Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's Just Hair and Skin

Racism is ugly. It's so tragic in it's societal ramifications. It's so wounding personally. I was astounded by such a simple observation the other day. My daughter started first grade. I had asked her if she made any new friends. She told me the name of a fellow first grader. She told me, "her hair is fake." We laughed because she was talking about a young precious African American girl in her class. My daughter went on to tell us how her friend had cute little corn rows that she liked and then "she had fake hair." She liked it.

My wife went on to tell her how African American people have skin that is darker and hair that looks and feels very different than our little blonde headed student. My daughter said something that every person in the world needs to hear. She said, "Why? It's just hair and skin." She couldn't understand how hair and skin can be that much different among people. It wasn't a big deal.

Never did a thought occur that the difference in the color of skin was wrong. Never did she ever think that her classmate was more or less of a being because her hair and skin was different. This is not by accident. From birth our daughter has been taught that all people are precious. All people mean something. They are valuable. This is just like the fact that racism is not an accident. Racism is passed from one generation to another. It is incubated in self-absorption and it is bred in hatred.

It is unbelievable that people who say they are Christians would intentionally take a racist stance on anything. Last time I checked, the Garden of Eden where humanity was born, is home to dark-skinned people all over the place. Jesus was a Middle Eastern, olive / dark-skinned man. The Bible has ancient record of past saints involved in interacial marriages.

But perhaps racism is not as far as it goes. Maybe it's a symptom of something else. Look at the broken city of New Orleans. When the floods came the looters began, I watched the news. There were hispanic-looking looters, there were black looters and yes, there were white looters. We are broken. Humanity at its core, has something wrong with it. There is a bent toward the wrong that is in all of us. It is in me. It is in you.

The same bent in someone that thinks people of a different color are somehow lesser people than they are is the same bent that made me want to cheat on a test in school or not say anything when someone gives me more than the correct change, embelish the numbers on the tax return. The same thing that is the cause of racism is the same thing that all of us have and we prove it every time we do wrong. When there are no rules or laws we are at our worst. The Bible calls it sin. Call it what you want we all have it. We don't want to follow the rules, we want to do our own thing no matter what, no matter who it hurts.

The prophet Isaiah said that "all of us have left God's paths to follow our own..." That sums it up. We want to go our own way. We're selfish.

So the next time we feel self-righteousness enough to malign a race of people because of what we saw them do on the news, remember the wrong we have ALL done but just never got caught. We're all human. We're all made of the same stuff. It's just hair and skin.

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