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Love your neighbor as you love yourself...(well most of us have heard the golden rule)
How can you say you love God, whom you have not seen, and yet not love your brothers and sisters whom you can see?...I John chapter 4, biblical paraphrase
What's all this about color blindness? I have to ask.
Should we not love in spirit and in truth?
Just my thoughts as I jot down a few lines today.
I've seen a certain view expressed repeatedly that relates to race, one that causes my brow to wrinkle—I've seen it expressed not just at AuthorsDen, but around the Net also—and so, I decided to address that view in poetry because I think that sometimes a good old-fashioned, rhythmic, rhyming poem makes a point well, and the thought sticks with the reader.
The view that I keep seeing expressed is a claim of being racially colorblind, and it usually comes from people who think they're showing great spiritual maturity and understanding on race matters or a praiseworthy kind of openness; however, what they really reveal is little-to-no understanding of genuine acceptance and respect for difference.
They declare, "I'm a good person; I see no color!" But I wonder how that view works in their heads and how does it help a world full of people who come in multiple colors and from many cultures.
It's true that we are all equal in essence in terms of our existence in the universe and humanity, but are we all the same? So, what are we really saying if we say "I see no color and that means I love everyone"? Are we suggesting that there's something wrong with a person being of color and so in order to love another whose skin color differs from our own, we must claim that the person has no color in our eyes?
The poem "Behind the Color Blind" is written in rhyme and accessible language so that more people will understand it.
The rest of this essay has been removed because I have learned that "Behind the Color Blind" is being assigned to students for analysis in America and abroad, and I think reading a long author's essay gives students too much help with their homework. Don't you?
Since I first posted this poem in 2005, I have learned that children are reciting it at special programs and that it has been recited by college students at multiple events that protest or address racism. Thank you to everyone who has given this little poem some attention.
Now for "Behind the Color Blind"--
The text of this poem has been moved to the author's website:
Click the pic below, please!
© Copyright 2005 Nordette Adams
If you use this poem or essay, please credit Nordette Adams as the author. Contact her.
WritingJunkie.net tribute page to Martin Luther King, Jr. page, created January 2004.
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Reader Reviews for
"A Poem and Essay on Race and Racism: Behind the Color Blind"
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|Reviewed by Nordette Adams
|Thank you, Patricia.|
|Reviewed by Patricia Shirra (Reader)
|Ms. Adams, your poem touches on a subject that I've often had strong feelings about, people who don't see color. Your poem sends a clear message as to why these thoughts are no better than the thoughts of people who only see color. I've been asked to be on standby to read a poem at our youth Black History program tomorrow evening, and if called I will be reading your poem. I am an unpublished author and have just written my first young adult novel, called "Aspie", about a 16 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome. Prayerfully you'll see it published in the near future. Thanks again for the use of your work.|
|Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore
|Looking good, Nordette. It is good to read you again. You broke it down, as always. Great job and thank you for being you!|
|Reviewed by OnepoetGem *the Poetic Rapper
|great piece here Nordette, I love all of it. I am a rhyming poet. Rhyme is more fun to me, which is one reason I love to write poetry.
I feel that it is really easier for a poet to express if he doesn't rhyme. Rhyming makes poetry more difficult, I love the difficult part. So goes my game of rhyme. to be honest, I'll write any kind of way. hugs
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|your article is powerful. I have long believed that to rely on what can be recognized as an accident of birth to somehow elevate or lower us as a person is a daft thought. unless we believe somehow, prior to birth, that we choose our parents, our ethnicity, our race, how on earth can we feel smug that we are man/woman, black/white/purple/or plaid, tall/short, or any other physical attribute that is viewed as 'important' or makes us better/less than.|
|Reviewed by Donald Beaulieu
I’m over 18 and I got “it” and you can count on the fact that I will see your color and I hope you see mine. Like you, I also, hope one will see the color of my hair, the wrinkles in my skin, the joy in my eyes and the song on my lips and the pain I feel from time to time. Your poem is an EXCELLENT reflection of man’s ability to be a ”donkey.” Too bad that so many people will have to wait until they die find the wealth you speak of. I only hope they do find it. Your poem is an exceptional balance of the physical, the intellect , the spirit and the soul. You are correct - God’s variety should not be question.
|Reviewed by Safi Abdi
|Thoughtful and so true. You must have heard the famous line, 'You know what...you're not like "the others". You're different.'
And I always wondered what it means to be 'not like the others'. In what respect? would be an appropriate question. Aren't the others just like me, black and loving just being what they are?
Well, Nordette, glad I stopped bye today, thank you for sharing both article and poem are a delight to read.
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. and Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
(Quran: Chapter #49, Verse #13)
|Reviewed by Liz Craig
|This (both the essay and the poem) handle a difficult subject as well as I've ever seen. I've read a lot of clumsy comments on racism, and they tend to leave me cold.
The last lines of the poem touched my heart too.
