My life is very influenced by color. It always has been. My first memories in fact are not of the soft melody of a lullaby or the chattering of two older sisters, not of clear images of the faces or surroundings that established home to me, not of scent or taste or tears or laughter... but of color; colors that to this day remain my favorite; colors that evoke emotion and tell me a story just by existing. Color continued to affect my feelings towards the things that entered and exited my life, just as I think it does everyone. When I was six though I came to discover the reason color may have influenced me more than most: I had terrible vision. So when others were using faces and shapes to familiarize themselves with the world, my strongest tool was color. Colors of clothing and places and movies and nature.
But never skin.
I know I have always had a naive personality, but color and race was never something I saw. Just recently I spent some time with the group of people that I saw almost every day when I was younger: my dance classmates. Granted I was by far the youngest of the crew I was still shocked by my new unfamiliarity with these girls. The things I would identify them by now were not at all the same things of my younger self. So much so that some of them were a race I had never distinguished or assigned to them before. This awareness disconcerted me, made me actually a little ashamed. I can no longer see through the eyes of innocence, of truth, bound by this arbitrary mindset put upon me by the attitude of America over the past 8 years, and by my own susceptibility to this influence. Sadness truly overcomes me though when I look at the kids I work with and see that the small amount of time they should've had to welcome in the world with open hearts has been torn away. They instead spend their time judging the world with open eyes and artificial learned stereotypes. They can not be blamed though, it's only human to be affected by atmosphere. It is impossible to remain completely untouched by an entire culture. We cannot expect to walk through a fire unscathed. Instead it is up to us to put the fire out with a wave of truth, of humanity, of justice, of brotherhood, of love.
America spent such a short period of time coming out of the healing phase. It was a time when things felt “happy.” It has always rung true that the entertainment industry and pop culture reflects and is influenced by the feelings of our people, and vice versa. It has always been a give and take relationship, but enough truth can be found in the overall emotion that is given off by television and movies of any era. So though of course I'm only referring directly to my small corner of America, I think its safe to say that the “happy” feeling was generally widespread. I'm blessed to have had a childhood in this time. I know what it tastes like, that sweet sensation of joy, the carefree spirit, and I know how possible it is to live like that. That time should have allowed my generation to grow into the people who would eventually finish unleashing the unthinkable power of a united society. But it was cut short. We were stripped of our innate ability humans possess which was finally effectuated in us to see all the good, to explore the creativity and uniqueness and innovation of an age not held back by the confines of branding. There were always jokes, always stereotypes, always connotations, but not so much that a person was reduced to a mere culmination of those meaningless things. The stereotype was assigned to the individual, not the other way around. That is where we are now and it is a dangerous place to be. I don't believe there truly is much “racism” anymore, in my personal experience we don't have the hate in our hearts that is necessary for that. We can't have it, it doesn't belong to us. We have fall prey though to seeing race first. As a result of this we have been forced into “political correctness,” we have become immensely more sensitive, unable to care for the person next to us because we're too busy watching our own backs, individually insecure on every level, fostering a chip on the shoulder of our youth who have no justification for it whatsoever, the overall lack of trust and sense of unease, and the list goes on. It has invaded every area of our lives and blurred all sight beyond color. It all snowballed so fast, like a ribbon unraveling, but that can also be the saving grace in a fickle people: the ability to turn everything around and get us back to where we were 10 years ago so we can start building from there.
The ease with which we talk about race could have been a positive thing once upon a time. But that isn't the case here and now. Especially with the lack of knowledge and understanding of true history, people need to be made aware of (or reminded of) what matters. And color shouldn't be on that list. Race doesn't matter. Yes, cultures should be celebrated, yes stories should be passed down. Yes, we are all different, we are each of us unique. But that should not be pointed out in any light which is not a positive one. We need to be shown what our country has been through, and has made it through, and we need to honor that purpose, that mission, that sacrifice. Our way was paved for us, and all those who dedicated their lives to that purpose, all the sacrifices made to pave it, weren't made so we can turn right around and walk back. Inflated news stories and figmental prejudices are tearing us apart... and for no reason. Justice is blind, and trying to open wounds which don't even exist in the majority of a people is setting yourself up for failure. Our differences make us strong, make our bonds tighter, make our hearts bigger, which in turn creates a society which is allowed to thrive and shine as an example. So stop looking down. We're tripping on our own shoelaces. Look up and see what's in front of you. We can only move forward if our eyes are up, and we can only move forward together. We have shown in our past that we are strong enough. We are good enough. We don't need to build a city of angels. We can build a city of man.