When we got our Census forms in the mail the other day, I looked them over and thought "Oh, this looks pretty simple." For each member of the family, I needed to supply name, age, and...race?
The race question made me hesitate for a minute. I was kind of tempted to check "other" and fill in the blank "human," but after a little thought, I decided that I wanted to represent for my multi-ethnic babies. So I checked both "white" and "black" under each of my sons' names, feeling thankful that at least I could check more than one box, an option that didn't exist as recently as the 1990 Census.
I've tried a few times to explain "race" to Elijah, and there's something about seeing things through a five-year-old's eyes that makes you realize how ridiculous it all is. I try to explain what it means to be black, and how most people would probably call him black; and as the words are coming out of my mouth, I'm thinking, he's not going to understand this because it doesn't make any sense. And sure enough, he looks at me blankly, then tells me about how he is kind of lightish brown, Noah is darkish-lightish brown, Daddy is all-the-way-dark brown, and Mama is brighter brown, by which I think he means lighter brown.
Now if I can't even explain race to him, how am I going to explain racism? Not that I haven't tried--for instance, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I tried to explain who MLK was; but in order to explain what he stood for, I have to explain what he stood against; and it's all just so ridiculous. "Back in the day a lot of white people thought that black people shouldn't enjoy the same privileges they did." "But why, Mama?" "Uh, um, I don't know, because people are stupid?" Except that I can't say that, because we don't call people stupid in our house. :p
I was thinking about this again today as I came across a couple of articles about the Census and race (here's an example). I also came across this site: onehumanrace.com, which argues from a Biblical standpoint that "there is one race, the human race," an argument I've heard before from Mr. Voddie Baucham, and with which I'm inclined to agree.* What I hadn't realized before perusing this site was the connection between race theory and evolutionary theory. This site is also strong on the topic of interracial marriage. I highly recommend that y'all check it out. :)
*I'm not saying that we need to be "color-blind" or that we should give up labeling ethnic groups entirely--I think it's equally silly to pretend that there are no differences between us at all. Of course we have our cultural differences, and I think that we should make an effort to learn about those differences and to appreciate them. And I think we need to be conscious of the fact that we tend to be afraid of people who are different from us, and be careful that we don't allow those fears to stop us from reaching out to those people. Why do I feel like I'm being preachy? Maybe because I am? *sigh* Okay, I give up, no more blogging about race.