Tag Archives: the rules of race

We made the rules

images“History is made by those who break the rules.”

~ An author unknown

If you want to get me fired up, just start talking about how helpless we are in terms of race. If you want to get me energized, just start telling me what I can’t do because of racism, prejudice and stereotypes.  Start spouting off experiences and examples, facts, quotes and statistics that seek to attack my humanity, to limit the possibility of me, to prove that I don’t have a chance if race has a say and position me as an eternal victim of race.

If you are trying to give me a “reality check,” to put me in my social place, I assure you that it will have the opposite effect. Instead of cowering, bowing my head and surrendering to the oppressive reality of race, my chest will poke out.  Uh, uh.  Not here.  Not me.  Not ever.

While I agree that the social construct of race has power, that its presence is systemic, I do not believe that I, or any other human being, is powerless to change it.  I believe that we can change the system, destroy the system even because the operators are human.  And it just takes one person to not put on the uniform, to call in sick, to not stand in place, to not report for duty, to break the habit of prejudicial relationships, to challenge and question the authority of stereotypes, to take a stand and talk back to this history of hatred.

Our belief in race and participation in this social faith is mass- produced.  When we submit to race, we place our lives on a conveyor belt and our lives are boxed up according to its stereotypes.  But, this conveyor belt of uniformity can be stopped.  You and I can turn away from race and run in the opposite direction.  Our lives can cause a jam that will allow others to fall off and have a chance at authenticity and individuality.

We need only speak the truth and in so doing assert our position as a child of God: The only all- powerful being is God. Race is not all- powerful.  The only all- knowing being is God. Race cannot, does not and will never every know me deeply, fully or truly.  The only always present being is God.  We can rid ourselves of race.

We can stop.  We can say stop.  We can tell race, “You cannot go any further.  You do not run my life.”

The fact is this is our game.  We made the race cards.  We pass them out.  We play them.

We made the rules of race so we can break the rules of race, abolish them even.  We don’t have to hate or prejudge.  We don’t have to segregate ourselves.  We can love across cultures.

We can cross “the color line.”  We can erase it if we really wanted to.  It’s written in self- regulating pencil not stone.

We can share our power and resources.  We can stop cheating and stealing.  We can stop manipulating and dominating.  We can change the game.  It just takes one to say, “Let’s play something else.”

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.

The Images We Create

We have images that we have created and that we seek to be created in.  For example, there is the celebrity or more specifically, the movie star.  In order to be considered one, there is not only a gift or talent that must be valued by others.  But once “discovered,” there is an image that she or he must adhere to.  There is a way to dress, to pose for cameras and to give an interview.  There are certain places that celebrities go and don’t go because they have an image to maintain.

The same can be said of race.  It is an image that we have created and with it, come rules much like that of the movie star.  If you are going to call yourself black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige, then you must avoid these people and not date those people.  Black people dress like this.  White people sound like that.  Red people eat this.  Yellow people believe that.  Brown people do this type of work.  Beige people live here.  However, if you do not adhere to these rules, which are more so social expectations, then you could be considered not black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige or not black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige enough.  This lack of obedience could cause one to be shunned from the group or made to feel out of place.  In this instance, it is not acceptable to be different.

Breaking the rules of race jeopardizes the stereotypes that have been put in place, which serve as a kind of description for each image.  It also distorts the images which include mammy, buck, pickaninny and Uncle Tom, which, in turn, change and/or challenge the prejudices that we must hold if we are to be a member of these socially colored groups. As is often said, “Image is everything.” So, whose or what image have you been created in?