I started this series back in September, and then my senior thesis devoured my life and time. I’m grateful that it did. All that spare time away from my blog really gave me time to think, and think hard.
People talk a lot about racism, and about the other races in the world, and all of these terms using the root word “race.”
That bothers me.
Race, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics,” and yet I find this definition and even the word’s subconscious connotations highly problematic. Highly divisive.
First, each of these “major divisions” is itself a negative association. As humans, we were specifically designed to exhibit unique cultures, ethnicities, skin colors, bone structures–you name, we were made for it. These in no way call for a major division of anything, be it of humankind or of the unity of that humankind.
Secondly, as anyone could probably tell you in today’s sci-fi saturated world, the word “race” has come now to mean something along the lines of “a species set apart from another species by major distinctions in DNA, body structure, physiognomical characteristics, etc.;” to make it far clearer, Han Solo and Chewbacca are best friends. But they are very different races. One is human, the other a wookie. Two entirely different races.
How could humans possibly apply this to other humans? We, frankly, are all of one race–that being “human”–and to consider someone alien based on skin color, cultural practices, geographical location, or anything else ethnicity related is ludicrous. Let me say this very clearly so that there can be no confusion when I pull this point forward:
ONLY ONE RACE EXISTS. THE HUMAN RACE.
Now allow me to clarify before any hackles go up. I am in love with other cultures, differently-pigmented people, ethnic backgrounds ranging far and wide, survival techniques from igloo-building to laying in the shade of the Baobab. In short, I am in love with humans. I weep for humans. I rejoice with humans. I despair in the rocky, inexplicable times of human tragedy. I am human, and so is every living person on this planet.
Never will I consider my fellow man or woman to be a different race with whom I cannot identify, something alien and not-of-this-world. Haitian brothers and sisters, I wish I could have your passion. Latino friends, your music is incredible and inimitable and soul-achingly inspiring. Indian brethren, the beauty of your country makes me sob to be in your presence. African American kin, your resilience makes me pray to God for the type of endurance you exhibit. Scottish ancestors, I wish I knew your stories, and I yearn to go to your (and my) country to feel what you felt. Mexican ilk, I pray for your hardships to end every time I hear a report of violence in your streets. Jewish cousins, I envy your long and hard-wrought history of faith and reverence to God.
There are too many cultures to rightly name here.
Whoever you are reading this, whatever your pigment, however your build your houses, wherever you live and breathe and feel emotions and experience human life–know that your pain is my pain. We both cry salt tears. Red blood runs in our veins. The same medical procedures to make me better will make you better. Why?
Because we’re human. Not aliens so different and foreign beyond all hope of reconcile.
I’m a white woman. I grew up in Maine where the only racism I knew existed happened years and years ago, and I thought we had moved past it. Then I entered high school and began watching national news. Much to my surprise and despair, we have not. And for everyone who is not white who’s reading this, I’d like to ask a genuine question, and please send me the best answer you can think of, because I’m authentically confused. As a white person who’s mother and stepfather never made more than $25,000 a year, why is it that the only racism I’ve personally experienced came from white classmates no older than myself?
Now, years later and my last semester in college, my very best friends range all over the board of ethnicity. My heartbreak for the nation pounds through my chest. I can hardly claim to have the answers for any of this chaos, but one thing I do know is that once we begin to lay aside the “race” definition meaning “other than the human we think ourselves to be,” we will never be able to appreciate one another. And once we appreciate one another, we can move on to the solution: love.
Global change is nigh unto impossible, I realize that. I’m not so much of a dreamer that I drift beyond application. However, I hold to the belief that worlds can change; the neighbor down the street, the single mom, the elderly couple who frequent your local grocery store. Their worlds can change. And when pieces of the world find love, find God, how can the whole not feel it?
Race is a concept. Humans are real. I pray that soon we realize this in our own pockets of humanity.
As always, dear hearts, know that Jesus loves and weeps for you, and so do I.