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In the Matter of Color

Let’s face it, in spite of the challenges presented by the attitudes of others, being Black is a great joy. It is not a matter of selection, God did it for us. We should accept His decision on our color and act out the humanity of our creation as a being in the likeness of God. We do not choose our parents and our path back to God may not be easy, but it is our life to live.

The assignment of race does not limit our gifts or our intellect. It is merely the banner by which those attributes are magnified. We can be concerned about fairness, about whether others are granted health care or opportunity or justice regardless of our race. We can have an affinity for a certain type of music , certain foods, certain styles, regardless of our race. It should be our humanity that guides our choices, not the color of our skin.

Much has been said about Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane Washington NAACP President and her claim to be Black. It is an established fact that she was born white and she sought to disguise that fact by identifying another person as her father and claiming a racial identity that was not hers. She believed she could become by lying about who she was. That is never the case and if you are not caught, at least you know the truth. I am not sure of the motivation of her parents who “outed” her after 10 years or why they adopted four Black children. It does seem that they assign some superiority to being white. Maybe Barack Obama can be used as an example. Though his custodial parent and his grandparents were white, his choice was to identify himself as African American and adopt our culture. Maybe the color of his skin did not allow him to escape.

Whatever the reason, many are faced with similar decisions. More people are of mixed heritage now than ever before. Where previous “race-mixing” was accomplished through rape, it is now the choice of people as to whom they will love. It is a choice granted to them. For those who chose to follow African-American traditions, as I do, there awaits a rich cultural and social dynamic that is hard to replicate. It is a joy born out of struggle and determination. It is the common experience of knowing that racism is real and the racial superiority is a myth.

You cannot change your race. You are assigned that by God. And Rachel Dolezal’s effort to do that was misguided and deceitful. But she has a right to choose what she cares about. If that’s injustice in the world, if that’s fairness, if that’s “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, then she chose well. You just don’t have be Black to believe this. You can be true to the race you were born and still care passionately about these things.

Brad Thompson

July, 2015

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