I (a white person) proposed The Race Game [source: Thandeka’s Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God in America, 1999] to a (majority but not exclusively white) planning committee for a major LGBT Christian conference in 2003. They had asked me to bring a proposal about what they might do to confront the legacy of racism at a past event.
As I remember it, I (a white person) was told by older, more experienced folk that my proposal was both too naive and too radical. My proposal was set aside for other tactics and approaches.
However, I (a white person) remain convinced that The Race Game, as uncomfortable as it may be, is an essential baby step in beginning to deal with white supremacy. We (especially, but not exclusively white people) must make the invisible visible and grapple with what we find within ourselves when we do.
Here’s how The Race Game works:
The Race Game… [has] only one rule. For the next seven days, [you] must use the ascriptive term white whenever [you] mention[ed] the name of one of [your] Euro-American cohorts. [You] must say, for instance, ‘my white husband, Phil’, or ‘my white friend Julie’, or ‘my lovely white child Jackie’…
Thandeka, Learning To Be White, page 3
[edited for assignment]
Fifteen years later, I (a white person) sometimes wonder how the world might be different if that (majority white) planning committee had taken a bold risk to shake things up a bit. I (a white person) also wonder if my learning to talk about whiteness without shame set me on the road to be at odds with my (especially white) elders and peers over and over again.
Telling the truth shouldn’t be such a radical act among liberal Christians or social justice advocates. I believe The Race Game taps into deep seated issues we’re otherwise adept at avoiding while also flying in the face of white supremacy (and cis-hetero-patriarchy and Christian supremacy) at every turn — even though it’s nothing more complicated than telling the truth.
Playing The Race Game is a really simple proposition, but it invites us to learn (again) to see what is present among us and between us without flinching — and thus creates an opportunity for us to grapple with our own fear and shame about our own involvement in white supremacy.
Will you accept this invitation? Thandeka’s invitation? My (a white person)’s invitation?
Will you come and play The Race Game with us?
#AwkwardlyYours #OtherWiseEngaged #YouAreLoved