Will We Ever Get Beyond Race?
Image: ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty

I was raised in a largely white culture. I even thought I was white until a classmate directly informed me that I am Chinese. The revelation was puzzling, given that I am Korean. More strangely, I am a Korean who can speak hardly a word of Korean. The only word I know is the one for "dummy," which my relatives often called me: bah-boh.

And now? My family and I live in a largely African American neighborhood where I serve as interim pastor of a multiethnic church in urban Washington, D.C. I'm not sure how to identify myself anymore. I'm a vaguely Asian person who grew up listening to Pearl Jam and trying to play hacky sack, but who sings Fred Hammond on Sunday morning. I think that makes me "post-racial."

I first heard the phrase in January 2009, during the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I remember watching the event with deep pride and rising hope. Commentators noted that the moment marked our transition to becoming a post-racial nation, where race no longer played the divisive role it has throughout our history. We were finally beyond the whole race thing, they said. Although I brimmed with excitement, I also knew that this analysis was hopelessly optimistic. The election of our first black president would not put the issue of race to rest.

Fast-forward four years, and without a doubt we are still very much a racial society. There is no clearer evidence of this than Trayvon Martin.

Seemingly clear at first, the facts of the shooting were quickly muddied by political pundits and media moguls on all sides of the spectrum. An unarmed black youth, carrying nothing more than Skittles and iced tea—or an imposing teenager who thuggishly assaulted a man? An overzealous and prejudiced ...

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Will We Ever Get Beyond Race?
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