“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I’m so sick and tired of people saying they don’t see color. Then get your eyes checked.
If you can’t see my brown skin — baked darker by exposure to the summer’s sun — you must be blind. If you can’t discern my dark caramel-colored eyes, my thick coffee bean-brown lips or the unique chocolate hue that gives my human shell its distinction on the spectrum of the rainbow of humanity, then blink twice, squint hard and look again.
But please, whatever you do, just don’t tell me you don’t see my color — especially when you are white and I am black. To assert otherwise is nauseating. It is liberal opaqueness. And it insults me.
I am not opaque, beige or the color of water. I am not invisible. Not a shadow. I am black — Alabama rooted and infused with the blood of ancestral Black Gold whose full horrors are yet untold. Black. I’m black.
“…But I don’t see color…” they say. “I see everyone as human.”
Trayvon Martin was not just a boy in a hoodie. He was a “black boy” in a hoodie. Black, like my 15-year-old son. Black. It was Trayvon’s color that rendered him “suspect,” “criminal,” murder victim — shot dead, bleeding American red.
And that was not just another boy wearing that H&M sweatshirt emblazoned, “COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE.” It was a black boy.
Colorblindness is too convenient a disclaimer. It ignores the most glaring fact.
Rodney King. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. … Black.
Laquan McDonald. Emmett Till. … Black.
Was the color of their skin lost on their tormentors or slayers, or simply incentive or license enough to kill? Race still matters. Our souls red, white and bruised.
I arise each morning to wash my black face. I glide the straightedge gently across my black smooth skin, condition it — like my psyche — against the elements and the winds.
A familiar cold wind blows callously across this post- “post-racial America” now regurgitating the policies and promise of the nation’s first black president. It now ingests the bile of divisiveness and hate fomented by a new administration that has emboldened racists, bigots and assorted hatemongers.
Was it “Make America Great Again” or “Make America Hate Again?”
Some would say she never stopped. That the Black Soul has never rested. That because of color, our souls have historically, cruelly, unrelentingly been tested.
In “the dream,” we are judged by the content of our character. But King’s “Dream” was not colorblind. Neither is the nightmare. Not when racism unveils in 4K UHD. Not when some among us dismiss color’s continued bearing upon the societal chains that still weigh heavy on black and brown lives.
W.E.B. DuBois asserted: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line. …” Still is.
The solution? It is not to not see me. The dream requires not to change your vision but to change your heart. To see my blackness is not sin. To observe that I am black and male is as objectively clear as my being big and bald. It isn’t inherently wrong or right. It just is.
It isn’t the fact that you see my color that constitutes malice, or that belies secret matters of the heart. It is the assignment of -isms and schisms and assorted negative characteristics and stereotypes pre-assigned by white America to the color of the skin I’m in. It is the color-based mischaracterization, demonization and assassination of us.
To fail to see my color is to fail to truly see “me.”
I am black. See? Black. I only ask that you judge me not by my color but by my character.
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