Homo Labelmaker

It’s okay to hate the white man. Mitch McConnell has become the icon of what “the white man” really is. Hatred can be just. Even the Good Book says, “I have hated them with a perfect hatred.” I am not a white man. A few months ago I took a community course on racism. The only male participant in the class, as it turned out. The teacher at one point, asked me my race. I answered that I don’t see myself as having a race, nor do I see other people as having races. We are people. I am not white. He is not black. Being “white” seems a choice to me, a mindset. To me, it is a marker of privilege. If you grew up in poverty, you’re only white if you choose to be. We must get beyond our simple labels.

Believe me, I know the counter-arguments. Our shameful history allows no one to forget. As someone “not of color”—who wants to be colorless?—I am automatically privileged. I’m treated differently by others simply because of the way I look. I don’t like that, because I believe in fairness. It’s part of evolution. The point is that since race is a human construct, we should be able to deconstruct it. Privilege thrives on feeling special, better than others. The white man is the GOP, even the female members of the party. The white man is one who gloats that checks and balances can be destroyed so that he always and forevermore will win. The white man is a slaveholder. I choose not to be a white man. I choose to join the entirety of humanity. Personhood over race.

Christianity, ironically, has been dragged into this distorted outlook. It is seen as the white man’s religion. Women, in this view, are explicitly subordinate. While the New Testament says little about race—one of the earliest converts was an Ethiopian eunuch—it was written and lived out in a Jewish milieu. White men like to select verses from the Good Book to take out of context to support their own wishes. It’s very convenient to have God on your side. If we decide to deconstruct this view we have to insist on refusing to be labeled. That’s not to condone the sins of racism past. The white man doesn’t believe in evolution because that makes race random rather than a deliberate act of God at the appropriately named tower of Babel. Besides, the thinking goes, any creature not human is here for exploitation. God, according to the Bible, is so colorless as to be spirit only. To be god-like is to reject labels, for spirit cannot be seen.

3 thoughts on “Homo Labelmaker

  1. Brent Snavely

    >The point is that since race is a human construct, we should be able to deconstruct it.<

    More accurately stated, "race is a social construct", which realistically reflects the rather low impact any individual may have upon the subject.

    Like yourself, I am “Not White” – I am not “Black” either – I exist in the perpetual zone of “What Are You?”

    Those-who-raised-me claimed to be “colorblind” but they assuredly were not. That He-who-raised-me marched with MLK did not alter the racialized reality of the US of A. One of the significant race-related lessons I learned in the primarily white communities where I was raised is that individual beliefs, religious or otherwise, do not carry the day. “Seeing White”, whether in one’s self or in others, is important.

    Chenjerai Kumanyika: “It's like, the experience of living as white is a lot about being an individual. And to even be lumped into the group, that's, I think that's part of why when you call someone white, part of the injury is not just that whiteness is understood to be evil, exploitative, whatever, but also just like – Are you putting me in a group? I'm not part of a group! I'm me, I'm an individual, you know.”

    36:08 – 36:31

    As he further noted (I may have made a slight error in transcribing “I’m-You’re”):

    “Sometimes it’s like, I notice when I’m-you’re talking to white people and you say the word ‘white’, it’s almost like you just stabbed them a little bit.”

    0:00 – 0:08 http://podcast.cdsporch.org/episode-42-my-white-friends-seeing-white-part-12/


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