Race-work, Race-love

Between the Racial Divine and the Racial Divide

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Between the Racial Divine and the Racial Divide

As I review my entries from my first week of blogging, I think about the many ways race-work and race- love have been misinterpreted, misguided, and improperly framed. For example, after years of fighting to abolish legal segregation in schools, today we endure cries of reverse racism. This “revere racism” group, often Whites, used the same rationale that leaders in the Civil Rights Era used. That is, that people should not be discriminated on the basis of race. But that rhetoric is based on preservation of privilege for Whites, whereas in the Civil Rights Era, the desire was for the academic, economic, and social survival of people of color, namely African Americans. The fear of loss of privilege was then projected on us race-workers. Those of us who do this out of love, not fear – that which I call the Racial Divine.

I believe it is this fear that kept me, and many I know, from writing about race. We have seen too many times the ways in which our love for racial justice has been distorted to make us feel bad for talking about race, writing about race, discussing race… could my writing be used by some White supremacist group, or some legal scholars who are against affirmative action? We have seen how people have mangled the words of Thurgood Marshall and countless others who proved that our institutions, and our states, and our nation in general have legally discriminated people based on their race countless times. And those same words today are invoked by anti-affirmative action leaders, anti-Muslim leaders, etc. Of course we are going to be scared to write about race. Of course we only talk about it on our barbershops, salons, in our offices, in our homes. We have allowed for our racial divine to be tarnished by pseudo-race-workers’ cry of a racial divide.

Our Racial Divine – lies in the truth of what we know we do out of love. Love for all people, because when a group in your society is unhappy – that energy affects everyone. Some of us true race-workers know this. Our Racial Divine is that we can speak about race openly and not be scared that someone will tell us to be quiet about that because we do not want to scare others off. Our Racial Divine is one of prayer – where we ask about our civil rights, where we question why are Black and Latino men disproportionately incarcerated, why do Latinas have high rates of depression, or why Black women have high rates of HIV? Our Racial Divine is one of meditation — when we are ready to hear the answers, read the research, hear others talk — and not just allow society to blame it solely on us. Our Racial Divine is, then, after we hear those answers that we march in truth, that we walk our talk, that we do our race-work in love and not the desire to step on other racial groups so that we may feel better. In this Racial Divine, we acknowledge that we do have White allies who want the same thing for everyone, not just out of fear that their kids got a spot at Harvard stolen from them from a Latina student, not just out of rage that their daddy didn’t become a police chief because of some Black cop, or that they don’t seem “cool” enough because their only white role model for “cool” is Eminem. This is not race-love. This is racial anger acting out. This is not our Racial Divine.

Our Racial Divine is lost. The pseudo race-workers are doing a great job at making us lose our Racial Divine. We have to identify those pseudo race-workers and acknowledge that they are the ones creating the racial divide and steering us further from our Racial Divine. We must learn to march in Racial Truth – of course, we can only do this if we are able to recognize the lies in our own lives – but I digress… and to march in truth is difficult. Some may have seen this happen in the morning show The View when Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg left the set after hearing anti-Muslim rhetoric. In the end, they get admonished by Barbara Walters, when the reality is, why should anyone have to continue to listen to anti-Muslim remarks? They marched in their truth – and they got punished for it. Made to look like children by Barbara Walters. Awful. And we buy into it, take it as a lesson, record it in our brains, and when we are confronted by a similar issue we cower because we might get admonished too.

We must reclaim our Racial Divine. We must understand that there is a difference between those involved in racial justice as race-work and the pseudo race workers, ones invested in self-preservation, maintenance of privilege, maintenance of “cool” — in essence the racial divide. True race work loves, educates, is compassionate, commits, is unconditional, is not exclusive. Our own Malcolm X learned this at the end of his journey of his own race-work — he found his Racial Divine.

We must learn to recognize the differences between the Racial Divine and the Racial Divide. We, too, must find our Racial Divine. This is race-love. This is race-work.

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