Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

So Many Colors--Why Do We Only See One?

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

In Harry Chapin's song, Flowers are Red, he tells the story of a little boy's first day of school.  The little guy is so excited that he begins to color a picture using all of his crayons.  He puts colors all over the paper.  When the teacher sees what the child is doing she asks him what he is coloring--to which he answers, "Flowers!"  The teacher then proceeds to tell the little guy that it is not time for coloring, and besides, "flowers are red and leaves are green--that's the way that is has always been."  But the little boy says otherwise.  The teacher calls him sassy and reiterates that "flowers are red, leaves are green".  Nope, says the little guy.  The teacher places him the corner and tells him he can stay there until he changes his mind because "flowers are red and leaves are green."

A corner is no place for a little kid especially when everyone in the classroom is getting to experience all the excitement of the first day of school.  It eventually wears the little guy down until he sadly admits to the teacher that "flowers are red, green leaves are green--there's no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen."  The kid ends up towing the line and buying into the teacher's power trip.  

Eventually the kid's family moves to another town and school.  The teacher in the little guy's new school tells the children that painting should be fun--use all the colors!  But the little guy draws the flowers red, the leaves green in neat little rows.  When asked why he his drawing that way he responds to the teacher:  "Flowers are red, green leaves are green--there's no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen."

Recently it was pointed out to me by someone close to me that I was a privilege person--especially here in the United States--because I was male and white.  Simply put, this person stated that the culture of the United States pretty much revolved around this group as it had all the power and influence--they call the shots and run everything.  She was right . . . we white people, especially us males, have all the power.  We are the majority--we are the rich--and that equates to power to dictate to our culture what is valuable and important.  There are not a whole lot of colors in our world view--"flowers are red, leaves are green and that is the way that it has always been."

This was brought home for me with the Academy Awards this past Sunday.  Off the top of my head I can only remember two presenters who were of another race other than white--Jennifer Lopez and Chris Rock.  I might be wrong about this, but that is basically the only two I remember.  Lopez was not presenting because she was of the Latin race, but because she was pretty and apparently had a dress malfunction.  Rock, well he delivered a fairly biting monologue pointing out the disparity in the Academy for minorities and film opportunities before giving out the award for the best animation.  

At the time I didn't think much about it until I saw a little blurb in this week's Time magazine.  Apparently the Los Angeles Times conducted a study to explain who actually determines the winners of the Oscars.  The study was done on the Academy's 5,765 person voting roster.  What did they discover?  They discovered the following:
94% White
77% Male
86% 50 or Older
Yep, there are so many colors in the rainbow, but we can only see one.  Take a gander at the movies that won--pretty much white bread flavor.  Who has the power and control?

In the Billings Gazette this morning was a banner headline for a story about Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull apologizing for forwarding a racist email about President Barack Obama from his office to a couple of friends.  The judge was eating goat and proclaiming that he was not a racist despite the fact that the joke was racist to the core.  "There is no doubt it's racist. It wasn't forwarded for that purpose," Cebull said.  "If anything, it was political."  I guess it is okay to be racist if it is political--is that what he is saying?  

This is what Cebull fowarded: 
"Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching.  I want all my friends to feel what I felt when I read this.  Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

"A little boy said to his mother, 'Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?'  His mother replied, 'Don't even to there Barack!  From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!'"

Ouch!  For not being a racist that was pretty harsh--pretty nasty--disrespectful and downright inappropriate for someone who is suppose to be representing all the people of our nation.  I just wonder how it touched his heart that it made him want to share it with others.  To say the least he is now caught in a whirlwind of backlash from all over--there will be an investigation upon his conduct--letters of apology have been written by him including to the President of the United States who happened to be the crux of the joke.  The man is backtracking, taking responsibility, and still proclaiming that he is not a racist.  This man sees more than one color, but the other colors that he sees are not valued at all--they are the source of ridicule and hatred.  

Well, the judge is wrong.  All of us have our prejudices of things, people, and places that we do not care for or like.  We all do.  The problem is that most of the time we are unaware of them because they are so unconscious to us that we are not even aware that we are spouting them off.  We also get away with it because  . . . well, because we are the ones in power and control.  Ours is a pretty lily white culture we live in.  But the truth is we have all made the same mistake as the judge, we have let our little prejudices out and masked them as "politics" or "humor" despite that they are damning to those who are the butt of the statement.  We all carry our own prejudices--even those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus.  How much diversity is in your sanctuary on Sunday morning?  Remember that is the most segregated time in our country--Sunday morning when people head off to church.  How many colors do we see?  Usually one.

Awareness--consciousness--is the key to this problem.  We are to become aware of this issue in our lives and world if we are to ever change it and truly embrace the diversity of God's creation--of God's family.  There are more colors than any of us could ever imagine--look in the super-duper box of Crayola Crayons if you don't believe me.  So why do we only see one when it comes to our journey through this world?  I was taught that all of the human race--each individual--was created in the image of God.  If that is true--how can any of us hate someone else because they are a different color than we are?  Or a different gender than we are?  Or a different educational or financial level?  Or of different physical or mental abilities?  God calls us to love one another as we would love God.

  Well, I guess that is the end of my rant.  None of us is probably any closer to the solution of the problem, but maybe I have sparked something within your heart that might make you want to consider how you can make a difference--even if it is where you are.  This is only the beginning of this issue--the surface has only been scratched.  There are so many colors in a rainbow--so why do we only see one?

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