What color is President Obama? He is not white. He is not black. He is brown! Color hypersensitivity for us American’s disables us to see clearly. Scarred from 100 years of racial slavery, followed by another 100 years of abusive injustices, has programmed most of us Americans (black and white) to maintain a bulwark of racial separation.
Sixty-two years ago, living in Columbus, Ohio, as a seminary student, I encountered a young married couple who were disowned by society. Neither whites nor blacks wanted them. They were a biracial couple. The jolt and shock of their marriage violated the societal boundaries of that time; defiance of the racial bias of that day. This couple was shunned by most everyone. They found acceptance and love exclusively from a handful of Christians.
In all the history of humankind, as well as that of Christianity, such marriages took place in most of the world with little or no alarm (most clearly exemplified in South America’s history). History and early Biblical recordings uphold the right to marry for any mutually consenting adult man and woman.
However, great racial amalgamation has slowly developed here in the United States over the past 60 years; since my years in Columbus. America is in progress for the eventual elimination of racial bias and separatism. Time will bring all Americans to stand united in a brown complexion. Our President is brown. Black Americans seeking equal status in a white-man’s persecuting society, see black when they see their president; therein ratcheting up the black citizenship and their ownership of this country.
White Americans see black when they see their president. Many white Americans see President Obama as an outstanding outsider with extraordinary gifts yet racially blemished. Rightfully and equally, white Americans could replicate the stand of black Americans, claiming Obama as white. The “defilement” by another race does not impede a black embrace; but certainly does for the white race in America.
Many whites and blacks today struggle to bestow equality and honor upon each other; perhaps best demonstrated through America’s segregated housing developments.
White Americans are rapidly losing their controlling grip on America. Percentage-wise, every year sees a shrinking of their numbers; therein they are compelled to share their economic and political dominance with non-whites.
Racial equality has had a long painful road in our country and it still has a long distance to go. It is amazing how much hardship has been endured for centuries due to turning a deaf ear to the Divine directive, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” [Mt:10:19].
Yes, with the therapy of time, we are all bound to be brown - Americans and hopefully color-blind as well.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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