This is the last post I plan to do about ethnicity and evangelicalism for a while.
i) For several reasons, there's a point after which I tune out these discussions. In case you're wondering, I have in mind groups and individuals like Anthony Bradley, Thabiti Anyabwile, Reformed Margins, RAAN, &c. This includes some white representatives like Alan Noble, Ligon Duncan, and Russell Moore who echo the same clichés.
That's in part because the way the discussion are framed is so predictable, stereotypical, and repetitive. They're all reading from the same script. Same categories, classifications, catchphrases.
By the same token, there's no difference, at that level, between secular discussions and so-called evangelical discussions. In my experience, the evangelical minorities who talk about this derive their analytical and historical framework from leftwing academics.
The very academic character of the debate makes me wonder if these minority spokesmen aren't out of touch with the ethnic communities on whose behalf they presume to speak. In reality, their people group isn't their particular race or ethnicity, but their professors and colleagues. It's very elitist and topdown.
ii) Another reason is that these spokesmen insist on assigning everyone a racial cubicle. Having assigned whites a caucasian cubicle, they then complain that whites suffer from an insular perspective. White privilege and all that. First they put you in a racial cubical, then they attack you for living in a racial cubicle. Well, I never asked, or consented, to be put in a racial cubicle in the first place.
This is one of the paradoxes of identity politics. You first divide people, then spend the rest of your time on the need to build bridges. You create a problem in order to solve the problem.
In fact, in identity politics, you don't want to solve the problem. Rather, the point is to foment and maintain racial animosity to exploit voting blocks.
iii) Apropos (ii), the discussion is so dictatorial. I must go into the racial cubical I've been assigned to. I must submit to that as the only acceptable starting point.
iv) Now racial and ethnic differences can be both genuine and interesting. Different ethnicities can have different customs, outlooks, and national characteristics. There are minority stand-up comedians who not only parody their own ethnic group, but parody other ethnic groups.
But my problem is, in part, with the a priori character of identity politics. Instead of just letting people be whatever they are, the spokesmen insist on assigned seating. You must have a stereotypical experience corresponding to the people group we assign you to.
v) Let's take a comparison. Suppose you have teenage boys who belong to a community of hunters and ranchers. Let's say they're all caucasian. They spend most of their time with horses and cattle, or hunting game.
Now, when they hang out at the local cafe, what defines their people group? What's the basis of their common self-identity? Is it their ethnicity? Is it the fact that they're all white?
Surely not. Rather, it's their livelihood and lifestyle as hunters and cowboys. That's their mutual frame of reference.
Now let's vary the illustration. Suppose they aren't all white. Suppose some are white, black, Tibetan, and Latino. Needless to say, there's nothing uniquely caucasian about hunting and ranching.
When these ethnically diverse teenage boys hang out at the local cafe, don't they have pretty much the same common bond as the all-white group I used in the initial hypothetical?
Conversely, suppose we compare this group to an all-white (or all-Asian) group of kids in hi-tech urban environment, where they hang out at the video arcade. Doesn't the ethnically heterogeneous group of hunters and cowboys have far more in common with each other than white hunters and cowboys have in common with the ethnically homogeneous (i.e. white) gamers in the big city? Is the people group they relate to based on ethnicity–or lifestyle and livelihood?
vi) I think it's safe to say that for most folks, their defining relationships are family members. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins. Isn't that more central to their self-identity than race and ethnicity?
(That's the default frame of reference. In a culture of broken homes or mobility, where relatives live far apart, that may weaken the natural bond.)
Of course, it's usually the case that their relatives belong to the same race. But what makes your relationship with your mother or father a defining relationship isn't that you two belong to the same racial people group, but that these are your parents. It's not membership in a racially generic people group, but the unique familial bond.
vii) Conversely, friends, unlike family, are chosen. We can choose to associate with members of whatever people group we please. And we don't have to identify with a group at all–we can just related to individuals. Friendship is individualistic. Friendships may cut across people groups.
Friendship is often based on different kinds of commonalities. You like the same things. You share similar beliefs and values. You have natural rapport. In that respect, two people of the same race may have nothing in common.
I rebel against the simplistic, reductionistic view of common self-identity centered on race and ethnicity. That's a demonstrably false overgeneralization.