Color

Color: (n) pigmentation of the skin, especially as an indication of someone’s race.

To find a real black person you have to go deep into Africa.

The only white people are albinos.

To get yellow skin usually requires liver disease.

And red skin is any one of a number of young girls in Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Yet for some reason we decide to take these colors and differentiate not only race–not only customs–but certainly intelligence, morality, violence and quality.

What actually is the difference in color between an American Negro and an American Hispanic, or an American housewife of Beverly Hills after leaving the tanning booth?

It can’t be about color. There just isn’t that much variation.

And of course, once you get right below the epidermis, we all pink up.

So what in the hell is this all about?

At one time we were so frightened there wouldn’t be enough squirrels, rabbits and wild turkeys in the woods, so we tried to thin the herd of our human competition by making them lesser, therefore teaching them they couldn’t eat the actual meat of the buffalo, but could have all the internal organs they wanted.

Are we still stuck in that survival mode?

Are we so terrified that we’re going to be exposed as lackers or slackers that we try to characterize one group of people as already occupying that space–and then colorize them?

 

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Buckwheat

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Buckwheat: (n) an Asian plant milled into flour

The first black person I ever saw was on a television screen, watching “The Little Rascals.”

His name was Buckwheat.

He looked really weird to me. And of course, the producers of the show did little to play down his ethnicity.Dictionary B

No–that was the goal. The purpose was to establish that even though this crazy group of kids had invited in a snooty rich girl–Darla–and a black bug-eyed little boy named Buckwheat, that it was completely normal because these were all children of the neighborhood.

From that experience, I learned the power of imperfection.

While some people may scream about injustice in the world, there are those who quietly and perhaps awkwardly introduce ingenious concepts into our lives, and by doing so, gradually contribute to the common good.

Even though Buckwheat was a very stereotypical “tar-baby” type of character, the mere fact that he was in the gang and included with all the white kids, rich kids, Italian kids and kids with cowlicks, caused me to deal with the possibility that the races might just possibly be comfortable mixing together.

Without that, I don’t know how long it would have been before I ever saw what we then referred to as a “Negro.” And by that time I would not have been six years old and pliable to the notion of accepting another race.

Even when ideas are not perfect, if within their imperfection they are moving toward social justice, we should certainly support them.

 

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