Tag Archives: race-less life

The Truth You Already Know

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Let me begin by saying that this is not a suggestion or even advice.  I am only going to write the obvious truth that we choose to ignore.  We really do know better.

And while our reasons vary as to why we continue to lift up the social construct of race as a source of identity and understanding of our differences, there is no denying it through Scripture or science that race is not real.  Instead, it is a figment of our imagination.  But, we already know this.

We also know that we are not beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white people.  What we have to find out is why we feel the need to identify with the social coloring of skin and not our Creator.  Why are we more comfortable being a white person than one of God’s people?  Why do we feel the need to compare, to size up and sort when we know that our humanity is one size fits all?

We know that there is no human race, that there are only human beings, that the belief that some are superior is the stuff of science fiction novels. God does not make scrap people but always creates with and for a purpose.  We have created these categories to make ourselves appear better.  But, we already know this.

We use prejudice as a barrier to forming new relationships and to avoid seeing people altogether.  It is prideful to suggest that some people are worth seeing while others are not, that some people should be in the center and others kicked to the margins.  But, we already know this.

We use stereotypes to avoid the painstaking and personal process of thinking of people as individuals and not lumping them into groups.  It feeds the illusion of omniscience as we don’t really know how all those people are.  But, we already know this.

So, if we know so much, then why is there no change in our thinking? I believe it because we have not even begun to learn who we are.

Talking Race and Relationships: Deepening the Conversation

race080818_5_560“Hi.  I’m white.  You’re black.  Let’s be friends.”  This kind of introduction is too simple and superficial.  It’s also not realistic.

Relationships that begin or are connected to one’s racial identity will ultimately lack true feeling and are not rooted in reality but stuck in social temperatures that could go up or down, depending on the news cycle and the political season.  Getting to know someone on the basis of the social coloring of skin begins the relationship in stereotypes and low expectations, in fear, bias and inauthenticity.  (Note: We do not enter into relationships, establish friendships in order to appear “progressive” or to meet some type of social quota.)

race080818_4_560Race also rules the relationship and becomes a kind of third wheel, apart of all meetings.  We either talk about it all the time, whether through passive- aggressive comedy or debate or awkwardly avoid any mention of it.  It is a lingering threat that reminds us that we are never safe, that there is always the possibility for our relationship to be ruined by it.  And this must be said.

Deepening our conversations will require us disclosing our fears about race.  This is not to be confused with our feelings about each other.  As people are not races but human beings.

We must get it out.  Talk it out, these things that race has done to us.  We must attach feeling words to our experience of race: “Race makes me feel…

Secondly, we must give up control of how the conversation will go.  We must see each other not only as equals but as persons in the same position: friends.  We will need to rid ourselves of the roles of master and slave, dominant and subservient, oppressor and oppressed.

How do we do this?  We will our selves to.  We make ourselves do it.  It’s not easy and that’s why we must.  Because this work is not easy.  There are no easy ways in or out of the racialized life.  There are no shortcuts to reconciliation, no city dumping ground for its baggage.

This loss of control extends to the opportunities, options and outcomes of the conversation.  We don’t possess each other and we don’t own the conversation.  So, we might not get the first word or the final say.  And it may not go our way.

Acceptance is a really deep part of this dialogue and much of it will be about accepting what we have said and what those words have empowered us, for good or for ill, to do to ourselves and others.  Our relationships will change once we decide to challenge our relationship with race.  When we move beyond the superficiality of skin, then we will be able to relate to each other as kin.

I challenge you to go deeper.

Beyond Prejudice

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I often look for resources to share that might assist us in our journey toward understanding ourselves apart from the social construct of race.  Deconstructing this identity is more complicated than the “peeling back the layers.”  It is deeply imbedded in who we are and believe others to be.

The paradigm of race must be addressed from all angles and sides.  We must answer every question and remove it as a potential answer to our being together.  One area that must be addressed daily are our prejudices.

Beyond Prejudice is a website that seeks to assist us in examining and ridding ourselves of these preconceived, ill- informed and one view fits all people perspective.  They offer numerous tools and resources for assessing and reducing our prejudices.  The creators of the site had this to say about prejudice:

“Prejudices exist. It is an undeniable force within our society, so prevalent that it can be found within the most open-minded people and enlightened organizations, subtly taking its toll despite the best of intentions.

To recognize the insidious and pervasive power of prejudice is to take the first step toward defeating it. Assigning blame or guilt, however, will often yield avoidance, denial, and defensiveness. Understanding that prejudicial thinking can be greatly diminished through commitment and education will bring people together to successfully solve this shared problem. It is toward this end that Beyond Prejudices is committed.”

If you want to see beyond race to who you really are, then look in this direction.

Identity Forward

forward-logoThere are those we describe as fashion- forward.  They don’t wear what is popular but determine the trend and set the tone for a season or years to come.  They are ahead of their time, wearing what will become fashionable.  They open our eyes to the possibility to what we can wear and look like.  They change our appearance.

They don’t stick to what is comfortable or predictable, easy and acceptable.  They don’t choose what is accessible.  But, they look at the choices and decide to create what they want to wear.  They create a wardrobe for one and fit the style for themselves.

Well, I would describe myself as identity- forward.  The term does not exist; I made it up.  And this is what persons who create must do.  We have to create what is not, what will be if someone would have the courage to think, believe and say it.

Like designers who create from what is not, who pull from their imaginations, I have looked at what society has to offer and decided against being cut from the same cloth.  I am choosing to not get behind the color line and not even to get ahead of it.

I want to erase it.  I see another way of being and it fits me better.  Post- racial comes in all sizes and for all shapes.  Orders are welcome.

 

Bigger Words

4485212670_692de0d90a“…as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)– in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” ~ Romans 4.17, NRSV

Paul is writing about Abraham, the father of our faith and likewise, the ability of our Father, God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist.”  As a child of God, I do believe that I have this same ability.

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There are days when I feel trapped in the ordinary, stuck chasing persons who talk, think and travel in circles and packs of the predictable, who have the same problems and resolve at the same conclusions every single time.  I point to a new path; they point to the crowd.  “Every one is going this way.  Why can’t you just follow history?  Why can’t you be who we have always been.”

It is because I have a vision of a race-less humanity.  I can feel the potential of our extraordinary being.  We are more than flesh; we are spirit.

I recognize that I am caught in the mundane but the mysterious is in sight.  I am inching closer to my true self with every declaration of race-lessness.  A race- less life is a Christ- filled life.

And in the same manner, I am moving close to the Eternal God though time often interjects.  The clock’s hands get in the way of this timeless, boundary-free existence.  They point to the past too, making connections that string me along until I see the pattern, the cycle… the circles.

I can’t walk that way.  Though my flesh attempts to ground me, my spirit soars.

And I have better words than race for my humanity, my being and belonging.  I have bigger words than its systems of hatred and rejection, of lawlessness and fear.  I have the omnipresent Word that cannot be segregated or divided, colored in or categorized.

God is the Word unspoken, self- existent and self- evident.  Made in God’s image, I cannot be what race suggests.  The word is simply too small.  There is not enough room for me there; I cannot conform.

So, I build the place my soul can inhabit.  Sight unseen, I call it into existence now.  Post- racial.