Sunday, February 18, 2007

Race Card

The church in which I work houses two congregations-- one is Christ Lutheran, the other Zion Evangelical Fellowship. The latter is an Ethopian congregation, so they all have dark skin. Yes, it's critical to the story.

I love this congregation, well, both congregations, but I've worked with them (Zion) a little and have had a blast. I know quite a few people in the congregation and most of them know me as the white guy that has helped the choir.

Tonight, I was in the office when a bunch of kids from Zion come in to use the pencil sharpener. The eldest is 12ish, then the next oldest is about 6. I mentioned that I knew who they were and one kid 4-5ish pipes up, "You don't know us, you're WHITE!"

I said, "What does the color of my skin have to do with knowing you?"

"Because we're not WHITE!" he replied.

Oh, I wanted to take him home. I just grabbed him, hugged his shoulders tight and swung his legs back and forth as I lifted him up. This was definitely the highlight of my week.

I've never been accused of being white before, been told that many times, but usually it's like, "you know you're white, right?" I loved it. I was the only white person on that floor, surrounded by black kids and hadn't even paid attention until I was told that.
So, race MUST be an issue to these 5-year-olds, but why?

The world may never know.


Jason said...

In Daniel Dennett's book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, he argues that simplification is an evolutionarily advantageous trait. Those who can simplify their perceptions can sort through more quickly, and will survive more often. Kids, due to their lack of experience, need to simplify in order to cope.

Since Dubya took over the White House, I've theorized that stupid people need to simplify more than intelligent people in order to survive. That's why Dubya thinks in black-and-white.

That's not to say the kids you talk about are stupid. They're kids, and they're supposed to be temporarily ignorant.

Just a theory.

Sean said...

Touche. Um, I don't know if these kids are smart or not, but they did reduce everything.

It was cute. I laughed.