Tuesday, May 22

It’s good to stay the color you are

When my brother Wendell was about 4 years old he made an observation while watching a basketball game on TV. He noticed early in life that most African American players were better than most white players. According to the logic of a 4-year-old, he must have thought that trading your skin color for the ability to play better basketball was an option, but concluded that it was an option he would pass on. “It’s good to stay the color you are,” he remarked. We still laugh at this story, and the sentence has entered the family canon of frequently used phrases. I even use it when no one else will know to what I am referring. On Sunday afternoon my roommate donned her sunglasses and took off her shoes. “I’m going outside to try to get dark,” she announced. “I’ve decided to stay the color I am,” I replied.

Staying the color you are is good advice. I really have decided to give up trying to get tan this summer. Don’t get me wrong—I love being in the sun, and I don’t have a skin cancer phobia, but trying to get tan has always been a hot, headachy and unprofitable ordeal for me (except for the summers I worked at Twin Lakes). It will be much easier to let the chips fall where they may: If I get sun, fine. If not, that’s fine too. Just as going green, being energy efficient and recycling have all become cool, I predict that being white (or the color you are) will eventually come back into style. It may not be until I’m in my fifties, but when it does I’ll be ready.

As with many things that children say, “It’s good to stay the color you are,” hides a profundity beneath its funny exterior. It’s not just the paleness of my skin I need to accept, but so many other things about the way God made me and the culture and location in which he’s placed me. After my parents’ attack we got word from the Hambys that their children were praying for us. “Why does the dog bite?” 2-year-old Simeon said. And I thought then, in the midst of all the chaos, as I hovered back and forth between my parents’ hospital rooms, that Simeon had grasped the core of what was going on. Why is there evil in the world? Why does the dog bite? The effects of Adam and Eve’s sin have stretched out to touch everything, and because of their disobedience my mom’s left arm will be shorter than her right. God has been very good to us in the midst of this trouble. He’s brought my family, which was already close, even closer to each other and to him. He’s shown me that he is real and can be trusted. He made me the color I am for a reason.

1 comment:

wendell said...

Thanks for a great post, Caroline. I, too, have decided that getting tan is a waste of time. This is not to say that I will not occasionally wander outside with my shirt off (this tends to happen without premeditation). But I don't think it's worth the time to sit out in the sun in positions that, because they are ideal for sunning, make it difficult to do anything else.

And for me, it is still good to stay the color I am, which is, of course, slightly red.