A small request, please do not call me Redbone. Referring to a person by a physical trait is not only rude, but also socially shallow. Upon meeting up with a colleague or acquaintance would you greet him or her with, “Hey, Pale Skin”. Is it appropriate to refer to a person you’ve just met as, “Big Forehead”, “Tall & Skinny” or “Thin Lips”? Maybe we should start greeting folks with, “Hey, Hairy Arms” and “What’s up, Bubble Butt”.
The other glaringly obvious aspect to this is that those who use the term “Redbone” are black people. We urge other races to view, judge and accept us by virtue of our inner selves and, all the while, we view, judge and refuse to accept other black people simply because of their skin color. I could go into the origins of this derogatory term and write about the how and why, but really, I think all of that is irrelevant. This as a human issue, with lack of respect being the main problem: Respect for ourselves and for fellow individuals.
It may seem hypocritical that I’ve chosen to reference another of my physical attributes as part of the name of my blog, while writing about not wanting others to address me in a similar manner. However, this is my right: To refer to myself in whatever form I wish. Individuals have the right to refer to themselves as “Redbone” or “Dark” or “Yellow” if they chose to do so. However, when referring to fellow human beings, we should try to respect the fact that we are all much more than our outer shells.
What did the man say? “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The Conversation Turns To Race
Looking into his eyes I saw desire for so many things. His skin was very dark. He was also short, with stubby fingers and feet. He was also very smart and quick-witted. He spoke at me about how much money he’d made last quarter, as if I’d asked. When I told him where I worked he commenced to name-dropping. Evidently he knew VPs and other suits in the organization. He was very smart; he wanted to be sure I understood this.
The conversation turned to race when he inquired about mine. This was asked in as polite a manner as he could muster. Really, there is no acceptable way to ask the question, “What are you?”. He told me I had it easy; being “light skinned”. He talked about the way white people treated him like an imposter when he walked into a meeting at work. He said he had to work so much harder, so much smarter than his white counterparts, just to be considered mediocre. I saw a mixture of emotions in his eyes: bitterness, anger, pain, confusion, distrust, doubt, skepticism, longing.
I said that I wished we could finally just move past the race issue. When I meet someone, skin color is the last thing I notice. Will we ever transcend this pettiness and come to a level where we see people as humans? As I consider this encounter, I wonder if he thought me fortunate to have the luxury of this viewpoint only as a result of my own skin color.
Sipping the last of my dirty martini, he offered to walk me to my car. He didn’t want me to go. He enjoyed our conversation. I wasn’t interested in seeing him romantically, but I also enjoyed our conversation. By the end, he’d stopped bragging about how much money he makes and who he knows and I was finally able to talk to the real person underneath all that faux swag.
He was still talking about race. I said, a little annoyed, “Ugh! Can’t we move on from this!”. He looked at me with so much pain in his eyes and said, “But what about how I’m treated? Just because I’m black? That’s real!”. And my heart broke for this man and for everyone who suffers this kind of abuse. And I said, “I know it’s not right and it’s not fair. And you don’t deserve to be treated like that. You are absolutely entitled to feel angry and hurt.” I didn’t know what else to say.
We parted ways. I regret that I didn’t share something about Jesus with him. Jesus suffered so much abuse while he was here.