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Friday, April 27, 2012

What I currently understand about differences; I am sure I have a lot to learn.

I found this picture online claiming that it was the border between the Baltic and North seas, but with a little more research, I think it was taken in Alaska. Some of the water is fresh water that has been created from glacier melt. Because of the differing densities, the bodies of water are mixing much slower, so much that is appears as if they are not mixing at all. I don't know how valid this argument is, but this picture really got me thinking.

America is all about borders - that law in this state and this law in that state, moving west and pushing forward the frontier, this race/color verses that race/color. Why can't these boarders mix?

This is apparently the border between Belgium and The Netherlands, right along side a cafe. Can you imagine eating your lunch in The Netherlands and then stepping over to Belgium to take a stroll? What if it were like this between California and Mexico? Maybe you are thinking: that is not the same thing - Americans and Mexicans are just different. How different? (2 Cor 4:18) Seriously, let's think about what really matters. (Weightier Matters, Dallin H Oaks)

I am an English major emphasizing in teaching and therefore, American literature. The more I read, the more I feel sick when people talk nonchalantly about slavery or color. The more I read, the more frustrated I get with causal descriptions of what race is. Do you know what race is? Seriously, think about it. In my multicultural education class we learned that Race is a social construction that categorizes people based on physical appearance. Ethnicity explains where each individual comes from. So what race am I?

When I was little, I always thought I was White. Actually, I thought everyone whose skin wasn't really dark was White. Then my Asian and Mexican and Middle Eastern friends told me they weren't White. I came to find out that at one time in American history, people who came from Ireland were not considered white, or people who came from Bohemia or Italy - anyone who came in as an outsider, an "other." The definition of white has changed over time, and it really isn't just about the lightness of ones skin. What a racist term. I don't want to be white.

But then, am I Caucasian? Someone told me Caucasians came from the Caucus Mountains. I didn't come from there. A quick skim over the Wikipedia page confirmed my opinion that Caucasian is about as racist a term as White. So what race am I?

Who cares what race I am; that is not what it is all about anyway.

This is a picture of the class divide somewhere in Brazil. How could you seriously sit in one of those balcony swimming pools, look down on all that poverty and seriously enjoy yourself? Things like this, interactions between people who are different from one another, don't have to be like oil and water.

Now I am not saying we are all the same. We are not. We are all very different from one another. But I have come to the conclusion that engaging with "the other" is the only way to truly express one's self. A community of people function like a body (1 Cor 12:12-26). If you begin to draw a stick figure and only draw the circle, the drawing does not reach its full meaning until the body is attached. Each of us with our differences makes up a part of a beautiful whole (for more, look into relationality).

So regardless of what race society says you are or what race your neighbor is, I want to always remember that society made up these classifications, and God made up people who look different, talk different, act different - all in different beautiful ways - but all with the same amount of worth as children of God with divine potential. There doesn't have to be borders between us unless we create them.

For more: No More Strangers  by Alexander B. Morrison and Concern for the One  by Joseph B. Wirthlin

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