When I was a little girl, one of my favorite summer time activities was coloring. My grandmother watched my sister and me while our parents worked. She didn’t have air conditioning so coloring was a good activity to stay cool. I can still remember getting a new set of crayons for the summer. The jackpot was when I could get the 64 pack with the built in sharpener on the back (smile). So many colors to choose from to create a plethora of masterpieces each day. The crayons were like little soldiers waiting to be called on for duty. Crisp, clean papers encircled the sticks with the name of the color printed on the side. Each one having the perfect point to get you started. If I close my eyes, I can still smell them. Ahhhh….
Having that big pack of crayons was important. You had all of the hues at your fingertips to make your picture or coloring page to your exact specifications.
I have so many friends that are becoming grandparents. It’s been fun to watch their excitement. All of the pictures on social media counting down the months and letting you know how big the baby is getting are fun to peruse. From blueberry, to apple, to acorn squash, to honeydew melon and lots of things in between. But the thing I see them get the most excited about is the revealing of the gender. They do this in many different ways. Some have cakes made with the pink or blue icing in the center declaring whether it’s a boy or girl. I’ve seen balloons popped with pink or blue confetti spilling out revealing what was to come. I’ve seen firework type cannons shooting out billows of pink or blue smoke to announce the news. In all of these scenarios…
Another way that color comes into play in our lives is with sports. Here in Maryland we say we bleed orange in the summer for the Orioles, and purple in the winter for the Ravens. On any given Sunday during football season, you can tell who someone is cheering for just by observing the color they are wearing. Here in Maryland we even have purple Fridays during football season to get everyone excited for the game on Sunday.
Another thing that you see on social media right now are the freshly graduated seniors declaring with pride what college they are attending in the fall. You can usually see them in a t-shirt or sweatshirt with the name of the school printed in big letters splayed across their chest in you guessed it…their school colors…
If color matters in all of these fun, but in most cases trivial things…how much more does or should color matter when it comes to the color of one’s skin?
I don’t think I need to tell you what is happening in our country right now. It saddens me to my core. We have so much to learn! I’ve sat with this for some time because so much has already been said about it. I guess this is my way of documenting my thoughts at the time. My hope is that when I see this next year or at least in the years to come I will be able to see changes that have taken place.
Just like the church doesn’t have to condemn gay people from the pulpit for them to get the message, one doesn’t have to be outright taught racism for us to have some tendencies towards it. I definitely grew up with preconceived notions about black people. It took me time to work through them. I think the majority of people don’t want to be racist (of course there are always the exceptions). I also think that most people don’t even realize that they may have racist ideas.
I think people hear the word racist or racism and immediately become defensive. I see it time and time again. Communication gets completely shut down. People stop listening. Even if those words aren’t used just the idea gets people so worked up that they can’t see the pain the other person is experiencing. We once again have people arguing whether or not they are right and the human experience gets stomped on in the process.
One way that I’ve seen this when engaging in this topic is the statement that black lives matter. I’ve seen so many people respond to this with all lives matter. I posted something on my FB page that explained that when someone says black lives matter it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. We know that all lives matter it’s just that black lives need our help because they are being hurt. I had someone go on and on about the Black Lives Matter Movement. I told this person I wasn’t referring to any movement. I was referring to people’s lives. They went on to call me names. I couldn’t convince this person to look at human life. All they saw was a movement.
Yes all lives matter. Of course they do! Our society, however, does not treat people as if all lives matter.
There have been some examples of Jesus on this topic floating around the internet. One example is the beatitudes. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” the crowd doesn’t respond “all lives are blessed!” When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” the crowd doesn’t respond “all lives are blessed!” Jesus declares these people blessed precisely because they never have been. Their society never blessed them. If you don’t see a disparity in how black people are treated in certain circumstances, I’m going to ask you to look harder. The other example that has been given is Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost. That doesn’t mean the 99 aren’t valuable or loved by the shepherd. It simply means that they aren’t in trouble and don’t need him at the moment.
I went to a seminar at a church about two years ago and the topic was racism. I think I even wrote about it here. I was sickened by what I learned. I left so distraught for the people of Baltimore. I learned about systems that were put into place years ago that are still in place today. I encourage you to look up things like red lining, blockbusting, and systemic racism. Learning about these things will give you an idea of what white privilege means. Mention that and people lose their minds. “But I worked hard for what I have. No one handed me what I have!” are their mantras. It’s not what it means. I would offer that if things like that offend you dig deep to understand why.
We have lost the art of empathy. We don’t listen. We jump to conclusions. I could go on, but I won’t. I certainly have tons more to learn. I’m sure I still have things that need to be unlearned. It’s a process. I’m just so disheartened by people’s reactions.
I hear, “Let’s not make it about race.” We can only do that when everyone is treated equally. “I don’t see color,” sounds nice. I believe for most people that comes from a good place, but God did not create the multitude of shades of our skin for us to ignore them. They are beautiful!
Color matters…and right now love matters more than we can imagine.