Please stop pretending
I’ve always noticed skin color. It’s impossible not to. This person is darker than I am. That person is lighter than I am. I spent years trying to get a tan so that I could look better in my swim suit and not have pasty white legs.
Yes, I’ve noticed skin color for as long as I could remember.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I really don’t.
If I turned a blind eye to skin color, to hair color, to eye color, then I’m turning a blind eye to our differences. And we all have differences. We — each of us — are unique individuals with something to offer to the world.
But skin color doesn’t define a person.
What defines a person is what’s on the inside. Beneath the pigment. Beyond the muscles and veins. Deep within their soul and core.
What defines a person is how he or she responds to a situation. How he or she treats another human being. How he or she chooses to speak about a person of a different skin color when referring to that person in a story or conversation.
I’ve never understood the “nicknames” races give each other. I mean, I understand them in that I get their history and their origin. But I’ve never truly understood why they were necessary past whatever ridiculously heinous historical event or time period.
Just yesterday, as the news of Alton Sterling’s useless death was released, I asked my husband, “What year is this!?”
We discussed older members of our society and their inability to change their mindset. To change their vocabulary. To see others for more than the color of their skin.
I’ve never understood how anyone could use the “N” word. No one. In no moment do I see this word or phrase or suggestion to be appropriate. I can’t even type it. Nor do I see words like “cracker” or “spic” or “chink” or “apple” to make any sense.
But it continues to happen.
We can do better than this. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot do better than this.
There is no excuse.
Don’t tell me, “Well, he had a gun.”
Don’t tell me, “He has priors. It was easy to suspect him of something.”
Please stop pretending that there is any justification for judging someone based on their looks and jumping to a conclusion that ends in death.
There has to be a better way.
“Love one another.” That’s the better way. It’s the greatest commandment. The only commandment that really truly matters. It encompasses every bit of behavior that we should show on any given day.
When my students drive me insane? I am called to love them.
When my husband angers me because he didn’t do something I asked him to do? I am called to love him.
When someone is rude to me at the store and cuts me off in line? I am called to love them.
Jesus didn’t say, “Love one another but it’s ok to decide that this person isn’t a good person because his skin color is different from yours.”
He didn’t say, “Well, every now and again, someone will have a list of mistakes they made so it’s ok to not treat him like a human with basic human rights.”
Jesus didn’t tell us, “Just keep using those antiquated and extremely racist terms for people regardless of the situation or company.”
No. Jesus told us to “love one another.”
It’s that simple. There’s no greater commandment, He said.
So please stop pretending.
Stop pretending that there isn’t a problem with race in this country.
Please stop pretending that innocent lives are lost for any reason other than sheer hatred or discrimination.
Please stop pretending that the victim is probably to blame and that our leaders aren’t just as guilty as the rest of us.
We all do it. In some way, shape or form, we all judge and discriminate. To say we don’t would be a lie.
But not all of us follow through with a final blow that takes someone’s life. That injures someone so badly they’ll never use their body to its full potential again. That creates a domino effect of fear, hatred, violence.
Please stop pretending there’s nothing you can do about it.
We can all be better. We can all accept our differences, appreciate our differences, love each other’s differences. We can all embrace what makes our world so diverse and unique. Bless each other for the gifts we bring to the table. Teach our children to love someone for their differences not hate them or fear them because of their differences.
I have no clue what it’s like to be a non-white non-female American. I’ve only ever been me watching this world through a lens of privilege that — until recent years — I never even understood.
I’ve tried to resist the idea that anyone could truly be treated in such a way that they weren’t equal to me. I’ve resisted the idea that this is a prevalent problem and that my white-ness has given me any sort of “leg up” with any job, situation, circumstance.
Those rose-colored glasses have long been shattered. With the over and over reports of people — humans — dying at the hand of another person filling my news feed and news updates, I am sadly reminded that this world is not as good as I thought it was.
But in all of that not good lies the reality that my boys will never have the fears that other mother’s boys have. My daughters will benefit from the color of their skin in a way that other little girls won’t.
And it’s not right.
We should see each other’s differences. Appreciate them. Learn from them. Love them.
And that’s where it should end.Faith