May God help us to find a fresh way of seeing the world--with all its many colors.

Avoid These 4 Obstacles to Seeing the Color of Life

In rural Maine, conversations around race seem remote, theoretical, and (frankly) like somebody else’s business. Colorblindness is nigh unto snow-blindness here:  whiteness all around and a certain sightless condition that follows hard after it. Raising sons in the 90’s with a narrative of color blindness involved earnest conversations on the way to Portland or Boston, thankful for the opportunity and mindful of the privilege.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I’m invited into a completely different way of seeing the world in which we take note of the colorful array that God created. The challenge, then, is to exchange the privilege of not noticing race for the greater privilege of taking note.

Cara Meredith is one of the voices I have listened for as she navigates her own way toward seeing color and blazes trail with her words. A white woman married to a black man, Cara is raising two mixed-race sons, and she shares this emergence from her own white bubble in The Color of Life: A Journey toward Love and Racial Justice. She has one eye on the future for her two children and the other cast back into history which has been shaped toward justice by the influence of her father-in-law, James Meredith, the first black man to graduate from the University of Mississippi in the early 60’s.

Navigating the Obstacles

Navigating a collision of cultures takes courage and the way is often unclear. Walking a “road paved with apologies and lessons yet to learn,” (209) Cara’s memoir calls readers to hear the “tramp, tramp, tramping of feet” toward justice, and she points out the narrow places and perilous potholes in the road:

  1. Fear — The unknown — the risk of stepping onto unfamiliar ground — is enough to keep all of us in our safe corners. The power of love calls us to a brave knowing and a new awareness of the stories of others. Will we overcome fear and pray along with Cara?

“Lord, give me the eyes to see and the ears to hear the pain and the hurt around me.” (68)

2. Differences — The Merediths found that their differences required an awareness of their lenses of racial understanding. Rather than chalking them up to temperament or gender, Cara made the brave choice to lean into James’s unique pain as part of her healthy partnership in their interracial marriage.

3.  Swooping — Cara’s ministry to youth extended the love of God across boundaries of race, but it became clear to her that this had nothing to do with “swooping in to save a brown girl’s experiences of racism and hate.” Opening her ears, she began to listen in a new way to evidences of the real and material effects of race.

4.  Ignorance — Like many readers, I smiled at Cara’s edgy description of James as her Hot Black Husband (HBH!). I thought the “little caramels” was a cute designation for her sons. Only after hearing the real names of black and brown victims of racial injustice did Cara realize that her nicknames robbed her family members of their dignity.

So she apologized.
She admitted that her good intentions had been cancelled by a lack of understanding.
Confessing our ignorance may be the first step toward awareness.

Beginning to Notice

As we make room for paradox and uncertainty and live our way into a new and clear-eyed knowing, we will find a fresh way of seeing the world--with all its many colors.“According to one study, out of about 3,400 books analyzed, people of color accounted for only 22 percent of children’s book characters.” (152) This statistic became reality on Cara’s own bookshelf, and noticing led her to action. She wanted her boys to see illustrations that included faces like their own, strong protagonists who reassured them that theirs was also an active role in their own stories.

For all of us, noticing may require some homework to chisel away the granite of our solid “knowing”. As we make room for paradox and uncertainty and live our way into a new and clear-eyed knowing, we will find a fresh way of seeing the world–with all its many colors.


Many thanks to Zondervan for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

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I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase The Color of Life: A Journey toward Love and Racial Justice,  simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

61 thoughts on “Avoid These 4 Obstacles to Seeing the Color of Life”

  1. I appreciate this timely (for me) post, Michele. Our church is hosting an adult discussion on race this Sunday at noon. I plan to attend. As the grandmother of mixed race grandchildren, I am ordering this book today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We definitely view life through our own experiences, it is part of what make people so unique and interesting. Although, it can also create a type of blindness to the sorrows and joys of other people. Thanks for the review, sounds like an eye opening book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and Cara argues effectively that it is in the process of allowing ourselves to see and to enter into the sorrows of others in meaningful ways that we are beginning to learn to see color and to respond appropriately to our differences.

      Like

  3. It’s true. It’s easier to deal with the color of life when it matches your own. And understanding the past is necessary to make better choices for the future.

    I will for sure begin checking out a wider variety of books at the library for my boys!

    This sounds like a challenging book, and I hope to get a chance to read it!

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    1. Yes, I love broadening our world with our reading choices. One measure I used for choosing books in this houseful of boys was to find picture books with a strong female protagonist.

      Like

  4. Confessing our ignorance may be the first step toward awareness. <- That's a powerful statement, for sure! Thanks for sharing this book… Another to add to my list!

