This I Believe – a Person’s Color

Laura - Scottsboro, Alabama
Entered on November 19, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: question, race

During the recent Elections there was great excitement about the possible election of the “First Black Person” or a “Person of Color”.

A “Person of Color” was a new phrase to me. Quite frankly I wasn’t certain what it meant. The candidate’s father was “Black” and his mother was “White”. I pondered why the candidate was considered Black versus White.

I wondered who wrote the rules on these labels. Where were the mathematical equations that defined a person to be black or a person of color? I decided to present my questions to the Oracle of our times. I “Googled It”.

My Oracle provided various and conflicting rules and definitions.

I discovered the U.S. coined “One Drop Rule”. If you family tree contained one person of African ancestry, you were considered Black, even though your family tree may be largely constructed of European, American Indian, or Asian descent.

A person of color was anyone who was “Not White”. This sent me down the next worm hole and I Googled “Who is White”. There were court rulings in this instance that stated you were “Not White” if you were “Half-White” or “Native American”. White is Not Hawaiian, Not Chinese, Not Japanese. Then there were conflicting court cases that stated “Asian Indians are White” and “Asian Indians are Not White; “Arabs are not White”, “Arabs are White”.

I am a rule follower by nature, but these color rules were contradictory and incomplete. The ones that existed suspect! If the rules of the past could not provide clear guidance on my “color” questions, then I needed to search elsewhere.

I considered what I had learned in school. The color “Black” was the absence of color and “White” was the equal combination of all colors. By that definition a “White” person was really the “colored person’. Frustration raked my brain. I needed a mental balm, a respite for these ruminations.

I rushed for a mind numbing stroll through my local Mega-Mall. I allowed the thousands of subliminal marketing messages to anesthetize my higher analytical cortex. My Hunter/Gatherer instincts kicked in. As I searched for my big kill, my bargain-buy, I tracked the herd of moving bodies flowing around me for possible competition. My attention was captured by the kaleidoscope of colors: Bodies of Pale Pearl, Honeyed Amber, Bronze, Teak, and deepest Ebony.

Ever looking for the stray and different animal, I latched onto color distinctions, which simmered before my eyes: Pale Blond, Gray & White, White & Blue-haired Old Ladies, Cornsilk & Wheat, Strawberry & Burgundy wine, Brown Rice, Milk Chocolate, Midnight darkness and even Inky-Indigo-Blue.

Beyond these shades my eyes tracked blue, green, and brown eyes, and chameleon eyes that change colors like children change toys: Brown-green, blue-green, yellow-brown, and gray. My heightened senses were overwhelmed by this prismatic display. This Colossus show of color evoked memories of something marvelous and precious, God’s multi-hued rainbow, one color blending-fading into the next.

Hmm, God’s rainbow, could I find my answers here? He could have created the rainbow in shades of blue & green to calm and reassure us. He could have created it in yellows and red to remind us that Morning follows Days-End. However in His great wisdom, He included all the colors, because only when all colors are present, each complimenting the other was God’s Glory truly displayed.

I was freed. Peace soothed my heart and confusion fled. I realized that the color of a person’s skin, their label, does not define them. The true color of a person is determined by their Kindness, their Words, and their Actions. The true color of a person is revealed by their Character. The old phrase was true, “You can’t tell a book by its cover”; nor can you tell a person’s color by their skin.

Was the Candidate’s Color irrelevant, no. But as significant and pivotal as this election was in American History, was the importance of our Nation’s election of an individual of character, forethought and wisdom to lead us in our Hour, our Day, and our Era of Need

Fortunate are the blind, for they are not swayed by man’s exterior, a man’s label, rather by the qualities within the man.

This I believe.