Monday, October 5, 2020

The Person in a Different Skin


A woman shopping for groceries noticed an employee, a teenager, staring at her and her two small children. She was used to the attention, as both of her children were adopted and looked vastly different from each other. One had the dark chocolate skin of her Haitian parents and the other, a boy who hailed from Russia, was lightly complected with blonde hair. “Those your kids?” the youth eventually asked.

The proud mother answered, “Yes, they are!”

“They adopted?” he continued.

“Yes.”

“I thought so,” he surmised. “I figured you’re too old to have kids that small.”

I don’t imagine the young man meant any disrespect; it was an observation. He was struck by the age difference between the children and their mother, but didn’t seem to give much regard to what would have seemed obvious to others - the different races of the children. I find it gratifying in that our world has been shaped far too long by values we place on skin color.

I’m reminded of an email I received from a reader, Jeanne Green, who told me she is Caucasian and is married to a man of another race. They raised two mixed-race children, a boy and a girl. Their girl had no problem growing up biracial, but it was more difficult for her boy. He wrote a paper in school about living in a world that too often only pays attention to color.

"I am a person who was born to live in a skin with a different color from yours.
Thus, the color pigments embedded by the unchangeable hands of nature in your skin are perchance white while mine are black or brown or yellow.
But underneath I am just like you.
My muscles ripple in the same waves of power and thrill to the same throb of joyous action.
My mind has the same functions as yours.
I reach out, just the same as you do, in aspirations of the soul.
I love and hate, hope and despair, rejoice and suffer along with you.
When my children lose their fair chances at life and become aware of the bitter road of prejudice they must tread, then I know what my color has cost.
I offer you my hand in rebuilding an unjust world that you and I can make better than we found it.
I am the person in a different skin." 

Mahatma Gandhi accurately said, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” My only question is, will we pass that test?

--Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/Defence Images (used by permission)


1 comment:

Hemant K Chitale said...

It's a cruel world.
Different colour.
Disabilities.
Different language.
Different religion.


Few people accept those with differences.