Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sick of Racist, Prejudiced, Identity Politics and Theology

This is a follow up on the Justice for Trayvon post from earlier this week.

I listen to a lot of rhetoric--from politics and from theology.

I listen to a lot of the talk about race, racism, and prejudice.

I hear the voices out there talking loudly and clearly about systems which promote racism.

I hear the voices tell me that racism is about prejudice combined with power therefore, minorities who (according to the people arguing) are incapable of racism.  I remember a college professor who spoke these words passionately to proclaim the impossibility of him being racist.  Under my breath I muttered, "No power, huh?  What the hell does he think his grade book represents?"

I hear the voices clamoring and claiming and counter-claiming.  I find it interesting how each particular ethnic "group" finds people to speak for and represent that particular group.

But do you know what "group" I see missing?  (Well, aside from the fact that in the George Zimmerman trial, I heard very little--at least in the national media--from Hispanic groups.)  I don't see much commentary from truly integrated groups.  Groups like my family.

As I said earlier this week, my family is truly integrated.  My two daughters have different skin color than my own.  They are adopted.  My son actually has a skin tone which is a few shades lighter than my own.  He entered our family naturally.  These points will be revisited in a moment.

The systems of which I am a part loves to make distinctions based upon skin color.  When it came to filling out the U.S. Census there were boxes for me to check regarding the ethnicity of my children.  Technically, I should fill out African-American for two and Caucasian for one. 

The church denomination of which I am a part wants me to fill out forms at the end of the year designating what race/ethnicity members of my congregation are.  Based on skin color, I am supposed to designate my two girls as African-American and my son as white.

The nation I am a part of panders in politics to racial groups.  There is talk about winning the "Black vote, the women's vote, the Hispanic vote, the homosexual vote, the male vote, etc. etc."

The church of which I am a part embraces identity theology coached in Liberation theology--Black Theology, Latin American Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, GLBT Theology, and so on.

The church of which I am a part seeks diversity by starting ethnic congregations: A black church here, a Hispanic church there, an Asian church over there, etc.

I find all of this sickening.  Really.  It actually nauseates me, and then I get angry because I don't want to be nauseous.

You see, being a part of such systems which focus on these distinctions actually causes me quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.  This dissonance comes from the reality of my family versus the reality that the national system and the church system tries to force upon my family.

Let me make this as plain and simple as I possibly can:

Whenever my family and I go out and we meet someone and it comes to introductions, I do not say the following:

This is my black oldest daughter.  This is my black middle daughter.  This is my white son.

Neither do I say this:

This is my adopted oldest daughter.  This is my adopted middle daughter.  This is my natural son.

Honestly, this would be a dumb a$$ way to introduce my family.  Neither is it the way deep down I understand my family to be.  Whenever I introduce people to my family, I say without hesitation, simply:

This is my oldest daughter, Kiera.  This is my middle daughter, Kaylee.  This is my son, Kevin, Jr.

 Sorry to yell, but dammit, this is important I DO NOT MAKE ANY SORT OF DISTINCTION WITHIN MY FAMILY BASED UPON THEIR SKIN COLOR OR WHETHER OR NOT THEY WERE ADOPTED OR NATURAL.  I love my children without any sort of distinction or attention given to their obvious differences.  Families do that, you know.

I mean, do you honestly believe that if God were introducing His children around, He would say, "This are my black children.  These are my white children.  These are my brown children."  Do you think God makes distinctions like this?  (Read Galatians 3:27-28, and you will find the answer.)

And then I run into a society and church culture which wants me to begin making those distinctions.


I refuse.

Go play your identity games.

Go try to make distinctions and divide based upon your fabricated notions of race, prejudice and identity politics and theology.

But don't try to make me play along.  You see, I don't just talk about integration.  I don't just talk theoretically about race being a non-issue.  I live it.  Every day of my life--I live it and love it.  And I will uncompromisingly fight to protect my family from divisive politics and theology whether it is in society or even in the church.  

As I have written before, so I write again.  I remember vividly when asked by a congregation member who has now passed on, "I don't understand why you didn't adopt within your own culture."

Without hesitation, I said, "God doesn't care about such matters.  Neither do I."


valerie.june said...

I feel your irritation. And your nausea. And at times I feel completely helpless to change anything, or at least make it better. All I can do is treat those I meet with kindness, love and respect, regardless of how they "look".

Here's a story about a little boy who grew up in this area. It IS a true story, but the names have been changed (to protect the truly innocent). Billy and Bobby were the best of friends. They were in the third grade and had been friends as long as either could remember. Since they were getting older, Billy's mom said it was OK to have dinner at Bobby's house with his family. When Billy's mom picked him up, he looked at her a little puzzled and asked, "Are all of Bobby's brothers black?" You see.........Billy is white, and Bobby is black. But Billy never noticed that Bobby was black...that is until he met Bobby's family. I just laughed when I heard the story, but then stopped because...I heard a lesson there. Oh that we could all be as color-blind as Billy.

Kevin Haug said...

Thank you for sharing that, Valerie.