Why Celebration Trumps Colorblindness

“Race is there and it is a constant. You’re tired of hearing about it? Imagine how tiring it must be living it.”

Jon Stewart will throw a punch.

On August 26th, the Daily Show featured a long segment responding to a common white response of Ferguson.

Unequipped to recognize racial injustice, many Americans think that issues of race have been resolved in American. And under that notion we believe that “race” is only an issue when we talk about it.

Race is there and it is a constant. And polarizing as it seems to be, we better get used to it. It’s not going anywhere.

Colorblindness is the popular solution–an unwillingness not just to reserve mentions of race, but to recognize race at all.

When we–speaking predominantly to white people–are unable to recognize race, we’re going to come to very different conclusion than our Black and Hispanic, and Asian and First Nations friends.

We’ve turned whiteness into a default, and that has some serious implications. That is why we–white people, majority culture–can simply not talk about race. We, in a position of power, have assumed the default.

People of other races then are perceived to be a deviation from the norm. That’s why we have Americans, and then we have African Americans and Native Americans and Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. As a deviation from the norm, from whiteness, they need a modifier.

We have white people, and then we have people of color.

The simple language we use colors our misappropriation (pun intended).

flourish-ccda-raleigh-2014

As I attend the Christian Community Development Association National Conference, I hear Jon Stewart’s thought repeated.

Marshall Hatch, a proud black pastor from Garfield Park Chicago, spits fire. Before a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational crowd of Christians united in a common commitment to respectfully develop communities, born out of God’s heart for the poor and commitment to the marginalized, he preaches some truth.

“If you’re a white person tired of hearing about race, how do you think I feel?”

Race related issues are a point of exhaustion in nonwhite communities. because everything they do and say is filtered through the lens of race. As a “deviation” from the norm, they have no choice.

By 2043, white people will no longer be the majority of people in the United States. With that demographic in mind. racial tension will only increase, by our current path.

Let’s name it and talk about it.

Let’s hash out the details, the issues, the tension points, because there are more coming.

Race isn’t going away.

It’s a constant.

It’s real.

When we get there, and while we’re here, colorblindness will never be the solution.

Perhaps the reality of race is frightening.

Maybe it just sounds downright exhausting.

But we’re not looking forward to a future where we can quit talking about race altogether. We’re looking forward to a future where we no longer have to lament racial injustice, but instead celebrate our differences.

At CCDA we talk about race a lot. Sometimes in a tone of exhaustion, but more often with a tone of celebration. Integration is good. To be multi-ethnic is a God thing. Diversity is a kingdom principle, and we will end up in a diverse community of believers worshiping the Lord–if not here and now, in the coming days of a new earth.

We laugh. We celebrate. We banter and make jokes.

Because, ultimately, race is good.

Ethnicity is a good thing, and that is why we will not ignore it.

It’s a constant.

We’re looking for a constant celebration.

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