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The Jazz Theologian

Racemyth

I found, "The Race Myth:  Why We Pretend Race Exists in America," by Joseph L. Graves to be a fascinating read.  In this book, Graves, deconstructs race by looking at its’ history and challenging long held assumptions, such as, blacks are superior athletes.

Did you know there is no scientific reason to keep stats or categorize according to race the way we do in America?

In 1986, scientist proposed to map the entire human genome.  Those working on the project remarked that, "race is not a scientific concept."  Meaning that it is not possible to tell what race somebody is at the genome level. We are all, "essentially identical twins at the level of the genome."

Yet we keep health statistics according to race.  Neighborhoods are generally divided according to race?  I know of two Presbyterian churches that are less than 5 minutes from each other. They agree theologically and use the same hymnal with the same style of music–the only difference between them is the hue of the skin of those who sit in the pews.

Joseph L. Graves ultimately concludes that race is strictly a social construct.  The category of skin color is as arbitrary as the color of ones hair and eyes or height for that matter.  Race was invented for a purpose and has become an integral part of American culture.

What do we do with this invention?  We know that it is responsible for untold pain but has it also produced good?  I believe that jazz was an unintended byproduct of race and we can develop a jazz-shaped faith if we understand the role that race played at the inception of jazz.

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