Looking at race eliminativism through a biblical lens
I invite everyone to engage with the theory of racelessness and Flowers to write a review of my forthcoming book "The Raceless Antirracist," which is the only comprehensive presentation of my theory. I also invite all to read "Take Me to the Water" by Reverend Dr. Starlette Thomas, a must read for Christians regarding racelessness. :)
Good stuff. I too am skeptical of optimists and for different reasons that I am skeptical of pessimists. I believe the parable of the Good Samaritan offers a technically anti-racist lesson, rather than a raceless one, but that the New Commandment is indeed raceless. There are Christian ethics with good moral directions away from the foolishness of race, but as everyone also knows the Son of Ham contradicts both.
For contemporary Americans, a hybrid approach is best, with the understanding that solutions will be inevitably unevenly distributed. There are many reasons to leave Mississippi and embrace Tacoma. There are those who get used to the smell of both places; I cannot abide either. If only St. Peter or Google can know us all, we won't likely be sorted into beloved communities in our short and limited lives. So as individuals we must determine how to treat each other. I'm saying that it is the integrity of the individual that can save us, one at a time. A singular act can make all the difference, and so we must each prepare properly. Who can say what that Samaritan did three years after their charity? That one day, his act was the solution, and that is all we have any reason to expect of ourselves, none of us being God or gifted to change the mind of mankind.
So I am proud to be a skeptical eliminativist, in consonance with my respect for Christian ethics, Stoic philosophy and the Tao. My own reasoning puts us on a similar path to undermine the premises of the primacy of racial identity.
The philosophy of Rousseau has persisted despite monumental evidence of its falsehood. “Man is born free but is forever in chains.” Evil comes from “systems” not from the people who build them. How can good people build evil systems?
While I side with Dr Mason for the most part, your article is more than fair.
I am more of a stoic, so the self assessment by Mason is more aligned for me. And assigning merit based on immutable characteristics is always the problem.
Treat people as the individuals they are. That will eventually fix the group dynamics, not the other way round. It’s not a utopian ideal, but more of an easily tested hypothesis. And while it certainly won’t reverse any societal ills in the short term in and of itself, it will address individual ones, and those hopefully will lead to the eventual improvements.
Thanks for sharing Henry... I would say you look through a truthful lens... of course that's the same as biblical.
There is some fair skepticism here, but also what seems to me to be a big flaw in reasoning. The logical flaw is in measuring these ideologies by two very different standards. If we are to disregard an ideology because it won't actually transform society, and we set aside racelessness for that reason, then isn't that also a reason to disregard the gospel? It's been 2,000 years. It seems that you would have to give racelessness at least a few centuries of failure before you could claim it to be only equal to the gospel, let alone inferior. That said, I don't think that whether or not it would fix society is the right standard. Doing what's right is right. The point is not that it will bring us the larger societal outcome that we want, though we can hope for that, the point is to be someone who does what is right. Dr. Mason is showing us a way to avoid being complicit with evil. That, in and of itself, is a worthwhile end.
Sorry, you cannot have racism without racial categories so if you end racial categories you end racism.
There cannot be a dispute in that. If you are suggesting you can't end racism, then you are suggesting you can't end racial categories. It is a logical necessity.
I partially agree with you because the removal of implied racial hierarchies, aka binaries, like white v. BIPOC, from one’s language is necessary but not sufficient for creating a race-less society. Also, like you I don’t believe tribal human nature changes, because binary terms in our language reflect our incessant natural ability to demagogue, to divide each other through in-group/out-group binary identity relations, and the Good Samaritan illustrates what breaking down these binary relations looks like, to pray for and do good to our enemies (binary relation).
The salvific effect on our thoughts that these and other stories have are imo why Christ also says in John 5:39 to “search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life” (KJV). Here, perhaps consider that Christ also appealed to our intellect. He is pointing not just to revealed eternal truths but to distinct language about those truths, indispensably codified as scriptural testimony by prophets like Moses. He does so precisely because language can be false, or inaccurately describe reality and Eternal Truth. Mason is perhaps no less optimistic than Christ was about how language can make us change our thoughts for the better in our ‘fallen nature’ when Mason recognizes how language can alter our thoughts, then beliefs about each other, after which a changed heart and redemptive actions (to which you point) can follow.
