I led a white privileged life! You know the one where I was raised in a white family who had the privilege of playing with kids of all races and colors and meeting people of all nationalities. Okay, maybe that’s not your typical white privileged life but it was an honor and privilege for me to be raised in this way.
I grew up in a unique environment through a ministry called Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge is a program that ministers to those who struggle with addictions like drug and alcohol abuse. Through this ministry, I was introduced to many wonderful people of all nationalities and colors. I grew up color blind not realizing that most people don’t have this kind of privileged life to be surrounded by diversity.
I didn’t really understand what racism was until I was taught about it at school. I heard stories from people of all nationalities in how negatively they were treated but never really experienced racism for myself. Sometimes I wonder, if I had never been taught what racism was, would it really matter? Let me explain.
I see racism in two forms. First there are Americans who are not part of the struggle and have never been part of the problem and are constantly trying to prove they are not racist. The second are those that have been hurt or mistreated because of their race and they are desperately fighting to justify their pain by bringing race to every issue. Is there a point when we need to just let it go and make color go blind?
Growing up in a diverse environment didn’t teach me anything about racism. Race was never an issue. My parents never made my color or the color of my friends an issue. It was later on in life that others made me aware of the color of my skin. It was my society that constantly tried to point out that I was ignorant of the struggle of racism because my skin had no dark pigment. How could I possibly understand?
Now, I see racism through the eyes of my children. We never make our race or the race of others an issue. We don’t bring the discussion to the table because it shouldn’t be an issue to begin with. In the 2008 election my daughter had to do a mock vote as a class. She didn’t vote for Barack Obama and when asked by her friend who she voted for, she innocently named McCain. Her friend accused her of voting that way because Obama was black. My daughter was hurt over this accusation and was inadvertently introduced to racism. How is it possible to raise my children color blind when others make race an issue at any chance?
I am not diminishing the pain that has come from those who have made race an issue. I am not dismissing racism or making any kind of excuse for the hatred that still exists in this country. I am simply trying to share my heart over this issue. If only, as an adult, I could have kept that innocent child-like mentality that the color of skin is just a pigment. If only, as a society, we could truly be like the visual impairment of colorblindness. This doesn’t mean that we are not supposed to see any color but simply have trouble seeing the difference between the colors. Then maybe, we could see the headlines of news stories like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown and feel the anguish over their untimely deaths not because they were black teenagers but because each one of them could have been my son, too. Could the society we live in ever be that color blind?