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  5. There is actually only one race of man. God created man, not men; and from this one man came all the 7 billion men who now live on Planet Earth. Just because we are different colors doesn’t make us different races. Climate and physical environment caused us to adapt to our environment (God’s idea) and different colors of skin, eyes and hair arose, along with different shapes in nose, lips, eyes and bodies. For all we know, the lighter skinned peoples are the adaptation and the darker ones closer to the original. Whatever, we are one race….the race of man and we come in all sizes, colors and shapes. Isn’t God wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This line especially caught my attention: “Confessing our ignorance may be the first step toward awareness.” That proactive approach makes strong sense to me. A humble response opens the door for dialogue, compassion, and perhaps even healing. Thank you, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a lot to learn on this topic, but was encouraged to realize as I read that the author of the book was also on a journey of realization that began with that admission.
      I think this probably applies in all kinds of contexts!

      Like

  7. You always have the interesting books to review. This one, I will have to check out. So much to learn from her experiences. Disparaging was never in my mother’s category in life, and neither in mine as children were raised. However, much to learn about others and their pain throughout life. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly, we gain a wealth of insight by entering into another person’s viewpoint.
      So good to hear from you, and trusting that you are surrounded in these challenging days by love and peace.

      Like

  8. This sounds like a great book. It is very easy to be stuck in the way we see the world and not even to realise how it is from a different perspective. It is important to listen to one another and learn from people’s different perspectives and experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I am so glad for the arising awareness of racial differences not to exploit them but to embrace the realities of others. I am always in search of books for little biracial babies because my children do not have toys or books with characters that look like them. The characters are either my color or my husband’s color with no in between so I have to make conscious decisions to seek and find places, books, people, play things that my children can identify with. I also must accept that neither my experience nor my husband’s experience may look anything like theirs and be open to hear their realities.

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    1. I, too, have had trouble finding dolls that resemble my kids (they are mixed black and white). We’ve just settled on having dolls with a wide array of skin tones and hair types. I have been able to find a number of children’s books with mixed-race families.
      Michele, I’m not in the habit of dropping links to my own blog in my comments, but I’m wondering if this might be an appropriate exception? I had a post a couple years ago where I listed 18 children’s books with interracial families: http://ofthehearth.com/18-childrens-books-that-feature-multiracial-families/

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing this book. It sounds like one that I want to read. God made us of varied color skin and He made us with hearts that He wants close to Him. I have hope sometimes that we will look past those colorful lines and see the beauty that is there instead of division. I grew up in a Navy family and to parents who did not see color. We were surrounded by variety at times and that was good. Other times, everyone was the same color. But I really did not want the divisiveness that color sometimes made so I chose to love all colors. I had a dear co-teacher friend who moved away. Upon a visit back to our school, I introduced her to my 1st graders in a CA school and they asked if she was my sister. We looked at one another and said, “Yes.” We are!! Years, later, when I taught in Washington, D.C., the children thought I was “light-skinned” and one of them. I loved the innocence of little ones.
    God seems to be nudging me back to the blog. I have begun writing this week. Feels good, Michele. It will be a year since Kenneth died…June 7th. It has been really hard for me to write most of the time, yet God has been so faithful to walk with me as I travel this new season of my life. I am living close to Him and loving the life before me….even without Kenneth. God loaned him to me for 25 years. I am grateful. Take care, ~ linda

    Like

    1. It’s wonderful that you are finding your way back to writing again and that it feels good. It must be time, and I’m glad you are following the nudging of the Spirit in this. I can’t even imagine how it must have changed every single minute of your days to have Kenneth in heaven and you still here on this planet. Thank you for faithfully persevering by doing the next thing He assigns to you and living in gratitude. It’s always SO good to hear from you, Linda.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Michele, for your words are an encouragement to me too! Yes, this is a one-step-at-a-time season for me. But God is so faithful to be right with me and I am so desiring to pursue Him as well. loving you, ~ l

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Michele, you steadily grow my list of books I want to read. Adding this one as it is such an important subject. Thank you!

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  12. Oh wow–how interesting that Cara’s father-in-law is James Meredith. My father graduated from the University of Mississippi (or Ole Miss as it was called) so this is especially of interest to me. I’ve heard about Mr. Meredith for years. Thanks for sharing about this book and Cara’s journey. Sounds like a book I would love to read.

    Like

    1. This IS a book I would expect you to like. Really the history is fascinating and James Meredith has contributed a foreword to the book and appears within the narrative, so there’s a great interweaving of history that I loved.

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  13. Thanks for this great post Michele. I have not read this book. I have read several recently that have helped me to take notice of the people around me and I believe they have made me a better listener, and a better friend. Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Like

  14. I live in a corner of the UK which is predominantly white, but as a child grew up in a very mixed ethnicity town. I find quite often people who are born and bred in this area have a lack of awareness of how their language can be racist and hurtful because to them “its just the way people round here talk”

    #abitofeverything

    Like

  15. I’ll be looking for this one. It sounds very relevant to me and my family!
    I love that I am seeing more and more books (specifically in the Christian market) that address the issue of race. It seems like an “elephant in the room” that has been ignored for too long.

    Like

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