What Will It Take to Repair What Race Broke? | Sojourners

What Will It Take to Repair What Race Broke?

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Race broke the world.

What if Plato had never pontificated, in his Republic, on inherent social status — pre-ordained lots in life — and called it race? What if Linnaeus never slapped the bad science of colorized human hierarchy onto Plato’s concept? What if the highest Virginia court did not racialize indentured servitude in the 1640 case of three runaway indentured servants — two white, one black? What if they did not sentence the white servants to four extra years of servitude while sentencing the black servant, John Punch, to servitude for life, making Punch the first official slave in the U.S, and basing that enslavement on race? What if Benjamin Franklin did not recommend to the Crown that America be leveraged as a colony to preserve the white race? And what if U.S. Congress did not enshrine its sincere belief in white supremacy through the adoption of the Three-Fifths Compromise in 1787? And what if three years later Congress did not reinforce that white supremacy through passage of the Immigration Act of 1790 — the act that gave the power of naturalization, the power to vote, the power of dominion — exclusively to free white men?

What if the grand spiritual lie of race had never been told — the lie that some people groups were created to rule while others were created to be ruled? And what if that lie had never been believed and adopted into law?

And what if millions of African engineers, carpenters, farmers, leaders, artists, and defenders of their people had not been removed from their homeland?

And what if 20-30 million of the stolen were not overcome by the travails of the Middle Passage? What if they had lived out their lives contributing to the well being of their African nations?

And what if the self-proclaimed supreme race had paid for the 250 years of free labor it extracted from nearly 15 generations of African descendants?

What if these were not our foundations? What if these foundations did not lay the groundwork for philosophical and legal frameworks that created separate and unequal schooling for the next 150 years? What if they did not lay the foundations for racialized de-facto exclusions from the Homestead Act and the G.I. Bill. And what if they did not lay the foundations for environmental and climate injustice that causes heightened hardship in communities with less healthcare and fewer resources. And what if they did not lay the foundations for 1.5 million black men to go missing from black communities, families, churches, and civic structures — prized booty of America’s racialized Drug War and a new source of near free labor for American corporations within state and federal prisons.

Race broke the world — or maybe it made it. Maybe race did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Would America enjoy its current status as the most powerful economy in the world without the construct of race? Would the people identified as “white” enjoy their current rates of economic prosperity without the historic and current subjugation of others through the construct of race? The answer is no.

At the heart of the Trumpette’s cries to “make America great again” is fear — fear of the imminent loss of propped-up white prosperity. This fear is not illogical. It is not irrational. It is real. If the prop of racial hierarchy falls, then so does the basis of America’s economic “greatness.” If racial hierarchy is repented, there will (and must) be cost.

Repentance is about the restoration of wellness to all. What would repentance of the lie of white supremacy look like in the U.S.? What would it require? And what will it take to repair what race broke among us?