North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

May 8, 2013

Danielle Cater: Judge by character, not by skin tone

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — Let’s tackle a tough issue this week. Let’s talk about race. A song I use to be quite fond of during high school said, “Pardon me, your epidermis is showing, sir. I couldn’t help but note your shade of melanin.” And that just about sums up how most people look at the race issue. We feel as though others, or ourselves, need to apologize for the color of their skin. If you didn’t choose your skin color, then I suppose that an omnipotent God decided to bless you with the color you were poured into and you should probably be quite happy with the skin you are in.

If you look around our local communities, you will be blessed to see people of all races. There are black, white, Asian, Hispanic and Indians all right here at our back door.

Last week we had a missionary from India come and stay with our family for a few weeks, and it is always a treat to learn from different cultures. He even prepared an authentic Indian dinner one night and we ate with our fingers just like they do in India. Of course, this only lasted about 10 minutes for me because I’d rather get to the food than enjoy the culture.

But one thing that I did notice about having someone from India on board with the weekly activities is that people really don’t seem very racist around here. Everyone acted like it was no big deal to be waiting on or serving an Indian who speaks broken English and is clearly out of his element.

When we took Suresh, our Indian friend, to the Sno Shack, the elderly gentleman who runs the joint made a quick point to talk with Suresh about a friend of his from India. It seems like instead of trying to alienate the foreigner, people tried very hard to identify with him and find a common thread so that they could get to know him better. I feel like this is probably what we have really struggled for in the issue of race. Not that people would be set apart because of the color of their skin, but that they would be accepted for who they are instead of what they look like.

Racism is a very touchy subject in the south and it seems that as other places progress in one direction, we sit still, unmoving in our mindsets about the issue.

America has come a long way on this issue, but we must be careful not to take it to any extremes. We can get so caught up in equality that we do an injustice to one race while leveling out the rights of another race.

Is it wrong to have a Miss White America? Yes, I believe it is. In the same breath, is it wrong to have a Miss Black America? Yes, I also believe that is racist. The same goes for a Miss Hispanic and a Miss Asian America. If we are going to be free from racism, then we have to quit putting up dividing walls because of color or origin.

I personally believe that it should be illegal to ask the race of a person on any form of application. When we are doing scholarship applications, what does it really matter what the race of the student is? Look at the grades and the character and that should give you all of the information that you need in order to choose a winner.

When hiring for a job, race should never been considered as a bonus or a negative.

Look at people’s character and not their skin color. In my lifetime, I have had friends of many different races. One of my good friends who lived with me for over a year is black, and you know what? We get along perfectly. Race was never a factor in our living arrangements. Furthermore, when God called my parents to be missionaries to India, you didn’t see us get all huffy because they were going to preach to people of a darker skin tone. No, we love Indians. I love people of all races and I really do try to look past people’s epidermous when dealing with them.

When we step off into the rights and wrongs of mixed marriages and things like that, I realize that our communities are still trying to take in the fact that we are all equal, so I will save that one for another day. But for today, look around at the people you shop with, watch ball games with, go to church with and talk with. Look past their skin color and into their eyes. Who knows, it just might open your own eyes to a whole new world of acceptance and friendship.

Don’t be racist. If you are, then we all become losers in the end.