Seeing in ColorJul 19, 2020
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." - André Paul Guillaume Gide
That the sky could produce magnificent bright arcs with colors all playing together like orchestrated magic, fascinated my six year old mind. Up above the barn and beyond the tops of the apse trees, there a rainbow captivated my senses, and I perceived that God was having fun painting the sky in full color just to make me smile! I wanted to know why and how this phenomenon occurred. Magic was make-believe after all, and I had heard people say that everything must have a scientific explanation.
When the rainbow disappeared and then showed up again and again on other days, magic emerged in my mind as the predominant theory and explanation. Science can demonstrate the how ... how sunlight manipulates raindrops at just the right angle, and light is bent to reveal an array of colors, but the WHY still remains unknown, the deeper why, I mean. Beyond physical properties there is an infinite, divine order at work (and at play) in which reason eludes us. Our minds are free to wander therein, and make-believe is permitted because nothing is proven or invalidated.
This is the point of intuitive knowing (the awareness ... that we actually know very little) in which our colors and biases can meet and play.
The various hues around us, much like human existence, are made of pure energy, interacting with other sources on one gigantic, infinite playing field. Rainbows, beyond their bending of sunlight through raindrops, are delightful proof that color is meant to mingle, morph, and dance together. Like music and laughter, universal and carefree, they operate from creative forces incomprehensible to mankind.
So, the BIG question I have pondered is this: What compels us to perceive our own color (the color of our skin) or any other aspect of ourselves, as superior or inferior to that of another? It makes no sense when all of us, together, are part of this vast and limitless ecosystem - this being-ness called nature. What rationale do we employ to divide color into categories of bad, good, right, wrong, superior, and inferior, when none of it is ours to impose judgement on in the first place?
Color is a gift - ALL color.
The R Word
Everyone wants to talk about racism when atrocities are fresh and new, but people get bored then (if they are not the target of racism, that is) and it becomes almost a non-issue once the hype disappears from our newsfeeds.
I bear a burden of contextual articulation as I write this because society is a delicate matrix in which our words are perceived, received, and interpreted in any number of ways, and while I do not believe we ought to be so censored as to never make a raw point, my aim is not to stir up endless contention about an already loaded topic. I prefer to keep it on a lighter note while expressing genuine reflection, emotion, assertion, and perspective.
What intrigues and saddens me is how racism can move from a hot topic to a mere tepid one, tepid in the sense that conversations about it die down, and yet its embers NEVER grow cold. We allow them to lurk and glow in the ashes of periodic mighty flames. When a murder hits the news or other heinous racial crimes are committed, we ignite our passions once again and allow our anger to be felt in its truest depths.
We have existed in this cycle for decades, and by our own mishandling of the severity of racism, we have created new generations of an old monster, as complex mutations of it grow and spread. The threads of each one are passed along like a virus until nobody knows for sure who is to blame, and most of us toss up our hands because "we" are not to blame, "we" are not racists, and "we" would never say or do that.
I believe most of us are decent human beings living our lives and loving as best we know how. Racism is, unfortunately, just something many of us in the White culture grew up with, ingrained and passed down from one generation to another, and since our sponge-like brains accepted whatever teaching it was given from birth up to about age seven, we grew to accept "norms" that are actually not of our normal, inherent human nature at all! And so, we do not learn to differentiate between right and wrong with sufficient precision to notice subtle racial slurs that people of color feel and see clearly.
But again, I want to approach this from a lighter perspective, simply because I am (and I know the world is) tired of the heaviness we have concocted for ourselves.
What Would The Rainbow Do?
Imagine, if you will, the color indigo getting kicked out of the rainbow. If such a freak occurrence happened in nature, what might become of that one color?
Now, envision indigo struggling for its equal place in the universe where it knows damn well that it too is supposed to be illuminated by the sun's rays. What might indigo do to ensure its survival in such a mad universe? Would it fight back against the banded army of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, when to do so would most likely bring about its own demise? Of course not.
I imagine each particle of the color indigo would bond tighter together in solidarity, gathering whatever resources it might, to stay visible, valid, and owning its rightful place in the heavens, no more or less deserving than all the other colors. And then there would be the scenario where components of all the other colors (the parts that were asleep, blind, or brainwashed into the big supremacy) start to say, "Wait a minute, I actually like indigo," only to be bombarded with deeper brainwashing.
You see, anytime the oppressed are defended or try to fight back, they are depicted as the enemy, and their oppression is further validated in the minds and supremacy of the oppressor. The root of their outrage is not acknowledged, the injustice is well hidden from new generations, and racism is more deeply ingrained as right and normal.
I believe most of us in our world today really DO want all our colors working together in harmony, love, and justice for all. I believe in a better, more unified world where equality is the norm. I believe we can make our way back to the beginning where, as children, we just played together in unison, like the colors of the rainbow. But old paradigms die hard. They still exist like glowing embers.
So what are we to do now? How do we continue to stand up for people of color, versus tossing up our hands in passivity and paralysis in the face of defeat and/or privilege? What can I do, as an individual when it seems like I am fighting a war that never ends? What can YOU do if you are not a person of color? What can you do if you ARE? What can we do TOGETHER?
As a member of the White race, I will continue to speak up. I will be a friend and do away with any possible sense of racial entitlement. I will do what is hard to do when presented with tricky situations, as if my own mother or child were in danger. I will open more (and deeper) conversations about equality. I will take note of the many words I heard while growing up that were contributing to segregation between races, and call them what they really are. I will listen in and notice if I feel any biases when I am around others who are NOT a member of my White race, and if so, I will challenge all of it. I will tune in more and more to what it means to have White privilege, and walk in the shoes of my friends of another color a little more mindfully.
I will pay attention to the absurd, subtle things that separate us as races, and turn them around as tools for connection and bonding. I will teach children (and other adults) however I can, that the differences we see between races are no different than our different eye color, hair color, or body type, within our own race.
My hope is that we can one day (like, NOW) be the collective, colorful rainbow that heals the human heart and the voice that whispers inside for peace, love, and equality for all.
Can you see it? Can you feel it? Don't you just love the beauty of our inherent nature where all our magnificent colors are at play in one beautiful streak across the universe?
Isn't life more vibrant, more alive, when we see in full color?! You can see it too. I know you can.
I welcome your comments on my Facebook post here, on my Page, Verna Lee Bowen Coaching.