"But to claim you see no color,
and smile like all is fine
is to say you don't see wholely
and if so, we see you're blind."
I am profoundly deaf, which is likely one reason why I've learned and prefer to express myself through my writing. In many respects, those of us with disabilities face the same life challenges as those of ethnicity. In our case, instead of "colour first", people tend to see first one thing that we CANNOT do rather than the myriad things we CAN do.
My audiologist has a wonderful poster in his office. It displays pictures of persons with various disabilities, and the caption reads "My biggest handicap is YOUR attitude."
Congrats on a great piece of work, Nordette.
|Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson
|Very worthy topic and your thoughts and feeling are right on point to me...it something that will be talked over debated over people will fight and kill and die over it....
this well always be a heavy
peace & blessings
|Reviewed by Art Sun
|Not many can bring forth the subject of your thought and express it with respect that goes beyond the simple mind. My city of 75% Hispanic population has shown me a variety of culture clashes and though I see myself as first a human being first, placed here by One with a purpose for me, reality is placed within my mind as I view your expressions on this subject, funny how I woke up this morning and sifted through my mind the memories of my own from the child within fields on a farm, to the neighborhood of English speaking families, where I met a boy who taught me a new language, I also remembered the riots at my high school between Hispanics and Blacks, to the years within the military and meeting so many different cultures from around the globe, your thoughts have placed me within thought and in a good way, thank you for being so respectful with the ways of the realities we confront each and every day...
|Reviewed by Christelle Harris
|It's a touchy subject, and you approcahed it so perfectly. The one thing I can't get past is being called WHITE though. My skin is pale, and I look white (therefore, some black people treat me like I am a "white devil"), but I am Armenian. My family escaped to America in the 1920's, during the Armenian Genocide. My great-grandmother was a kidnapping victim, and my great-grandfathers mother starved to death, because she gave her last breat to him. We SHOULD be judged by our rich ethnic heritage, but certaily not judged by our outward apperance. There are black men who come from tribes, not slaves, and white women who come from slaves, not slave owners. The world often fails to see this perspective. Suffering sometimes happens across everything.|
|Reviewed by Tami Ryan
|A-a-a-a-a-men! Ya done good here, my friend. Excellent piece, so well written. Thank you.
|Reviewed by Sandra Mushi
|Great article, Nordette! I especially like the poem - very truthful.
|Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher
|This was a great article and poetry, really liked it!
Birgit and Roger
|Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU
|"A Poem and Essay on Race and Racism: Behind the Color Blind".
I have enjoyed this journalistic composition. I also liked the poem.
The subjects dealt here stimulated my searching tools and took me to a historical trip. The opening lines came with an evangelic background, and the closing lines were referring to an Entity that had no relationship with the subjects that were discussed here. If we are reading a social and historic theme, we expect to see the conclusion on the same. The author sounded more like a preacher than an observer of socio-politics.
When we understand that there is only one RACE on the planet Earth, and that ~ that race is the HUMAN-BEING,~ we will understand what humanity is.
As long as we don’t know the words we use, we will write what doesn’t represent our feelings and knowledge. (Lexicographers describe what people tell them. Etymologists show us what the roots of the words and what the words mean.)
If one has no Identity, one is not free. If one doesn’t know his IDENTITY he allows any terrorist to place her/him under mental slavery.
“American-Indians” are the sons of Americans and Indians, born in India, which is a country situated in Asia. The sons of Indian citizens, (Asian people from the Republic of Indian) born to mixed parents from India and USA, in USA are “Indian-Americans”. Native Americans are born within the Jurisdiction of The United States of America. Non-Native Americans are those Americans by the Naturalization Act/LAW.
Strange as it may be, the descendants of the Abducted Africans are the supporters of “CHRISTIANS”, their abductors, (KIDNAPPERS and TERRORISTS.) related gurus, and sellers of political-religious LURES and the same happened to the Aborigine Nations that allowed priests to call them “Indians”. The sons and daughters of abducted Africans allowed themselves to be called “blacks” by the KKK, and permitted them to have this name on the Census and Social Studies; worst than that, they call themselves “Black People”; and the Native Nations of this land –The Aborigine Nations – on this and other Provinces of Roman-Greek Empire allow their Nations to be called American Indians; and, like the descendants of the abducted Africans, they follow the throng and call themselves just as the CENTURIONS (Priests) of the Roman-Greek Empire, – including the Church of England – named them.
It is sad to know that Nations that were in their land, (Now under jurisdiction of USA) when the Europeans arrived here still allow the slave masters (Anglican Church, and all Christians Churches, branches of the Roman-Greek Empire, – Roman Church.) to call them "American Indians".
Cheyenne, Cherokee, Massachusetts, and Narrangaset are Nations, and so are Apache, Kickapoo, Crow, Hopi, Passamaquoddy, Creek, Sioux, Navajo, Catawba, Mohegan, Delaware, and Chickasaw. , (To mention some of the aborigine Nations).
