Seeing people in terms of race adversely affects us all

When we were young and expressed feelings of being mistreated, our father would admonish us not to automatically claim racial prejudice as the cause of whatever was going on.

He would tell us not to go there as the first cause, but not to discount it either. Skin color adds another layer to common concerns.

As children, our parents taught us to behave in specific ways to avoid calling attention to ourselves. Our parents felt the need to monitor and continually remind us to act in socially acceptable ways, limiting our expression as naturally exuberant children.

Rev. Karen R. Shepherd, Burden of Skin Color, Rev. Karen Shepherd (right) with her sisters, Beth (left) and Cassandra (center), and a photo of their father.

Skin color is a mantle that is placed on our shoulders from birth and from which there is no escape.

The society we live in does not allow it. It is deeply rooted in racism and the denial of humanity.

The failure to see our humanity leads to injustices committed.

I am proud of who I am despite the mantle of color placed on me from birth. I would not have it any other way.

However, I would like to see the mantle lifted for me and all of my brothers and sisters of color. Preconceived notions brought on by the color of our skin cause people to behave in ways that do not consider, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “the content of [our] character.”

The tendency to see people in terms of skin color adversely affects all of us, whether we realize it or not.

Those in the majority group stop at the surface and do not venture past what they see. We are all diminished by this, because it brings about separation and is in direct opposition to the idea of oneness.

I want to see the burden of color replaced by the blessing of color for all of us, so that we may all express ourselves as the free, unlimited children of God we are in truth.