I see that the white supremacists don’t like me:
To some extent, the white supremacist movement is a dumping ground for losers. However, it also represents a backlash to affirmative action and liberal assaults on “white privilege.”
How important is racial identity from a Christian standpoint?
1. Race qua race seems to be a natural adaptation to climatic variation. At that level, it’s a pretty trivial feature of self-identity or social identity.
To the degree that race becomes a more important feature of self-identity or social identity, that isn’t due to race qua race, but the incidental association of racial identity with other forms of identity.
2. There’s an obvious sense in which, for me to be a different race, I’d have to have different parents. In that sense, racial identity is essential to my self-identity. But it isn’t racial identity, per se, that’s essential to my self-identity. Rather, it’s only essential in the derivative sense that if I had different parents, I would be a different person. Here the differential factor is parentage, not race.
3. And even with respect to (2), it’s possible to be a biracial child.
4. Hypothetically speaking, it’s easy to conceive an SF scenario in which my racial characteristics are altered. Yet I’d still be the same person inside (as it were). The same mind, same brain, same memories, same parents, same formative experiences. So a change in racial identity wouldn’t entail a change in self-identity.
5. There’s also an obvious sense in which my self-identity is frequently bound up with my relatives: my siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, &c. We tend to be close to those we’re related to by blood. And, in many cases, that involves a degree of racial identity.
6. But that, too, is rather incidental. I can grow up with anyone. It could be a blood brother, half-brother, or stepbrother. Race isn’t intrinsic to the emotional bond.
7. Likewise, the fact that I’m close to my white parents or my white siblings doesn’t mean I’m close to your white parents or your white siblings. Being white doesn’t mean I related to you, even if you happen to be another white man or woman. You’re a perfect stranger to me. By contrast, my best friend might be a childhood friend of another race.
To be sure, there’s an attenuated sense in which all white folk are related to each other, but in that respect there’s an attenuated sense in which all human beings are related to each other.
And, of course, many people are estranged from their parents or siblings. Conversely, adopted kids may be much closer to their adoptive parents than their natural parents.
8. A more important sense in which racial identity can figure in self-identity involves the relation between race and culture. Social conditioning has a powerful influence on self-identity. And there’s often a correlation between race and culture.
Even so, that’s quite incidental. For example, it’s quite possible for a person of one race to become acculturated to a society with a different racial composition. Take the case of white children who were kidnapped by Indians and raised as Indians. They went “native,” as the saying goes.
9. In addition, many societies are racially and culturally diverse. Western civilization is an amalgam of different cultures. And America is a nation of immigrants. Under those circumstances, the correlation between race and culture is quite diffuse.
10. In this respect, Confederate racism is rather ironic since the old South was not a racially or culturally homogeneous society like Iceland. There was a crosspollination between black and white.
11. Up to this point I’ve found it convenient to speak of a person’s race. But, of course, race is a fluid identity. What race is Tiger Woods?
Racial differentiation ranges along a continuum. There’s no such thing as racial purity.
12. Modern white supremacy is the flipside of the hip-hop culture. Both subcultures represent reactionary and degenerate expressions of self-identity, grounded in a particular form of social-identity.
At one level, white pride is the logical counterpose to white guilt. But it’s only logical if you accept the premise of racial identity as a fundamental feature of self-identity.
And there’s something ironic about an obsession with racial self-consciousness. If you have to spend a lot of time second-guessing whether you’re white enough or black enough or whatever, then you’re playing a role rather than doing what comes naturally to you. Whether it’s a hip-hop “artist” or a contemporary Confederate, what we see on display is a lot of playacting as a substitute for genuine self-identity. It merely exposes the emotional insecurity of the individual. An identity crisis. The felt need to have your self-identity conferred on your by the group.
But from a Christian standpoint, our self-identity ultimately comes from God, not society.