On Sunday, the children’s message at church was about “what kind of penny are you?”
The church member delivering the message had a bunch of dark and oxidized pennies and a bunch of shiny new ones. She asked the children which they would rather be.
I squirmed in my seat during this message. It should have been a simple little lesson, but as a grownup, the characterization of even a penny as being dark made me uncomfortably aware of how often our language demonizes dark or black as being a bad thing.
In these very difficult times, insulated white people need to think carefully about what message we are sending with our words, not to mention our actions. Do we really want to tell small children that dark equals bad? In this case the lay minister used the word mean to talk about bad behavior.
I saw a quote in which someone said that the United States is ripping off the band aid of equality and democracy and underneath it is a seething infection of racism and prejudice.
As a lover of words, I hope that my words also speak love and tolerance – and even using the word tolerate makes me squidgy. I need to do better than tolerate people of different colors and ethnicities. I need to love them wholeheartedly.
And I need to do more than just love – I need to help spread the word. Maybe someone reading this will think twice about characterizing dark as bad. It’s not just political correctness; it’s reality for many people in our country.
Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?