Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Stephen Colbert often tells folks that he doesn't see color. It is a "running joke" that does have serious connotations. We all see color but, many of us have an ability to see beyond the skin color of our fellow men and women. We do not prejudge anyone based upon a specific skin tone or variation of color.
Recently, a grand-niece asked me about the village in Mexico where we now live. She wanted to know if there were many African Americans in the area. I had to think for a moment. What did she really want to know and why did she ask the question?
There I was with what educators call a "teachable moment". I answered her question. Yes, I knew only one African American gringo retiree.
I then told her that when I look at my neighbors, I only see people who are Mexicans. Yes, in our village, we have folks with all shades of color. I told her that my tanned skin was darker than some of the villagers and that it mattered little in the grand scheme of life.
Wait, I had a story to tell her (don't all teachers?). In November, I had spent some time getting to know one of the guys I met. This young man had a good sense of humor and seemed like someone I'd like to have as a friend. He told me about one of the other guys that I met that night. He told me that this friend wanted to date him and be his boyfriend. BUT, he was too black.
My jaw dropped to the floor.
It seems that I have not escaped prejudice. I really hadn't imagined that one Mexican would have a bias about another Mexican because of the tone of his skin color. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised.
Needless to say, I dropped all thoughts of including that young man into my circle of friends.
I answered my grand-niece's question and then some. I trust that she understood the message.