I see your skin.
I cannot deny that.
I see the color of your skin. That it is different than mine. I can hear the way you speak, that it is not the same as me. I see the way you get side eyed while I remain unseen. I know that some of you are not from here; America is not your home. I hear about your holidays that are not held up with the same weight as mine are. I understand that here we do not honor you the way I am honored. I see that we are different. This is an indisputable fact. We were not raised the same way. The conditions we are living in are not the same.
We are different.
I see the way you talk and how your cheeks go red when you cannot think of the English equivalent to the word in your head. How your language gets rejected and is reduced to nothing more than a nuisance when it is included on some menus at fast food joints. When white people complain that they’re catering to people who just need to learn the damn language. Like in order to earn the right to be here you need to change who you are and the very words you speak, just in order to fit in. Like now your Facebook posts are written in a language that isn’t your native tongue. How you’re expected to reject your past life. Like that means nothing now that you’re here. As if this country was not built on immigrants. As if we were not a melting pot of cultures. But still you wonder if you should change your name in order to accommodate some of the people here because you are sick of them mispronouncing it. As if you have an obligation to them. As if you were a burden.
I see your culture. I see that you listen to more American pop now because that’s what you have to do. How you dance like we do. How your clothes adapt to the latest trends of those you see around you. I see the way you are trying to fit in. I see the bleaching creams. The hair dye. The makeup styles that you never used to try back home. I see that sometimes you can be self conscious of the way you are because there is this idolization of beauty we have here and light skin is the epitome and you’re not there. You’re out of place in a world that is set up for one set of individuals.
I see the pride in you. There might not be shame, but I see the way you are treated these days. How people like me look down on people like you who have no problem with showing their hometown pride. Who wave their country’s flags on the streets of mine. But I see the hate and the glares as you live your life. I see the way you are expected celebrate with us on the Fourth Of July. Despite this ever present gleam in your eye, I can tell there are others who want it to die.
I see the lack of diversity in the media here. I notice the despair when another movie comes out focusing on someone like me and having someone like you be nothing more than a footnote in the story. How you are a stereotype instead of an individual. That those who dare to write characters that represent you do a poor job, because its people like me, light skinned people, who write these characters. They don’t know what it’s really like to be in your shoes so its not true. You get generalizations about what your life is like and I see how that angers you. And it should. That no one knows what you’re been through.
I see the stereotypes. I see how you break them. How making statements about your people group do not mean a thing. I see that when you step out, when you are in the spotlight, when you make a mistake, you do more than stand for yourself; you stand in for your entire group. If you make a mistake, its not because you are human it is because your people are flawed. I see how characteristics are made based on your actions on one occasion. I see that people make assumptions about you based on the color of your skin. You are assumed to hold the views of everyone like you. As if you cannot disagree with someone who looks like you.
I see your identity. That when people describe you, they don’t use adjectives centered around intelligence or beauty; it is about color. You are not the smart friend or the friend who likes rock music or the friend with the degree; you are the colored friend. The friend who is not white. You are the minority and somehow that defines you as a person. Apparently color comes before your being a human being. As if that were more important. I see the division that is made because of this fact. That you become the one colored friend in a group of all white and people start to appropriate your culture and steal it from you as if it were a trend.
I see your protests and your rallies and your causes. I see your personal issues that get turned into politics. I see how when you talk about these thing you are told to stop being so political but it’s beyond political when people are dying and getting beaten and profiled for crimes they did not commit. When people are thrown into categories unfairly. When people like you are treated as less than by people like me. It becomes more than politics but you can’t speak because you are here in this country by grace. Like you owe it to people like me to stop asking for more. Because at least you aren’t slaves anymore so you should be content. But I see the fear in your eyes because you are not sure what might happen to you now that your skin color has become a political issue instead of a gene issue.
I see the racism. Can we call it what it is? Racism. You being less than me because of something as arbitrary as skin color or culture. I see that you are being killed. That you are tired of being killed. I see the pain in your eyes and the aching in your chest. I see that your hashtags are more than trends but battle cries to stop the violence. I see that people misunderstand you. They silence you. They tell you to get over it. They tell you it’s fine that everyone in our history was white so everyone in our movies should be. They tell you it’s fine that our history was one sided. How we worship and idolize racists and sexists and slave owners. That it doesn’t matter. I see your fear. Fear of those in power. Fear of authority. Fear because we have created a system where you mean nothing. Abuse is ignored because it is expected. Because you are not like us.
I see my privilege. You don’t think I can but I do. I see how the best assumptions are made of me and the worst of you. I see how people try so hard to be something I am naturally. I see the way everyone in my country looks like me and acts like me and I don’t have to try to be pretty because models are light skinned with blonde hair like me. How guys would rather date dumb white girls than smart colored girls. I see the way police don’t think anything of me but they do of you and how unfair that is. I hate that when I want to help I look like I have a savior complex. But I don’t want to be the white savior. I don’t look down on you because of your skin color. That was never what this was about. It was about this system we have made. It is about how my heart breaks when I see you and your pain and I feel empathetic and powerless.
I see, but sometimes I do not understand. But you have to understand that I am trying. So tell me when I’m wrong. Explain to me the things I don’t get. Inform me. Talk to me. Let’s stop this us vs. them. Lets’s engage.
Because I see that though we are different, we are the same. We are human beings. We are created by God and loved by the Most High. We are not skin color. We are more than bone. We are souls that extend far beyond our human bodies. We are all beings with ambition and hopes and dreams. We have different backgrounds but we all know what it is like to be afraid and to love. We share things in common and why can’t we focus on that instead of hyperfocusing on these things that will tear us away from each other? It sounds so simple but I know its not. Let’s talk. Let’s stop ignorance and stop making assumptions. I’m sorry if I make assumptions. I know there are a million and one things I do not know but help me to understand.
I see your pain. And I am on your team. I am your ally. I am fighting for you and rooting for you. I hope you see you succeed. I am here to do what Christ did for me. (My Savior, who was not the same skin tone as me might I add.) I am here to serve. Because this life isn’t about me or what I want. That is why I will fight racial injustice and stand up against those doing wrong.
I see you. I stand by you if you will stand by me.