I was born with pasty white skin. It was nearly transparent. You could see veins and arteries clearly through my skin, but honestly, I never even noticed it. I was a young kid. I was innocent. I loved to play and dance. I sang to the top of my lungs every Disney song within my repertoire, and I believed that one day, my prince would come and take me away to live in his beautiful castle, like the one at Disney World. I lived life to the fullest, and I never really thought about evil or darkness or hatred. And then, it was time for me to start kindergarten.
I made a friend shortly after I started. Her name was Nikki, and she was incredible. We jumped rope together and made up stories together. She was so smart. She could count higher than any numbers I had even heard of. I knew of one through ten, but she was counting past ten, past one hundred, and into the forty hundred fifties. My mind was blown.
I would go over to her house to play, and she’d come over to mine to play. We loved playing with Barbie dolls and baby dolls. We’d play house in the cool treehouse my mom built, and we’d sing to the top of our lungs while we’d swing way up in the air on the swings. Yes, it seemed like we were kindred spirits.
It was after a few months that something changed. One day, I was at my house cleaning up my Barbie dolls when a neighbor dropped by. “Why does your daughter have all of those black dolls?”
What was she talking about? My mind wondered as I continued to gather them.
“Those are Misty’s Barbie dolls. She loves them.”
“Yes, but why does she have black ones?”
I looked at my doll in the face. I brushed back her dark curly hair with my hand, and I smiled at her. She’s beautiful, I thought. I loved her dark brown eyes and her beautiful dark skin. She looked just like my friend Nikki.
The visitor pulled me by the arm near to her, as if to teach me a lesson. “You’re white; you’re supposed to get the white dolls. She pointed to the skin on her freckled arm. “If you’re black, you get the black skinned dolls.”
I jerked away from her and ran to my room crying. I curled up in my bed.
After a while, I heard the front door close, and my mother’s footsteps near my room. The door creaked open.
“Are you okay?” My mother’s warm question calmed me.
I had pulled all of my baby dolls and Barbies around me. “Mama, why can’t I have a dolly that looks like Nikki? Why is that wrong?”
“It’s not, baby. Some people just have the wrong idea. They judge people by the color of their skin, instead of who they truly are–like judging a book by its cover.”
“But Nikki’s my friend, and I love her.”
“I love her too, sweetie.”
“I want brown skin like hers.” I sat up in my bed and crossed my arms.
“Well, that’s not what God gave you, honey. He gave you what He knows is best for you, and He gave Nikki what He knows is best for her. You should each just be thankful to Him and proud of who He made you.”
I looked down at my arm. My eyes followed the blue and purple lines from my wrist up my forearm. Was it true? Did God actually select the color of my skin because He put careful thought into it? Did He select Nikki’s skin color? Was he thinking in advance of what we’d grow up to be and do and factor that into the color he chose?
The next day at school, I looked Nikki in the eyes. My eyes followed the outline of her cute little braided pigtails. Her eyelashes framed her beautiful dark eyes. “You’re pretty, Nikki.”
Nikki smiled. She ran her fingers through my long blonde ponytail. “You’re pretty too, Misty.”
I grabbed her by the hand. “You’ll always be my friend.”
“Wanna race to the monkey bars?”
Nikki smiled. “Go!” She yelled as we both darted as swiftly as our feet would carry us, giggling all the way.
Over the years, I’ve lost track of Nikki, but I’ve never lost track of the lesson God taught me through my dear friendship with her, and I appreciate amazing men and women that have spoken the heart of God boldly, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream that my four 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.”
A few days ago, I was sitting on the bench in the play area at Chick-fil-A. I watched my young sons, Rice and Logan, as other children of varying races went in and out of the play area. My boys shyly asked, “Wanna play hide and seek?” There was no judgement, just innocence, just hearts open to whomever wanted to play with them.
It didn’t take long for all of the new recruits to be running about darting under the steps and crawling up the slide as they all squealed in delight trying to race to base. The innocence of those children overwhelmed me and drew a tear to my eye. If only we could ALL be like that.
So, today, I boldly proclaim that I am white, and I am thankful to God for it. No, not because I feel like the color of my skin makes me more or less that anyone else, but rather because I’m thankful that THIS is who God chose to make me. I will not apologize for being the color that I am, nor do I believe anyone else should apologize or be ashamed of their skin color either.
In the world we live in, it’s almost like we feel we have to apologize for something we have no control over, our skin tone. If my children describe their skin color as white, or pink as my youngest says, we almost feel as if we have to hush them, as if it’s taboo to mention the word “white,” unless referring to a crayon or vehicle color, but if I apologize for my skin color, then I am apologizing on God’s behalf, as if He made a mistake because He’s the one who chose this hue, and I do not believe our Almighty Creator is capable of mistakes, but rather I believe we, as people, are. We are guilty of judging people based on a superficial experience, a glance at their skin color or a stereotype.
I often hear people say, “I’m not racist. I have black friends.” Or vice-versa, but the day we are truly “not racist” is the day we’ll just see friends. The day we describe people as not “black friends”, not “white friends”, not “Hispanic friends”, not “Asian friends”, but just “my dear friends”—that’s the day that our nation will begin to change. That’s the day that we’ll truly break free from the bondage that we’ve placed on our own minds and be able to become all that God intended for us to be.
God loves color and variety. That’s why you’ll see people of all different sizes, shapes, heights, and colors, so why not celebrate it all together, as friends, as family—let’s celebrate with God. If God loves all of our variety, then who are we to judge it? If you want to choose your friends wisely, choose them by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, and let’s teach it and LIVE IT in front of our children.