Thursday, July 14, 2016

so you think you're white

What does that mean exactly?

If you're referring to the color of your skin, let's be honest — "white" is not the most accurate descriptor. White stands at one extreme of the color spectrum, and black at the other. Yet every human being I know falls somewhere in the middle — a rainbow of rich hues: peach and olive and tan and brown, which my set of 24 colored pencils cannot adequately represent. By labeling ourselves "black and white," we polarize, forcing everyone to one side or the other.

White is not a skin color (even for albinos).
White is not an ethnicity.
It's a way of organizing society, and it's so pervasive that it has changed what we think we are seeing.
A month ago this had not yet occurred to me.
But I'm over being white.

If it matters to you, I'm an American of Dutch descent. What little skin pigment I have has gathered itself into a thousand freckles on my arms and legs and face, defying categorization.
Above all, I'm human. Made as the image of God.
And so are my brothers and sisters across the pigment spectrum.
Every one of them is his image.

Language matters.
When we assign a label to something we place it in relation to other things.
We say what it is not.
In these challenging times, where emotions run high, let's choose our words carefully.
A word aptly spoken can open up new avenues for dialogue or it can dig trenches and build walls.

From now on, I'm human.


  1. love your comments. Have you read, Old Turtle and the Broken Truth?

    1. Thanks, Bill! No, I haven't read it, but I just requested it from our public library. Thanks for the tip!