I was watching a TV program from the USA the other day and they were talking about racial prejudice. It made me recall an instance when I was in Bible college. I was listening to one of the students who was having a bit of a bad time with life and he made a comment that really surprised me.
He said that he was tired of the racial prejudice that he was experiencing. I don’t know whether this prejudice was real or perceived because he was having a hard time at that stage, but I was really surprised because I couldn’t understand what there was about him that people would be prejudiced toward.
In my dumbfounded state, I continued to listen for clues as to what he was experiencing and he said something that really annoyed me. He said the prejudice was because of his colour.
And why did this annoy me? Because until he bought it up, it had never even occurred to me that he was an Indian from India. I had been quite oblivious to the colour of his skin.
I can honestly say this because the moment he mentioned his skin colour I leaned over to the person sitting next to me and ask what the speaker meant. Until that point, he was just a friend. He was the same colour as all my friends. He was just,”Friend” colour. I didn’t know any different.
From that point on I was never able to have the same relationship. Because no matter what I said or did from then on, he was someone else. He had labelled himself as a person of colour. Hence it was never possible to relax around him for fear of offending him.
I don’t know if he ever noticed but I missed the person I used to know. He had now made himself someone different.
I wonder if there are some instances when it is better not to talk about skin colour. I wonder if sometimes naming something only makes it worse.