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Glad to Hear It

Fayum portrait. What "color" is she?
This past week, Larry Wilmore and company mentioned Rachel Dolezol again on The Nightly Show. I don't remember who made the comment, but either Wilmore or one of the panelists said, "Did Rachel Dolezol do anything bad? No, she really didn't. Why did we get so uptight about that?" I was glad to hear it. Three cheers for being human.

I looked briefly at what's on Google currently about her and the now much-discussed Shaun White. I intend not to enter any of that fray mentally or verbally. I still maintain that humanity trumps color. We have a long way to go until we can leave our "paint by numbers" mentality behind, but we've made progress. Good changes can come, even in the midst of chaos and controversy. Maybe White and Dolezal will help us see that eventually.

As long as I'm here and continuing on the subject of color, I think I'm not alone in the fact that I don't like being called "white." As for my background, it includes some English, Irish, Scandinavian, and other rivers of inheritance, including a bit of Austria and a smidgen from Spain. As for being white, my father's skin color was olive, all year round. I'm surprised that so many Anglo-Americans and others are comfortable with the label, "white." It is as limiting as any other pure-color word that labels a race, a culture, a people.

If we could get back to the roots of color, where it truly refers to a shade, a color, and carries no other baggage with it, that would be great. My sister was porcelain. I have Mexican friends whose skin is that same color. Combine that with their jet black eyes, and you have real beauty only high contrast can provide. I have red-headed friends whose skin is true pink, not white at all. When my brother was first learning to talk, he called an African-American person who was passing by purple. My sister and I giggled, but it was true. There were deep tones of lavender beneath the dark sheen of that person's skin. If we could look at color as paint, as tones, as variety, instead of as race, stereotypes, labels, I think the Painter of the Universe might feel that He could rest from his labors awhile simply to smile down upon His children.

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