What is color?

To many, it’s what goes on your walls, in your closet and in your artwork. To others, it’s what defines your character, your social class or your likelihood to go to jail.

Both can be true, and both can be false.

Last night, I had a long discussion about whether white is a color. I said it is- as it’s the presence of all color. He said no, it’s just a reflection of color. While it is a reflection, the reflection is only seen when refracted. That’s why we see rainbows, due to the refraction of light made by a change in the atmosphere, for example- with rain. The rain bends the light in a way that the white light breaks into colors. Roy G Biv. So yes, while white is a reflection of colors, because we see white light as normal- white- it is indeed, or at least in my opinion- a color.

I find it ironic that a white girl, myself, and a black man, my boyfriend, would have a conversation regarding white as a color. Why, you ask? Because color is a daily part of conversation in our lives. I have never pretended to be anything other than myself. I grew up in an upper-middle class town, Christian and conservative. These  facts about my upbringing are within me, whether I want them to be or not. Thing is, I am not conservative and I do not enjoy the lack of diversity of my hometown. I enjoy my hip-hop and rap music. I can as my boyfriend has said, ‘get gangsta’ if I need to. While I don’t know if that last thing is good or bad, I thrive with culture around me, with color around me. I enjoy the differences in background, in lifestyles, in music and skin color that my boyfriend and I have.

The beautiful thing I see though is that the color of my skin and his, is nothing important. We clearly know and recognize that we in fact, do have different skin tones. I have finally accepted that the color of his skin has meant that his life will be harder, due to prejudice and fear. I have finally accepted that I will never have the challenges he has due to my skin tone and my upbringing. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

“We are all equal in the fact that we are all different. We are all the same in the fact that we will never be the same. We are united by the reality that all colors and all cultures are distinct & individual. We are harmonious in the reality that we are all held to this earth by the same gravity. We don’t share blood, but we share the air that keeps us alive. I will not blind myself and say that my black brother is not different from me. I will not blind myself and say that my brown sister is not different from me. But my black brother is he as much as I am me. But my brown sister is she as much as I am me.”  – C. Joybell C.

I am, in no way, ever going to be anything I’m not. In no way will I ever be black. I am not blind to the color I am, or Alex is. Rather, I embrace it.  I look at my life and I look at Alex’s, and while we come from different backgrounds, different social classes, different everything… I see more similarities than differences. Sure my skin will always be lighter than his. But his character will not be measured by the tone of his skin. Rather it will be measured by the ethics in his heart, it will be measured by his ability to overcome adversity, it will be measured by his faith in God. The color of his skin has no hold on what he is able to accomplish, it has no hold on who he will love.

“We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.” -John Locke

Reading this quote reminds me, I pull the colors in my life from the moral character of those around me… by looking at Alex’s moral character, I think I’m doing alright.


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