I do not identify with race

As American Christians, we say that we are ambassadors of Christ, yet we are unable to reconcile with others because of race. We allow our racial identity to dictate what part of Christ’s calling we will fulfill. We have more faith in the transformative power of race than in the regenerative work of Jesus Christ.

I am not recognized in, by or through race, and I do not want to be associated with others based on the social coloring of my skin. Instead I want to be identified by my Christian confession and witness. If there would be a general group that I would want to be included in, it would be those called “the great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12.1-2).

I want to be known by and for my faith, which is greater than any external marker subject to social interpretation, political climate, age, illness or death. There are too many exceptions to race’s social, behavioral and aesthetic rules to make a positive identification through the social coloring of skin. And I refuse to allow this human social condition or the treatment of others based on prejudice to become the means by which I understand myself.

How can someone live this American life as a Christian while believing that God would create them to be hated, oppressed and forsaken all because of the characteristics of their creation? God does not create us out of hatred or in order to favor another.

One truth must overrule the other, and if Christ’s truth to His disciples does not take precedent we have not fully grasped it. Or perhaps, we have not allowed Christ’s truth to take hold of us. It seems that we are ever more possessed by race and versed in its pronouncements.

As American Christians, we say that we are ambassadors of Christ, yet we are unable to reconcile with others because of race. We allow our racial identity to dictate what part of Christ’s calling we will fulfill. We are better representatives of race and heralds of its message.

We have more faith in the transformative power of race than in the regenerative work of Jesus Christ. Our identity as white/ black/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people is more relevant, resourceful and applicable to us. It makes more sense to us.

We know the Scriptures and recite them, but we do not identify ourselves by them. We are better converts of race. We believe its testimony. We share our stories of race more freely because we are not ashamed of our racial identity, though we should be. We are more proud of the social coloring of our skin than our Christ. But, to accept a racial identity is to deny one’s Christian identity. How can this be?

If someone is insignificant and weak due to the social coloring of skin, what purpose is sacred Scripture or the work of Christ? Has the blood lost its power? The cross its saving ability? Can race defeat Christ or interfere with His work in us? Well, can it?

Does the Bible lack the ability to identify and position us outside of this world’s systems and meanings? Is God unable to provide a refuge for us from race? Can the hand of God not save us from race?

What is the purpose of the Word of God if it cannot triumph over the social prophecies of humanity? Are we not more than conquerors through Christ Jesus (Romans 8.37)? Can we not do all things through Him (Philippians 4.13)?

Has the freedom of Christ not set us free (Galatians 5.1)? Does Christ being formed in us not change or challenge how society attempts to shape us (Galatians 4.19)? If you believe that these sacred Scriptures do not apply to race, then you have your answer and you know what you answer to.

I do not identify with race, and as a Christian I should not. Instead, I want to be identified with Christ. This is my hope and my prayer. Amen.

This post originally ran on ABPnews.com on May 23, 2012.

Starlette McNeill

Author's Website
About the Author
Starlette McNeill, an ordained minister, works for the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and blogs at The Daily Race.

Read more posts by

  • Dan Webster

    Starlette, thank you for your article. I have read the ones you have written in the past and you always do a great job and you are always on target. Again, thank you.

  • Toussaint Hutchinson

    No race. Know and follow Christ. Excellent commentary. Thank you Sister Starlette.

  • Cecelia Grant-Peters

    Very interesting piece Starlette, sadly, racial segregation is alive and well and living in the church. I personally do not go to church as much these days, but I do find that your race determines which congregation you attend. I keep reminding certain “Christians” that Christ was no respecter of persons, but it is ingrained in them, the “them” and “us” syndrome is definitely not what Jesus had in mind.

    • Jack Byas

      Cecelia, her article was very good. If you want to find any behavior in society, you can. The overall consensus and behavior does not match what you speak of. It once did to be sure but that day is past. Some who will espouse that rhetoric do so because of personal need. People like Jesse Jackson must or they will be out of a job. America when compared to the rest of the world past or present looks very good. If you think a nation in the past or present has a better record on race, please name them.
      I think her article was very good.

      • Cecelia Grant-Peters

        I agree with you Jack, and of course the article is very good, but I was not talking about USA.

  • Carol Cooper

    Very thought provoking, and I agree with you very much. In response to a comment from another reader, it seems to me more and more that worship styles seem to be determining the kinds of congregations people join and in some communities this will be reflected by diverse congregations.