America is browning, but its residents are the last to admit it. According to the Los Angeles Times (July 31), the 2000 Census shows that, increasingly, foreign-born residents are checking the box designated "white." While race might not have been an issue in their native country, many considered white as being more American, and not surprisingly, as affording more opportunity.
Ironically, on the flip side, some people of Caucasian background found it difficult to define and identify with what white means. The producer of a PBS documentary entitled "Ancestors" observed: "For many white Americans, white is not enough there is no unifying white experience. They want to say they are Jewish, or Polish, or Ukrainian or something like that." In other words, many living in America are just not comfortable in their own skin, regardless of color. So, what can each one of us do to be more at peace with ourselves and with others? Isn't that the question that touches the ages?
It certainly touched my thought many years ago, when I was living in a region of the US where I belonged to a racial minority. A young girl who'd missed her bus wouldn't take a lift home from me because of the color of my skin, even though I had known her for several weeks. She was adamant about it and set out to walk the 17 miles on a hot summer day. I was concerned for her safety, so I could easily have felt inadequate to the situation or indignant for being judged by my skin.
Instead, I resorted to what I had so often found effective: I prayed for God's guidance. I recognized that God, being Spirit, didn't divide us by the color of our skin. He didn't think of us as fleshly mortals with an ethnic ancestry, but as His spiritual ideas, shaped in the image and likeness of Spirit. It's not that we are colorless, but that this color is perceived spiritually.
Each of us is colorfully individual. We see things from slightly different perspectives. It doesn't mean that one is superior to another, just distinct. So, each can appreciate and learn from another's vantage point, as well as help another through his or her own.
As we come to see one another in this light, a material sense of color dissolves and we glimpse the spectrum of beauty in one another. There's a wonderful statement about this in the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy: "Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness" (pg. 247).
Once I gained a better perspective of how God viewed each of us, I asked the young girl again if I might give her a ride. This time, she accepted it freely. When we reached her home, she asked if I would come in to meet her family. She wanted them to know her new friend.
Thinking about this experience over the years has taught me that we don't have to lose a sense of color, but we need to get our thinking straight about it. When we do, we'll feel more comfortable with who we are. If we hold to the prejudices associated with color, racism will prevail. People will be divided along racial lines, and certain traits and tendencies will be assigned to those races. On the other hand, when viewed spiritually, the beauty of each unique expression will emerge, and we'll better appreciate the diversity we find in people.
Color, from a spiritual perspective, has its source in God. Recognizing that none of God's ideas could fail to express His form, outline, and color, we will take limitations off ourselves and others and will find more peaceful living. Then we will echo Mrs. Eddy's statement, "Spirit diversifies, classifies, and individualizes all thoughts, which are as eternal as the Mind conceiving them; but the intelligence, existence, and continuity of all individuality remain in God, who is the divinely creative Principle thereof" (pg. 513).