The Color of My Skin
I am not white. Not once in my life have I been white. I have always been aware of my race/ethnic background- my ancestors, my language, my culture, my traditions, my relatives. I believe that white is not an accurate description.
After some research, I’ve found that our race is called Nordic Race. True, it’s a northern European sub-race, but that’s the correct term. Nordic Race.
Since race distinctions have been changing over the past century, it’s no wonder people need to think about the proper terms. Sixty years ago an African-American was classed as a negroid. Perhaps sixty years from now they’ll have a
new name for our Nordic Race. Though I do not believe it will be white.
When my oldest son was 5 years old, we were visiting LA. He was a tow-headed charmer, with a life goal to ”make friends with everyone in the world.” As we stood in a long, tedious line waiting there, my son turned to the tall man behind us and asked, ”I’m Lukas. Would you be my friend?” It was his usual line with strangers he took a liking to. What surprised me was that African-American man’s answer. He smiled at my son, almost choked up with tears and answered, ”I’d love to be your friend. You’re the first white boy who has ever said that to me.”
Yes, it was a touching moment, but quickly broken by a soft, smiling answer, ”White? I’m not white.” Looking down at his arm, my son continued, ”I think I’m a kind of pinkish-beige.”
If you look at that son of mine now, no one ever sees a ”white boy”. Now they see a tall, lean Swedish-American with his long blond pony-tail, bright blue eyes and gentle manner.
Today, I believe, ”white” is used as a blaming word- to put guilt onto a group of people, based solely on the color of their skin and not on any individual acts. ”White people” killed the Indians. ”White folks” kept Africans as slaves. ”White men” have corrupted our democracy with greed. Not to mention living like ”white trash” or being a ”white boy”.
I am offended when someone calls me white, for white does not accurately describe my language, my family, my culture, my traditions or my genetic pre-disposition. Additionally, I object to being lumped into a group based on my skin color and consequently judged and found guilty of crimes against humanity. As I see it, only a racist would judge me based on the color of my skin.
Words are important. I believe it’s important to choose words of race wisely to be both accurate and non-judgmental. For me, white is both insulting and incorrect. So, next time you use the term white, remember that it can be a racial slur, too. I know what I am, so don’t judge me by the color of my skin. I am not white.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.