The Gray Race
"This is a song a that I think talks about racism and effects of industrialism. I would like to think that Greg was talking about making a new race, the gray race, so that there will be no longer conflict about the concentration of melanin in your skin. However, I'm afraid that he's talking about how the world has changed with industrialism to now see the world in gray and not black and white. Now all emotions and expressions are computerized and are nothing but numbers in a binary system. We're taking a new route that is like nothing the Earth has ever seen (or so we think) toward space and the digitalized world. I think this is a tough song to explain."
"I read in an interview with Greg that this song is about the fact that animals can only see in black and white (run or fight, sleep or eat) while humans are the only creatures blessed with being able to see shades of Gray. This means that humans can use reason when making a decision and not just rely on our instincts. The song then goes on to say that as we create more technology in our world, our instincts are becoming more important than our intelligence, even though our intelligence created that technology. People seeing in black and white prosper more than those still seeing in shades or gray. Thus 'the gray race shrivels trapped inside the world it creates, its black and white.' At the end of the song he says each individual has a 'dilemma'. Should he remain part of the gray race and keep his emotions, compassion, and reason? Or should he live off his instincts and stop at no means to get ahead?"
"The Gray race is stating what our society has let itself become. Instead of being a prosperous, colorful society we have belittled ourselves to a bland, gray race."
"I think Bad Aeronuts (sic) got it in the end. The whole song talks about everything becoming digital. Black and white sounds like a reference to bar codes, where the black and the white represent the ones and zeros of the binary numbers all computer languages use. Seeing that the album is copyright '96, it would make sense - as the 'digital explosion' was underway. Everyone was rushing to get on the internet, and instead of going out and making new friends and meeting new people, people went to chatrooms and began to base their lives in a digital world - a world that cannot sustain them in any way - hence they are shrivelling from their lack of substanance (sic)."
"Everyone's ideas seem to make sense but Captain's I believe is the correct one. Greg Graffin explained the song and the whole album actually on the Bad Religion Official Website in one of the Bad Times newsletters. Go there and read that section to clear up any misunderstandings that you may have."
"I have personally talked to the band of bad religion, and the said that it is about how dull the human life is, with all of our technological advancements and that we do nothing anymore other that sit on our fat butts all day."
"I always kind of associated this song with racism; how we're all the same on the inside, but all we can see is the colour (the gray race shrivels..), thus we judge. But now I have also come to realize that technological advancements are also an issue here. By shoving all of this information down our throats, corporations all vying for us to use their products are turning us into thoughtless consumer junkies. It seems that we do not even have to think for ourselves anymore; our personalities and free thought are what's trapped inside of us. Ideas come in many shades of gray, but bar codes only come in black and white. Both of these points are our 'dilemmas'."
"I think the meaning of the song has already be pointed out magnificently by the others' reading of Greg's words (remember it's always better to refer to the author rather than speculating). I just wanted to expand a little bit on it and pull the rope further. This may be one of the band's deepest songs. It explains the danger of utilitaristic science, which can make their users go back to an almost primitive stage. Today it seems that science and knowledge is not a goal in itself, but rather a medium to be more comfortable, quicker and more efficient. When used this way, technology can get to the absurd of neglecting one's intellectual capability. The digital vs. instinctive/analogic point of view is introduced very wisely: digital means simpler, faster, but that simplicity can betray reason and go the opposite direction all the way to stupidity, specially when the creators of technology are only a reduced proportion of the populace. As many others, this song c! ould be seen as an alarm sign to the scientific community, who took the empiricistic, utilitaristic pace back in XVIII over rationalism and conscious progress. The link between neoliberalism and science may well be one of the future's big problems."