Tag Archives: race-lessness

A God Big Enough

maxresdefault“No one is ever really at ease in facing what we call ‘life’ and ‘death’ without religious faith.  The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs.  While their experience of life has grown in a score of directions and their mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and by scientific discoveries, their ideas of God have remained largely static.  It is obviously impossible for an adult to worship the conception of God that exists in the mind of a child of Sunday- school age, unless he is prepared to deny his own experience of life.”  These words and this challenge to believers as well as teachers of the Christian faith belong to J.B. Phillips, recorded in a small book titled Your God Is Too Small.

His words poke and prod me to continue on in pursuit of the sight unseen: race-less people and the God who is Spirit (John 4.24).  I confess that if I can see this God, color this God in, culture and socially credential God based on the flesh, then I must have made another.  Because the Spirit cannot be contained or created to fit into a box or a community.  Furthermore, if I can vote this God in and out, then I have traded this God for one that can fit my political preferences, a god approved of by the people and really no god at all.

No, I want a God who is bigger than me, whose eyes are not as small as mine or limited to one body.  I want to see the world and its inhabitants not as stereotypes would have me to but as God has created us.  I want to look into the faces of my neighbors and see the humanity that is greater than social colors and physical features, textures of hair and the shapes of nose.  I want to see the Spirit of God in them, breath captured in flesh.

I desire that the image of God cover us, that we see this thread of the Divine spread across the world and upon all faces.  I pray that we are unable to see past it or through it.  I believe that we can face ourselves and see neighbors without race because our God is big enough to define us all.

Beyond

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While I understand the angst, disgust and frustration of those who hear the word post- racial and point quickly to the latest example of racialized injustice (also known as hubris, selfishness, self and other- hatred and self- deception), I struggle with communicating my need to move past the social construct of race.  I am tired of building it up, of holding it together, of supporting race.  I am so tired of race being a part of what holds me and you together because it doesn’t.

Instead, it tears me and you apart while pointing the finger at us.  You did it.  No, you did it.  And yet, it is true.  It is not race at all but it is me and you who construct race as the reason for our differences and our not coming together.

This is why I don’t want to talk about race anymore.  I want to talk about our shared humanity.  Because if we are talking about race, then we are not talking about our humanity.  My external appearance is not what makes me a human being because I lose my hair and my skin is wrinkling and my eyes itch.  They all change; my humanity does not.

Race is not synonymous with identity or personhood.  It is no substitute for being or becoming.  It is not a way of relating to ourselves or our neighbors.  And I am simply tired of hearing persons say that it is and it is the only way to be, see or do any of these things.

My hope comes in three parts: prayer, desire and craving. It is this need to create a community without race.  I don’t want and I can’t want anything else.  It is the way that I was made.

I know that this need may not be shared.  So, I am not asking for persons to hurry their conversations with self or others.  Take the time to figure out what you are saying and what is being said about you.  Listen and respond for yourself.

However, I am concerned about the repetition of what we have done against each other, said again and again not in hopes of harvesting insight but in order to harden ourselves.  We repeat the stories in order to toughen up, to close off and to close ranks.

I am not demanding that we keep silent and not challenge those who commit deeds of hatred, that we fearfully acquiesce and believe the lie that change happens without difficult conversations and hard emotions.  Yes, do all of this and that and more.  But, when you have, then what?

Are we even prepared for life after race?  Do we have a timeline for which it all should occur?  Have we constructed goals that might assist in our peacefully and respectfully being together?  Who and how will we measure them?  And how long should it take?  How much time are we going to give ourselves to complete the task of reconciling?

My name indicates my position; stars shine above us.  But, they are also out of reach, beyond us.  I think that I have been gifted with a sense of sight that is above and more importantly beyond what is being said and seen about all of us in matter of race.

