At about age 4, when I first realized that skin color was quite important to a number of people, I was asked, “What color are you?” I was quite puzzled by this question. I never noticed that there was a difference between anyone’s color, let alone my black father or white mother. Now that this question was asked, a feeling of confusion entered my very colorful world. I decided to ask my flower child of the sixties mother, “what color am I”? She genuinely responded and said, “You are people color”. Naturally I asked, “What color is that?” She explained that people come in an array of colors, and people color encompasses all the colors of the world. All of the colors are beautiful and what really matters is the beauty that comes from within. Kind of deep for a 4 year old, but the flower child that I am thought that “people color” seemed pretty cool. Because my home was always filled with a rainbow of people, it seemed like a perfect explanation. We are all “People Color”. It wasn’t until I was school aged and began to venture out of the safe cocoon that was created by my family, that I began to question “people color” and if such a thing could exist.
I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood, but through religion and family was also exposed to predominantly white environments. In both situations, my “people color” caused much discomfort and cruel treatment towards little old me. The black kids teased me about my “white mother”. The white kids teased me about my “black father”. Both sides were quite explicit in relaying their discomfort with what my “people color” represented. This was quite a blow to my very euphoric world. The remainder of my school years were shadowed with this ultimate cloud of not belonging, and a quest to figure out why this “color” thing was so important to so many people. It wasn’t until college, that I started to study race relations in America, in literature, and globally that I began to search within for this belonging that I was yearning for. I surrounded myself with a rainbow of “people colored” thinkers which made me realize that the meaning of “people color” from the very beginning was the color that illuminates from within.
As the 2008 election grows closer, I must ask some very important questions to all that are reading this article. Is “people color” something that is possible in America? Can we get past the turbulent racial history of our country and recognize the global concerns that connect us all? Can we see past the color and gender of our future presidential candidates and vote on the very real issues that are facing all Americans? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I beg you to weigh the last three debates, and imagine that each of the candidates are “people color” and explore their issues with an unfiltered open mind. Make your judgments based on the candidate that you feel will sincerely and genuinely make a difference in the issues that are important to you. I believe in the inner power of “people color” and that as a country there are far more commonalities in our everyday experiences than divisions. Lets show all of the politicians that we are deep thinkers and take offense to polls that show women will vote for McCain/Palin just because they share the same gender/race or that African Americans will vote for Obama/Biden just because they share the same skin color as Obama. It is deeper than this, and it is up to all of us to do some self reflection and choose a candidate based on real substantive reasons. Let’s shake up these polls and demand that we not be lumped into outdated divisive social categories that don’t take into consideration the commonalties that unite us all.
Alicia Booker, Tyrone