Tag Archives: teaching racelessness

The Inspiration of Race

What inspires our belief in race?  Why do we have so much faith in this social construct?  Is it because we built it that we take pride in it, that we cannot let it go?

For me and I suppose so many others, race creates more questions than answers.  In fact, the more that I study race, the more curious I become as to how it has maintained our interest and dominated our understanding of self, neighbor and God. A most pressing question for me now is, “What is the inspiration behind our declarations of race and what motivates us to continue to share this social belief system?”

We know that race is not biologically real and has been scientifically disproven; still, we believe in it.  For all of our “progress” as post- modern people, we can’t seem to move beyond race.  We know that race was not created in order for us to better understand ourselves, our purpose and inherent worth.  We can trace it back to a person: Johann Friedrich Blumenbach; yet, we continue to allow race to inform our theology and the practice of our faith.

It is our willful ignorance of this truth that propels the identity forward to each generation.  We lack the motivation and the interest in discovering our true selves.    We’ve heard the message of race before but it continues to inspire us because it elevates and empowers our flesh.

The fact is that we want to be so far removed from God and God’s sovereignty that we are willing to accept race and its social conditions despite its injustices, inconveniences and inconsistencies. The prickly truth is we would rather live the lie than accept the truth that we are made in God’s image.  We would rather worship the creature than the Creator (Romans 1.25).  It is the possibility of divinity a part from God that inspires us to live as racial beings, practicing segregation, singing stereotypes, praising prejudice.

Breaking all the rules of race

I’m feeling rebellious this morning, like something new and necessary should be done.  I am not interested in contributing to this American society as it has been but would rather pursue what God says can be– not only for me but for all those who would leave race behind.  I am tired of living life afraid of what I think that I missed out on because of race/ racism/ prejudice.  I am tired of living my life afraid of others who I have never spoken to and who have never spoken to me.  I am tired of living my life afraid of what race has done, could and will do to me, obeying its rules which do more to disrupt and disorder my life.

I refuse to live my life based on rules for which persons agree are ungodly, unfounded and unnecessary.  I’m breaking all the rules of race for the rest of my life beginning with these:

1.  I will love the God not made in my own socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige image but embrace the mystery that our stereotypes pretend to reveal and accept the sovereignty of the One whose will is not determined by the whims of racism or prejudice.

2.  I will not place my cultural identity, heritage and its history above the supreme reality of God but will strive to “live, move and have my being” in the newness of Jesus Christ (Acts 17.28).  The celebration of socially color- coded histories (i.e. black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige history month) is not to be compared with or subjected to our time with God and in eternity.  God has done more than any people group individually or combined with others and all that we are able to accomplish for good according to His will is because of God and for His glory.

3.  I will not practice the traditions of race as if they satisfy the will of God for me, my cultural group or others.

4.  I will not place the commandments of racism (i.e. “Thou shall hate them before they hate you.  Thou shall oppress because you deserve to be on top.  Thou shall not forgive because a relationship with ‘them’ is purposeless and without value.”) above the commandments of God, seeing the latter as impossible and ideal in nature only and the former as the mature response to oppression, abuse and hatred.

5.  I will not allow my eyes to be coopted by the stereotypical lenses of others.  I will experience life for myself and not on race’s terms.  I will allow persons to introduce themselves to me and disregard the prideful, self- serving introductions of racism and stereotypes.

6.  I will not go along quietly and be held hostage to the hatred of others for which rational reasons have not been accounted for.

7.  I will have more than one socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige friend.  I do not accept “token” friendships but seek authentic relationships and dialogue.

8.  I will not play the race game, carry or collect race cards.

9.  I will not identify myself or others based on race.  I am not a colored human being.  I am simply a human being.

10.  I will talk about race until I am blue in the face.

Dr. Silvia Mazzula in a post titled “But You Speak So Well”: How Latinos Experience Subtle Racism,” provides this noteworthy definition of microaggression: “things said or done – many times unconsciously – that reflect a person’s inner thinking, stereotypes and prejudices. They are difficult to recognize because they are brief, innocuous, and often difficult to see.”  She also shares with readers the effects of microaggressions and why we need to be conscious of their use.

Letters of the Editor

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, John L. Hodge, a retired lawyer and former professor of philosophy, asks the hard questions of race and provides a remedy that doesn’t require an apology or reparations, protests or demonstrations, an appeal to the Supreme Court or a change in the laws of the land.

We know that race is a social construct, that there is no biological evidence to classify human beings according to race.  We agree that we have made it up and that we make it possible, that we sustain the life of race and the continued practice of racism.  We have documented the harm that it has caused our ancestors and can recount the ways in which it has and is and will hurt us.  Nevertheless, we will give this lifestyle and lens to our children.  We understand that this way of living will render them blind to the many other ways in which to live, move and exist in the world, restricted to colors: black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.

Still, despite the obviously hurtful and harmful conclusions that it draws about us and leads us to make about others, we believe in race and claim it as our own.  We pass along the race card and pass down the names and ways of being that are associated with a racialized life.  We know the idea of race has been used to justify and excuse the most egregious of atrocities against humanity.  But, we are not willing to rid ourselves of the myth.  We continue to tell the story because it entertains us, brings us comfort and/ or lulls our true selves back to sleep.

Maybe we are afraid of what our lives will be like without race, that we will lose our identity whether as the powerful or the powerless.  Perhaps, we are afraid to turn the page, to move to the next chapter or just rid ourselves of the story altogether.  No matter the reason, we will not be able to discount this truth: We rid ourselves of race not through legislation passed in Congress but when we change the laws of our hearts.  We must let down our guard, drop our offenses and put down the weapon of race.  This change begins by reading the letters of another Editor.

No one would argue that many African Americans are socially and financially oppressed in the United States.  But, the Hamitic curse or the curse of Ham has been falsely argued as the cause, that God blessed and cursed persons by creating them in different social colors and that this determines the quality of their lives.  Many persons believe that the position of those socially colored black is a generational curse that dates back to the time of Noah.

But, how many generations are impacted by a curse?  According to Exodus 20.5, “to the third and the fourth generation.”  What generation are we on now?