Update and Race
February 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
First, I’d like to apologize to the faithful few who read this blog for my lack of updates and posts. Since my last post in January, a lot has gone on: Sarah and I moved; I took a 3-week intensive class; I went on a road trip; I started a new semester; and lastly, I got sick.
Life as I’ve come to know it here is back on track and I’ve settled back down into a more “normal” routine. If you’d like to see some pics of the new place, we recently had a friend visit and she posted a few on her blog. Check them out here: Fashion and Tea
Shout out to Crystal Yuan: Happy Birthday and thanks for reminding me to update this blog.
Discursive Thoughts On My “Race”
I’ve been thinking a lot about race recently. This is a good thing, especially since I’m taking a class on race. Much like my degree, it has a pretentious sounding title: “Critical Race Theory as Theological Challenge*.”
Ethnically I’m Mexican with a dash of Welsh (I think). On paper I look white: my last name is Harris. Usually, however, when people see me they have no idea what I am. My skin color, hair length and style, facial hair length, and dress (all of which change often—except my skin color, that just changes with the seasons) don’t give any helpful clues; in fact, for most it just makes their guess that much more difficult. I’ve heard a variety of guesses: some that make sense and some that do not. But, I didn’t grow up in a “traditional” Mexican household. Though on paper I self-identify as Mexican/Hispanic/Latino (whatever box is available), it is safe to say that the Mexican-American community would agree that I’m not in touch with my roots.
Culturally I am not Mexican (or Welsh). I grew up listening to Hip-Hop. Cornel West describes himself as a blues man. Me? I’m a rap man. How I approach, interpret, express and understand the world and myself is, in part, formed by my deep connection to rap music. I don’t understand Spanish; I understand verse. But I’m not black. Hip-Hop is a black form of expression. This isn’t to say it’s an art form that only the African-American community can participate in and enjoy. That’s not true. However, I also know I can never be intrinsically linked to it, no matter how deep the connection goes.
Ecclesiastically I’m Chinese. Well, sort of. I spent the last 7 or so years before seminary worshipping in a Chinese church. My experiences there have greatly shaped what I think about the Christian faith and church. Every church is particular because people are particular. My conversion and theological foundations were, for the most part, formed in the particularity of an immigrant Chinese church in Irvine, CA. But, again, I was an outsider there as well. I was welcomed, supported, and loved by OCCEC in way that I hope to find wherever I end up next (especially if it’s back at OCCEC!). Yet, I’m not Chinese. I may have found a home there, but it wasn’t mine.
The above thoughts don’t really have much to do with the class. My papers will be about (the ever-present) white racism in the U.S. and what a theological challenge to white racism might look like. These are just some of my thoughts floating around the back of my head as I read. For some this class is hard because for the first time foundational myths are being dispelled: no, there is no such thing as “race,” it is purely a social construct. It is real in its consequences, but of no biological or genetic truth. Or for some this is the first time they’ve been told that they are heirs of white-privilege. There is anger too: many have been victims of racism. For me, it is hard because, other than being non-white, race has been an indistinct and shifting category in my world and upbringing.
*By far the best class of my 2011-2012 academic year.