For example of false language, the social justice binary trope of disparity equals discrimination (aka oppression) reveals an often false binary perception of otherwise complex racial demographic relations. It falsely provokes unwarranted agitation toward dismantling society (actions) by identifying whites as oppressors and BIPOC as oppressed. Sowell eloquently points to this ‘verbal virtuosity’, or linguistic falsehood, in “Discrimination and Disparities” and “Social Justice Fallacies”. Without this woke lingo, less faulty dichotomous perception would occur imo, less enemy-making along racial lines.
This is my best case (on the fly) for why language is necessary but not sufficient to remove racism, and why Christ does appeal to our intellect as only one among many means of reaching or opening our hearts.
Here’s a quote from Jean Toomer’s poem “The Blue Meridian” that speaks directly to these issues, and reflects my vision for the world my mixed-race grandchildren will be navigating soon:
Suggested reads, both by Siddarth Kara:
Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers our Lives;
Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective
Is there some type of censorship on comments?
Thank you for this article, very insightful, very helpful.
It may have been included and I just missed it, but Jeremiah 17:9 certainly seems to apply in a discussion on this topic.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Henry. I was actually on a panel with Dr. Sheena Mason a couple years ago, arguing against racelessness. My stance was similar to what you wrote in your piece. And I am a Christian too, but I must say I have since become more optimistic about racelessness and don’t think it challenges Christian beliefs. Think of it as colorblindness, with a bit more intention.
I don’t think that the terms ‘white’ or ‘black’ have any purpose beyond division, and that’s the core of Mason’s argument. If we have been trained to normalize such redundant terms, and can attest hundreds of years later to it’s harmful effects, we can agree to rid ourselves of them and see what happens next.
This concept is not new. Rwandans agreed to no longer use terms of phenotypical differentiation since the ‘94 genocide, and from what I’ve experienced first-hand living there, things are not utopian, but they’re definitely much better.
These are Muslim controlled schools
There marketing to rich Muslims from the 30 countries that are at war with Israel since 1948 is to do what they are now doing.
These schools stood up to the US Congress......they do not need the Jewish donors they now have rich Muslim donors
Which they violated federal education law by not reporting this foreign money
Be color blinded but culturally minded.
This Is my Philosophy. I don't ascribe to notions of race because race was created by what we now call racists. By bigots. I can't say exactly when I started suspecting that this is Truth, but a trip to Philadelphia's Franklin Institute - a science museum - to explore an exhibit on culture convinced me of this. An author featured in that exhibit said exactly that: that race isn't real.
And boy, have I gotten pushback on that idea. Sorry, not an idea - rather, Truth.
Henry is exactly right. And it's rather ironic. You see, cultural and ethic bigotry was created out of a perversion of scripture. Yet, scripture explicitly states that we all sin and fall short of the glory. We were created to be a little less than angels, but we don't even come close to such lofty aspirations.
It is absolutely within us to create a utopia on this Earth, but we have fallen so far from Grace I can barely conceive of such a thing happening in my lifetime. To add to this great sin, many of us now think we can do it without God. Or upon a perverted, unfounded notion of God.
... so yes, celebrate cultural and ethnic differences. Those differences weave a tapestry of potential and Glory, founded in God. Those differences do not justify inferiority or superiority but rather a complimentary unity.
The great problem of our times is godlessness. It's as simple and as tragic as that.
I am an agnostic. This racelessness is just naive utopianism. I don't even bother thinking about it.
Black Americans especially kids have the problem of putting social pressure on each other to fail. Black adults talk about education but let Whites define what it is and select the books.
Black Christians!? Please!
What did MLK say about the Ethiopian Bible? I did not even learn there was such a thing until the 1980s. The Ethiopians kicked the Jesuits out of the country in 1633. Somehow that did not make it into the history books at the Catholic schools I attended.
Black Americans need some intellectual segregation here.
When Africa Awakes by Hubert Henry Harrison
To hell with:
The Catcher In the Rye by J. D. Salinger
What about Cobalt in the Congo being controlled by the Chinese. Is Geo-Techno-Economic Politics too difficult?
Black Man's Burden by Mack Reynolds