With apologies to @jrm, I’m copying-and-pasting a comment that he made on Facebook that I thought was worth sharing. It begins with a couple of questions:
- How do you self-identify with respect to your own racial identity (knowing where you come from etc)? Really interested to hear you on this if you are happy to talk about it.
- A key issue for me with white supremacy is that its narrative, its intellectual history, its supporters and advocates are almost entirely found in the Christian tradition, stemming right back into medieval times. It is Christian theology that gave birth to so much of the problem we are witnessing…
Thanks for the excellent questions.
To answer your second question first: My critique must extend to the church, both historically and in the present. You are right about the racism and white supremacy in the Christian tradition; sometimes it is explicit but often it is implicit and systemic.
Your second question is more difficult to answer–not because I don’t have an answer, but because my answer may be misunderstood. My skin is, of course, “white” (I am Caucasian). But I do not identify as culturally/racially “white” (given what “white” means–and especially given what “white” feels like to me, during the just over two decades during which I have lived in the US).
I view race as a cultural construct. It is not biological–there is no significant genetic difference between people classified as different “races.” In fact, if you were to look at all the different facial features and the spectrum of colors on people over the globe, it would be very difficult to classify people into the specific racial groups that we often use.
So if I don’t view myself as (culturally) “white” (without denying the color of my skin or the systemic privilege that skin color brings in a country like the USA), what is my sense of identity?
I could say that I am a human being and I am a Christian. But ethnically/culturally, I am a Jamaican. As they say in Jamaica, “You can take the bwoy out of Jamaica, but you can’t take Jamaica out of the bwoy.”
I grew up as a minority in a predominantly black culture. Yes, I had a few white friends, but most of my friends (especially people I knew through church) were black or racially mixed (they might all have been called black in the US, but Jamaicans don’t typically us the word “black” to describe anyone who “deviates” from some supposedly white standard). So, while I understand how “race” works in the US, I had to learn this at a later stage of my life.
And as you know, I immigrated to Canada before I immigrated to the US. So, just to complicate things a bit more (and affirm my own hybridity), I sometimes say that I am “Jamericadian.”