Thinking about Race

This article was originally posted January 21st, 2008 on my Facebook “Notes”. It is reprinted here because I am moving some of those posts over to the blog site.

I do not believe there is such a thing called “race”. I believe that every single human is descended from Adam and Eve. I believe that every person now on the planet is descended from the sons of Noah – a single family. Their descendants repopulated the earth. I believe that God instituted difference in language at the tower of Babel. This caused people of like language to separate from the whole and create smaller groups (subcultures.) Then these groups migrated and spread out all over the earth. But then they primarily married with only each other (like culture), producing children with a pre-disposition to the genetics of only that group and not the whole of human DNA . Is it any wonder that, over time, we could end up so different?

Just take a look at dog breeds for a moment. At one point in time, they all came from wolves. But over time with selective breeding (eugenics) it is possible to make thousands of very distinct breeds from miniature poodles and yorkies to St. Bernards and Great Danes. Some breeds are defined by color – others by muscle tone and bone structure. The same thing has happened to humanity.

The concept of “race” as it is expressed in the contemporary world is a flawed concept that I do not accept. We are all people. We are all from the same family. Many times, I am offended by the mere presence of the word. When I see the word on a form, I am tempted to write the word, “none.” There are no races. We are all humans made in the image of God.

So how do I teach my kids about skin colors or cultures you might ask. Easy. First, you should know that we never draw attention to skin color if we can avoid it. It’s not that we’re afraid of doing it – we are just intentionally trying for our kids not to think skin color first, no matter what. But if we do have to say it, we form our sentences the proper way – putting the emphasis on the nouns and not the adjectives.

Hypothetical Examples:

Instead of saying “the black man over there”, we would say to our kids, “that man over there with the brown skin”. And we don’t use this structure exclusively with only other colors, because we don’t use the term “white”, either. We say, “the girl with the peach skin.” Our girls know that they have “peach” skin.

If it is a female, we often say, “the girl with the pretty brown skin”, making sure there is a positive message to the color difference.

We had to use this wording recently with our 4 year old daughter. She often is playing with the same girl every day when I pick her up from day care. So I asked her, “Whos was that girl you were playing with? Is she your friend? What’s her name?” And she replied, “which one? I played with all the girls at school.” So I said, “the one in the pink shirt.” She didn’t remember. So I said, “she had braids in her hair.” She said, “a couple of them had braids in their hair, Daddy”, and named the possibilities. So I finally asked, “the one with the pretty brown skin, honey”, and she said “Oh! That’s my friend Jessica.”

On some days, I think the U.S. is getting closer to Dr. King’s dream – that “one day we will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” On some days, its painfully obvious how far we have to go. But I look in my children’s eyes and hope that our efforts will pay off. That they will grow up not knowing anything of “race”, only that different people have different colored skin – no big deal.

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One Comment on “Thinking about Race”

  1. collin Says:

    I like the way you deal with the subject! Especially within the context of how you’re bringing up your daughters. I once went to a Christian flavored talk by a woman who actually wanted to be called “black” because of her associated heritage with the word. Which is interesting as well… Almost a justification of the usage of the “black”, “white”, “mexican”, and “engine” labels.

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