What’s the big deal with colour anyway? Please know that as you read this you’re probably going to bounce between agreeing with me, disagreeing with me or just being indifferent – and in all honesty either one of these responses is absolutely fine. Why? Because you are an individual, with your own point of view and perspective – I respect that.
I’ve spent the last few weeks browsing the inter web, reading instagram posts, listening and watching videos or podcasts about this precious topic of colour – and to be more specific, skin colour.
I’m not the kind of person that likes to respond or react in the moment – I’ve learned to wait while all the dust is swirling around the social spaces, with various forms of debris flying everywhere. I’ve learned that stepping into that is how you get hurt or end up doing the hurting, unintentionally. Unless it’s a fight worth dying for, I sit like a sniper and wait.
I’ve learned to wait like this from my husband. Wait, until the dust has settled and then take the time to look at the leftovers and see how I can sweep up or position myself in a place of being well informed and heal or build up and make an impact.
Also, having allowed myself the grace to process my own feelings and identify them for what they really are depending on what type of dust is flying around.
So, right now with the dust that is currently starting to settle – I still ask, what IS the big deal with colour anyway?
You know, the original definition of the word COLOUR is “the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light”
I ask you to read that again. Let it sit and sink in for a bit. In a utopian world – this is truth. This is what colour should be – but the world is not perfect, it’s filled with selfish, sinful human beings (like myself) – that have been conditioned to ‘reflect’ or ‘emit’ a certain way, based on our original introductions on/in this planet – we all call earth.
Based on that original, and thereafter, environment in which we were all uniquely cultivated in. Some are completely free, oblivious to the dangers – that others, have had to be taught to protect themselves from. Defenses that are taught in order to survive this tumultuous world we live in.
In light of all that is happening in our world and from my own personal history – I’ve come to realize that it isn’t the colour that’s the problem but the perspective.
Depending on WHO is looking through the lens determines the ACTION.
You see, innocence is real folks.
Colour blindness is real.
I can say this, why?
Because up until an innocent human being realizes differences, there is purity in thought, motive and heart.
This makes me mull over a scripture from a different perspective – “I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
I’m not saying we’re all doomed – but we need to change our perspective in order to embrace others like little children do.
Little people are taught how to respond to differences, they don’t see them until importance is placed on one/some thing more than the other. They start to recognize that something is better than the other based on how “those that are important to them” react.
For argument sake, this would be the parent, caregiver or teacher in their little worlds.
I have stewed over how my little voice, or being, can make an impact in this world – where colour is such a huge part of our lives. I mean, I could spread the canvas and add in fashion, looks/features, living conditions etc. All of these are something we have all been conditioned to think is right or wrong – more or less important – based on what or how WE choose to see.
Just to shed light or give a little example of where I’m going with this, I’m going to share a little personal story of mine.
I grew up in Zimbabwe when it was in its golden years – I went to a small private school because my parents hustled a way for us to go there. We were a middle class coloured (brown) family in an economy that did pretty well globally in the 80s and 90s.
We were privileged enough to travel to America – I remember being about 8 years old. We went to a small town to visit dear family friends that just so happened to be white. While we were with them we joined them at a church “pot luck” or “bring and share”. The event was at an indoor swimming pool – which was something I had never seen in my life and the best diving board, an avid swimming 8 year old could dream of.
I remember arriving and seeing this, people were all in the pool and immediately my sister and I stripped down to our swimming costumes and proceeded to jump into a decently populated swimming pool.
Upon our entry, the original inhabitants of the pool proceeded to get out – leaving us, two little brown girls, to swim at our leisure.
Because we didn’t know anyone, our first thought was, “wow! Their such nice people to have given us the whole pool to ourselves”
Obviously, in your adult brain and like my parents – they knew it wasn’t an act of kindness but rather one of ignorance and defensive response to the colour of our skin.
It is here that my parents had one of two ways to respond. They could have snatched us up and made a scene about how our colour shouldn’t matter and we don’t want to be a part of this society or event because we weren’t accepted for who we are……. legit right? Or do what they actually did and that is the following.
They let us swim until it was time to eat (while all of the people were staring) and in all honesty – I thought the people were just impressed with my mad swimming skills – because I was good (as a side note)
When the time came for us to eat, they (my parents) had already mingled a little – introduced themselves to the people and had started to “educate” the ignorant crowd.
They told them that we were from Zimbabwe, Africa and why we were there. The people then warmed to us but in all honesty, did we change their perspective – probably not – but you know what it did for me, as the little brown person? I wasn’t scarred by the moment – I wasn’t left seeing myself as inferior – I was taught that I’m equal, just different.
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy for my folks – their blood boils it’s fair share when situations like these arise for anyone including themselves. But they made a conscious choice as parents – throughout our lives – to make sure that we never saw ourselves as inferior or that anyone was lower than us. All humans were to be seen as just that – humans with their own stories and to be treated with respect accordingly.
That was one of MANY situations my folks taught us how to approach life. I’m still hearing stories from them of what they shielded us from so that we could view the world in the best way a human being should.
Now, folks – remember I said at the beginning that just like the rest of the human race, I am just as sinful or ugly natured as the next human being – so mistakes have happened but every time I have been confronted with someone who is willing to educate me out of my ignorance, I have embraced it and moved on and added it to my arsenal to equip and raise my three little human gifts.
This is where I drive my point home. We have to see ourselves as weapons and if we are going to be weapons for change – we have to look at where we can make the biggest, longest lasting and generational changing impact. Yes, use your voice to shake the dirt around and bring awareness to what is important but in order for true change to happen – we HAVE to start at home.
How do you speak around your children about others?
How do you respond to other people in front of them?
How do you engage other cultures, races or classes in front of and with them?
What do you teach them when they encounter prejudicial situations? Be it about colour, status, fashion or looks? What are you pointing out?
How do you describe other humans to them?
Who are you surrounding your children with?
Do they see equality in your friendship circle?
They will take their cue from you.
They will shape their “perspective” from the environment you create and react to around them.
This, my friends, is your impact zone.
It is here that you will bring change.
It is through them that you will truly bring the world to where it needs to be.
It isn’t easy, it’s uncomfortable. But, it’s only uncomfortable for you – they, don’t know any better. If we are wanting a world that sees equality – let’s create one with the lives we have at our fingertips.
It truly does start with you
And like I said, What is the big deal with colour? Unless we make it what it truly should be – reflect truth, and emit light
Yes – fight, but go in with a heart to educate and build up, rather than to just expose and break down.