or to agree or to understand; I needed only to begin talking to myself.  I just couldn’t hold it in and once I began writing about the race-less life, I couldn’t hold back.  But, I thought that once I said it that that would be enough; instead, my passion has only grown stronger.  Now, I have to say it any chance that I get: a race-less life is a Christ- filled life.

Two years later, I am in a deeper and more committed relationship with Christ as each word puts more distance between me and race.  My spiritual identity, the mind of Christ and my position in Christ have all been strengthened because of my commitment to detach my faith from this social construct.  Removing race from my faith has also allowed me to see myself, God and others not as the “other”/ “Other”; this has brought me closer to each and the possibility of healthy relationships seem inevitable.

I am looking forward to the years to come and all of the good things that a race-less life brings.  Since I began writing this blog, I have led a race-less life retreat, written and delivered a paper “A New Kind of Christianity: What Christ has already done about race” at the Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity conference held in D.C. last May, the blog has been featured on the Associated Baptist Press and Ethics Daily websites and I recently completed a chapter on the race-less gospel of Jesus Christ to be included in a book soon to be released.  For this, I give God all the glory, honor and praise.

It is my prayer that others would find the words and the courage to fight for their faith and not live another day with race.  Join me in living the race-less life at The Daily Race.