Every time I see this phrase (as I just read it on another blog), it kind of cracks me up.
Now, I do sympathize. The reason people say this is because they don't want someone to make the house fall on them. They don't want to be racist, and they don't want to be called racists.
Usually, what they're actually saying is something like, "It is of some interest in my story to note a high level of melanin in this particular person's particular epidermis, but I don't want anyone to think I'm saying something bad or making a big deal out of it... though, I guess, in a way, I am making a deal. Just not a big deal. Well, not a racist big deal. So like I said, he happened to be black. Anyway..."
So as I say, while not unsympathetic, every time I hear it I picture myself as a black person hearing the speaker, and I stop him. "Now hold on just a minute. I don't just happen to be black. I'm black on-purpose! It's part of a very deliberate, meticulously-crafted plan! It took thousands of years of breeding for me to be black! Don't you dismiss it as a just-happened-to-be thing!"
Hopefully, nobody would be that mean, though I bet my (very deliberately) black readers are chuckling. Like you, I long for the day when we can just talk with each other, and not all be walking on egg-shells. You don't have to say "so I was talking to that sister who just happens to be a redhead, and..."
My mental image is of some guy who's walking down the street, minding his own business, mind a thousand miles away from his own skin-color, when suddenly wham! He's black! He just happens to be black! Shazam.
Because of course we could legitimately be deeply theological about it. Truth is, nobody "just happens to be" what he is. All the beautiful colors on God's palette — red and yellow, black and white, and all the variations — are part of God's sovereign and meticulous plan. If He made the blind and the sighted, the hearing and the deaf (Exod. 4:11), then surely he made all the epidermal hues as well. Nobody "just happens to be" what he is, in the final analysis.
Yours for less tension in communication,