By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO —
Color in all of its richness seems to be welcomed in many, if not every, aspect of our lives except when it comes to other human beings – of color, that is. When it comes to people, suddenly different colors and shades provoke closed mindedness rather than openness, fear rather than friendliness, oppression rather than freedom, and the baseness within us rather than the beautiful.
Many, down through the ages, have fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice to change the ugliness, the discrimination, the injustice, the persecution perpetrated upon fellow human beings because of differences in color. But our love hate relationship with color — skin color that is — prevails.
Our schizophrenic relationship with the notion of color is an age-old one. We love it in things. We loathe it in human beings. History is replete with examples of our worse behavior toward other human beings who do not look like us, dress like us, talk like us, worship like us, live like us. Today, little has changed when we look in some urban and rural areas in this country and many other places around the world.
Imagine the possibilities if we could appreciate the richness in people of different colors as we appreciate those in nature, and our own creations. Imagine if we could afford the same respect to peoples’ differences, and yet find greater understanding of ourselves, of others, of the world and our place in it.
Imagine if we could believe that every child, white, black, brown or yellow has the same needs: caring parents, safe neighborhoods, good schools, an opportunity to dream and to become whatever they dream of becoming. Our love hate relationship with color can cloud our view.
Imagine if it could become natural, a matter of unconscious practice, that every human being is given the benefit of the doubt and treated equally when he or she applies for a job, submits an application for college, goes to buy a house or rent an apartment.
If different colors in people could be regarded with the same reverence and respect as that in nature, there would be no need for affirmative action, equal rights, equal employment protection, fair housing and other laws just to get us to do the right thing toward each other. The economic, social and educational cast systems created around color and because of color have done as much to imprison and deprive the perpetrators as the perpetrated.
There are great strides and gains to be made if be bother to get in touch with our conflicting feelings around color, beginning with the simple acknowledgment of the common color that runs through our veins and binds us all with the gift of life.
Just imagine what could happen when we cease to allow the insignificant differences in skin color to confuse and compromise the quality of life we could share as neighbors, colleagues, fellow travelers on the world stage.
Feature photo credit: beinglumina.blogspot.com