While writing, I am reading Howard Thurman’s seminal work The Inward Journey.  Not surprisingly, I just read these words:  “The life inherent is moving always toward goals and ends that are sensed only when realized.  And beyond all these there may be a life of mankind which is more than individuals and groups but in which there is the built- in purpose, aim and goal.”

What I am seeking and what I will ultimately find is beyond me.  It is the life of the Spirit, beyond earth, beyond flesh, beyond eyes and beyond our imaginations.

 

Who came first- people or race?

chickeneggUnlike the chicken or the egg analogy, human beings and the social construct of race are not inseparable.  Humans did not come from race but race did come from humans, a product of Enlightenment thinking.  Race was not “in the beginning” with God but is with us now because we created it.  We came first and then race.

It is so odd now that race comes first and then our humanity, that we consider the race of a person to determine who they are, what they will be, what they can do.  We place race above empathy, hospitality, reality and even common sense.  When bad things happen, who comes first: the person or their race?  And why does it matter so much?

Does our response or lack thereof depend on how they look?  And if so, why is it a determining factor?  Why are we putting race first, above our call to love and our duty to raise a village?  Who really comes first when we put it like this?

New Day, New Me

imgres“We need the courage to create ourselves daily.”

~ Maya Angelou

Race is finished.  It is done with us.  It has nothing new to add but has concluded that we are more of the same.  We are all just colored people.

Race stereotypes us, box us up, prepackaged us long before we were born.  It is just moving us along sight unseen.  Next.  Just go where all the others have gone– to your corner of the city, to your side of the street, either this or that side of the tracks.

Love us and hate them.  They are all the same and we are all the same.  Life is all the same.  Nothing changes.  No one can change.  No one can break the mold.

I am so tired of race relations, of relating to people and places and time and space and myself according to the social construct of race.  I am so tired of hearing that my external appearance determines my reality, that the surface of me speaks to the depths of me.  I want something new.  I want to see some one new.  I want to be made new.

And God makes us new.  We just don’t see it.  Things like race get in the way and I want it to move.  But, not just move over but get lost, leave and not ever find its way back to me.

I want everyday to be free of race and its progeny. So, on Sunday, it’s a new me. On Monday, it’s a new me.  On Tuesday, it’s a new me.  On Wednesday, it’s a new me.  On Thursday, it’s a new me.  On Friday, it’s a new me.  On Saturday, it’s a new me.  I never get old, get left over, hand me down ways of being.

I am never the same.  No, God makes us all new, brand spanking new.  So, if it’s a new day, then it’s a new me.  Thanks be to God.

Healing ourselves of race

Race hurts.  It hurts because it attacks the essence of who we are and it gets personal.  It talks about our appearance, who our parents are, where we live and how we behave.  It either says that it is wrong and bad or that it is good and better; either way, it places us at odds with the one to whom we are being compared.

Race is a touchy subject because race does not allow us to be healed.  Its existence is predicated upon our pain, the belief that we are not good enough.  Despite God’s declaration to the contrary, each incident of hatred picks at it (Genesis 1.31).  “See, I told you so,” race says to us.

Sorry, there are no race physicians; instead, we will have to heal ourselves (Luke 4.23).  But, first we will need to admit that we have a problem, that race is a problem and troublesome when it comes to our Christian identity and the practice of faith.

We must talk about it.  Don’t make excuses for it: “Oh, it’s not so bad.  It looks worse than it is.  It doesn’t hurt.”  We must not pretend that we are stronger than we are and admit that race has hurt us and is hurting us.  We can heal from the effects of race by talking about it.  But, we cannot heal what we do not speak about.

We need to tell our selves that we have been hurt by race.  This, too, is a sign of strength.  Acknowledging that we have and are in pain is important.  Then, we can tell someone else.

Diagnose the problem.  How and when and where has race hurt you?  Be specific.  Locate your pain not the pain of “your people.”

Seek out a cure.  It is not enough to point at the wound if we are not going to apply an ointment.  Mine is the word of God.  What’s yours?