I'm Not White, You're Not Black

I’m not colorblind when it comes to race, so why say “I’m not white”? 

Race has changed in this country, and just because there are no extremely large protests or as many riots doesn’t mean that the tension is gone. If your skin in darker than mine is, you’ve most likely had to deal with prejudice, being stereotyped or labeled, and felt oppressed beneath the weight of pride pushed on you from those with lighter skin. I’ve seen this type of judgment come from people within my family and Marla’s family, so it’s not something I can say I have no connection to.

People whose skin is very close to the shade of mine, and closer than I would have hoped, take part in making racial division last.

Proud of “being white”, some proud of “being black” – when REALLY they don’t even know what they mean. After spending over two years (from day one) being a part of an intentionally multi-ethnic church family, I can honestly say I am starting to understand some of what the problem is. Before I was this close of friends to people with different shades of skin I couldn’t see or hear what they felt. Or even have the privilege of sitting down with them and listening without an agenda.

Stereotyping others or even placing yourself into a group deserves quite a bit of the blame. When you’re filling out a profile about yourself and check the “caucasian” box, is that what you really are? Does the pigment of your skin perfectly match all of the others that mark that box? I’ve been to Southeast Asia, holding young girls who admire my skin, in my arms. Girls who tell my wife they wish they had her skin. I’ve spent time in the country, following trucks with large confederate flag stickers across their back window – as if previous wars or your geographic location is something to be proud about.

Division starts when you think you know who you are. My friend Delaine made this clear to me, in a small diverse group discussion we had recently over the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case. Her request was that her friends with lighter skin not come into these discussions thinking they know everything, or just taking our judicial system and letting the “facts” only matter.

Her skin might be darker than mine, but it didn’t seem simple for her to group herself with everyone else in the room whose skin was. Maybe because some people look at this melting pot of a country and world that we live in and it’s simpler for them to divide it into small groups. People of similar skin pigmentation don’t always originate from the same place or fit as easily into a group as you might think! I know quite a few people who look like me that I sure wouldn’t appreciate being grouped with for certain things.

My view on the case is not to best understand ALL of the facts. After lots of time, it seems even the jury had trouble with that. One thing cannot be forgotten, now that the verdict has been given. Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman is alive. One of them killed the other. No matter how you look at that, murder took place.

If you haven’t opened your eyes yet, the list of different “colors” keeps multiplying on those profile forms you’re filling out. When God created Adam – and then Eve, it was probably much simpler for them to find common ground. As the colors continue to mix (which is a great thing), prejudice, labeling, and stereotyping aren’t going away. The first step to getting rid of those evils is to take a new step in understand where you really stand in this huge sea of diversity. Can you accept people who aren’t just like you? Do you try to become someone you are not, or maybe you don’t even know who you want to be?

Some make leaps that leave you confused. I’m to blame when it comes to this. I’ve tried to label some young lighter-skinned people as “wanna-be’s” (trying to mimic the life of thugs whose skin is darker), or seeing darker-skinned people who rise into the upper class and labeling them as Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As if just because their skin is a certain shade means they should fit in a box. That’s not how God would see it. He would see them individually, without labeled walls surrounding them (music, lifestyle, finances, sports, education, etc.).

The truth is, you’re no better or worse than every other person God has created, and no matter what you do or what groups of people you join hands with, God sees you as a single individual whose purpose is to love your neighbor (AND your enemies – who hopefully are only enemies because of a choice they’ve made). One of the two greatest commandments.

I guess I don’t agree that “birds of a feather should flock together.” The feathers continue to change, and we all don’t care enough about the other birds.