I’m a white girl. Glow-in-the-dark white.
I can’t even get a decent tan…just burn and peel. Burn and peel.
But I was raised just east of Los Angeles—probably can’t get more of a melting pot of humanity than LA. Okay, so there’s New York City. But just the same, we went to an all-Hispanic church, hosted Japanese exchange students, had Thanksgiving dinner with our Romanian friends, and my best babysitting clients were black. And I loved them.
One night a dinner guest asked my dad if he would let his daughters marry a black guy. The four of us girls were pretty young at the time. I don’t know why he asked that; the idea of marriage was distant and unreal. Almost a bit ridiculous. But my dad answered his question. And I still remember what he said.
We were not prejudice, but we did notice differences—strengths and weaknesses that tended to be true of different people groups. Our black friends were not just smart, they were FAST! They dominated the basketball courts. The Asian friends were not only smart, but hardworking and disciplined. The Hispanic friends were not only smart, but their culture took life at a much easier pace. Time was a suggestion. Family birthdays and events were big deals. Their all-day parties took us a little by surprise at first but we realized once you are considered family—you don’t miss one for the world.
So…we were all listening when my dad answered the question. Would he let one of his daughters marry a black man?
“It doesn’t matter so much the color of his skin as the color of his heart.”
I remember not only Dad’s answer, but I remembered the principle. And it wasn’t an isolated statement—it was consistent with the way my parents lived their lives.
They taught us to use our heads. They even taught us to use the “D” word—to be discriminating. The difference was, they taught us to be discriminating about things that matter, like character. Not things that don’t matter, like race. Even those general tendencies we noticed about people groups were just that—generalities. People are different; their skin color did not define them. You best evaluate people by their hearts—one at time.
Race has been in the news a lot this year. And unfortunately, in Charleston, we are now trying to navigate through an incident involving a white cop and a black shooting victim. But I wish all of the people out there who think that black lives don’t matter to white people could see what I see.
Because we care. We are ripped up. Because no one—black, white, or “other,” should be gunned down in cold blood the way that it appears happened in North Charleston recently. I’m glad there was a witness. I’m glad there was a witness with a cell phone. I wish the incident had never happened, but since it did, I’m glad that we can take the opportunity to show that our loyalty is to justice and not necessarily to the cops, the alleged criminals, the white people, or the black people. We want the facts to be brought to a jury –and the jury to do the right thing.
We care because black lives matter. But far more than that, we care because all lives matter—because they are lives, not black lives, white lives, or “other” lives.
I want the Scott family to know that we are behind them. No need for protests. No need for looting. No need to lose precious sleep to convince us that this is an important incident that should be given due process. We want it every bit as much as you.
I’m a white girl and I want justice.
But then, it doesn’t matter so much the color of my skin as the color of my heart.