Article: Race is not a color...
By Janet Pfeiffer
March 20, 2008
Recently I received a survey in the mail from a marketing firm. Usually, I just toss them but this time I decided to respond. As I was filling out the questionnaire, I came across a section that asked me to check my race: White, African American, Hispanic, Asian, other. I checked 'yes'. (There was no actual box for that so I made up my own.)
Aside from revealing my income, that is the only other question that I refuse to answer. Some people don't understand my reason for that. "Look," I say, "I do not consider myself to be white, nor blacks to be black." This confuses some and offends others. Let me explain. "If you were a contractor and I hired you to paint my living room white and the color you chose matched my skin color (which is actually a pinkish beige), do you think I'd be happy? Of course not. Would it be reasonable for me to require you to repaint using white this time? Absolutely!"
"And if you were purchasing a black suit, would you choose one that matched the skin color of Michael Jordan? I don't think so. Michael's skin tone is more of a rich cocoa- brown, not black at all."(Be careful when matching the shoes as well.)
My skin tone is beige, Michael's is brown. Beige and brown are the same basic color, only with different intensities of pigmentation.
How is it then that we call ourselves blacks and whites - and even yellows, for those who are of Asian heritage? If I'm white and you're black, then what color is Hispanic? And would 'Hispanic' be appropriate for a sofa and carpeting or is it better reserved for, say, nail polish?
Who came up with this idea of different races anyway? Does anyone of us know? Who gave that person the authority to decide that because our bodies are covered with skin of different shades of the same color that we are automatically classified as being of different 'races'? And we bought into it - how naive!
And why skin, why not separate us by eye color? Then we could be the blue, brown, green and grey races. (Except for me - my eyes are actually golden so where would that leave me?) Or hair color: the blond, brunette and red-headed races? Oh, no. That wouldn't work at all. What would happen when someone aged and their hair turned grey? Would they cross over from one race to another? Would they have to get a new birth certificate? Would any children they had suddenly become bi-racial? And worse - what about all those who loose their hair and end up bald? Would they suddenly be race-less?
And there are, of course, those of us who bask in the rays of the summer sun only to have our light-colored skin deepen to rival that of a brother. Do we become 'black' during the summer and return to our race-of-origin by Halloween as our tan bodies fade to back to pale?
To me, this whole concept of race is absurd. Defining who we are by the color of our skin makes about as much sense as segregating people by their height. All it really accomplishes is to separate and divide us. Why not focus on our similarities? We all laugh and cry, love and need to be loved and have hopes and dreams for our futures. Why not celebrate what connects and binds us together that makes us stronger as a whole?
We're all in this together. We can join forces as one, supporting and assisting one another, or we can choose to take sides. Human beings are supposedly the highest form of life on the planet yet are the only ones who judge and ostracize one another. Where's the intelligence in that?
I believe that there is only one race, the HUMAN RACE and we're all a part of it: brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and lovers - one big family of unique, beautiful people of every size, shape and color.
Be proud of your heritage and who you are. Be happy and love me for who I am, for we are one and all received life from the same Loving Source.
Leave race on the NASCAR circuit where it belongs.
Janet Pfeiffer is a columnist for the Daily Record.
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