If one is from the Cherokee, Massachusetts, and Narrangaset Nations born under the Jurisdiction of United States of America, she/he is: Cherokee-American, Massachusett-American, and Narrangaset-American.
Get your ID now. Don’t Let “Zeus” control your life. Don’t be a slave of the Roman-Greek Empire. Read the Constitution of the United States of America and the Declaration of Independence. IF WE DON’T HAIL ZEUS JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL.
We should be concerned with our identity as human-being, and with our Constitution; overseeing the actions of our Congressmembers, and of all public officers; – in order to secure a safe and responsible Goverrnment – and make this country composed of human American beings.
Justice is the tool and the way.
Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
|Reviewed by Cynth'ya firstname.lastname@example.org
|Muncie Indiana needs to put this on their front page. You'd have to live here to understand how people still play everything by color and class. But that doesn't stop those of us who know how to break thru the barriers. Great Poem Sis. 'Dette!
love and blessin's
|Reviewed by Jill Christine Carpenter
This was just so beautifully and so eloquently written, a gift to all of us; deeply touching and full of truth and love.
Well done, Nordette,
|Reviewed by richard kigel (Reader)
|This is an enormously complicated storehouse full of troublesome issues that I, too, have been probing and thinking and writing about for a long time. I am absolutely amazed to find here, in clear, tightly reasoned prose and the music of fine poetry a nearly perfect mirror for my own deepest, mostly unarticulated insights on the subject. I am astounded that I find here a match, line for line, point for point, nuance by nuance--but not word for word since it all came out in Nordette's way with Nordette's unique rhythms and word pictures. You ask the right questions--"What's all this about color blindness?" and "Shoudln't we not love in spirit and in truth?" And spirit, as scripture tells us and as we know from our own deepest prayer life, has no name, no form, no figure, no shape and no color. But Nordette reminds us of the simple truth of human nature that has been described by CS Lewis. We are amphibious creatures. We have two natures, spirit and flesh, body and soul, devine and demonic. Nordette's view is as large as God's creation itself. She starts from the proposition that humans are spiritual creatures and this fact is not to be forgotten. But she remembers that we also have bodies and ethnicities and histories and cultures and that too is to be honored and celebrated and respected. One of the clearest, finest and most joyous statements of the truth of this dual human nature in spirit and flesh came from the incomparable Zora Neale Hurston who, I think, has the last word on this issue--I mean, the next to last word--after Nordette. She said "At certain times I have no race. I am me...I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads...It merely astonsihes me. How can any deny themsleves the pleasure of my company! It's beyond me." And so, for anyone who, as Nordette says, is "limited in their understanding" or "stuck" or "arrogant" or "blind", well, it's their loss. Too bad. God Bless You Ms. Adams.|
|Reviewed by Constance Gotsch
|I think you hit the nail n the head. We all come from different backgrounds, especially in America. We need to learn to live with that and at best enjoy it. If we can't then we can leave the others be!!|
|Reviewed by Sandy Knauer
|Thank you so much! Two days ago, I addressed this very topic with someone who was trying to explain how 'not prejudiced' she was in her not seeing any color. I told her we see many colors in our house and love them all, and I believe it's a mistake to try to erase differences instead of celebrating them. I'd like to send your poem to her, if you don't mind.|
|Reviewed by Betty Torain
|Gee, Nordette, you really can express yourself well. I wish I could write on paper what I feel in my heart. Thanks for your poem. When my friends say they don't see my color, many of them are making conversation. And, a few of them are saying they see my inner-self, my spirit. I don't hear them saying they don't see the color of my skin. I have the same feeling toward some of my friends. I'm very much aware of the color of my skin, my culture and, background. I'm more aware of who I am in my heart. I know the pain of living in America. I know my history past and present. But my history does not define who I am. Love, Mother of the Universe|
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|You say take it to God. That is good and that is where you should take it. God can bring you through all the torment humans can sting you with. God can being peace within yourself when the world is whirling around you. To trust God is a good thing. A necessary thing, because it give you a special reflective look at the world and the people around you.
To bring God to the table, however, will not stop racism or any other abnormality of the human kind. What it will do is give you the ability to "turn the other cheek," and if that does not work, the strength to "whup ass" in whatever way you think is proper. White people want to "be good," to be "not prejudice," even to the extent of seeing on fault by black citizens of this country. To excuse African-Americans for heinous crimes because of white guilt is a tragedy for both whites and black. You speak of all the other races who have been subjected to racism and you are absolutely right to say that, but there is a difference, Nordette. These other races were not brought here to America as slaves. It is that word . . . slavery, that has the debilitating impact that it does. It is a thing that is hard to live down because of the white guilt along with some professional rabble-rousers who bring it up at the strangest times. I want it to end, this animosity and distrust, but I fear it will not for many, many years. You did good with this, Nordette.