Yesterday's blog got me to thinking about things that happened during that day camp, many, many ......... many years ago. There is an afternoon that stands out to me. We were on the bus heading out on a field trip. There were a couple of girls that I had become friendly with. I imagine we probably made an interesting group to see. Me, fair with a reddish tint to my hair, my one friend, who was a darker black person and the third friend, who was an albino black person.
As we rode along, the darker girl pulled up her sleeves, leaned closer to the window of the bus and said she needed to get a tan. Being a kid, I said, "Do you tan?! How can you tell?"
She rolled up her sleeve and showed me her arm. "See!" Sure enough, by the time I got my nose about five inches from her arm I could see a tan line. She continued, "You have to get a tan or you'll get a sunburn." I was gobsmacked!
I told them, I sunburned all the time, but I had a fairly good tan this year. I pulled up my sleeve. She declared, "Man! You're WHITE!" I refused that statement. It was the late sixties and a neon white body was to be mocked. We all strove to be coconut oil encased bronzed goddesses. So I countered, "I'm not white. I'm more of a cream color."
"Naw, You're white."
So, then I deflected and asked the albino girl if she could get a sunburn too. We compared notes for awhile and it seems that I sunburn more easily then an albino. Well, I sunburn more easily then a black albino. ( I am still searching for a white albino, so I can feel a little superior on the sunburn front.) Though her skin could still handle the sun better then mine, it was her eyes that took a real beating. She never went anyplace with out sunglasses. I told her, "I like your color. It's pretty. If I was your color I wouldn't have to try and get a tan ever again."
I wonder what the possibility of that conversation taking place would be now. A conversation of pure inquiry, with out malice or judgement. Somehow we jump out of the place of just wanting to know things and go to the place where we demand that others acknowledge what we know. Few are as smart as they think they are. Much of that goes back to life lesson #1. Own your mistakes, see where you missed things, and fix it.
Oh, and FYI, to this day, if it comes up, I tell people that I'm not white, I'm more of a cream color.