Deep Color Roots You Can’t See

Why does the colour of our skin have to define us so strictly?

Why does the colour of our skin have to define us so strictly?

One of my most unusual memories was as a small child riding in the back seat of my father’s car. He and my mother were talking. If memory serves, Robert Guillaume had just been brought in to play the role of the Phantom in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera. I remember my father expressing his dislike.

My mother asked him why, and he said that he was not comfortable with the idea of a black man kissing a white woman (even if it was just one quick stage kiss). Even as a young child, I was perplexed by this. Even in my little 5 year old mind I wondered what difference it made.

Had I known then what I know now, I might have had a little more sympathy towards my father.

Growing up in a family that didn’t accept him and other family members because they were dark, it was only normal for him to feel uncomfortable. He had heard that he – and other people of color – were less than.

I am certainly not going to defend his prejudice, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder how he felt about himself and other people who had melanin.

I can’t imagine having cousins or other relatives dismissing you because you’re darker than they. Unfortunately, that was my father’s reality and it was a reality that stayed with him.

I’m the first to admit that I am lucky to be as pale as I am. Most people who meet me do not suspect that I am Hispanic, let alone Hispanic with some very dark roots. I have been afforded some wonderful opportunities, and I do believe that some of that has to do with my skin tone.

Being mixed, I don’t really see skin color, but I’m not blind to the fact that it plays a huge role in our society still to this day. It’s sad that for all of the time and fighting and social “progress,” we’re still judging people by their color.

Moreover, it’s sad to know that there are families out there like my father’s. Personally, I can find no justification for familial prejudice. Nor can I even begin to imagine the severity of the wounds caused by it. Somehow, someway we must find a way within our hearts to change how we view others, whether they are strangers or family.

They say charity begins at home. I believe that acceptance begins at home, too.  I think it is incredibly important for us to embrace the others in our lives, regardless of their skin color. And we definitely need to do this sooner rather than later.