Diplomatic Notes

The myth of the goodness of skin color

Jesus once said, what is in the heart of a man will come out of his mouth, and out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. He was pointing to the fact that the most important aspect of our existence is what is in our hearts and not what’s on the outside. I am currently in South Africa and with the atrocities of apartheid, one can attribute the diabolical system to the skin color of the perpetrators. While it is true that countries with predominantly white populations have oppressed darker-skinned populations in the past few centuries, it is incredibly shortsighted to assume that their skin color is the reason. The problem with this assumption is that skin color has no ability to be good or bad. To assume that someone is good or bad based upon their skin color is just as absurd as the apartheid system.

If we take a stroll through history, we will find that every race has committed atrocities, held slaves and perpetrated racism. In fact, I had a conversation two days ago with a resident of the KwaZulu-Natal region and was informed that the Zulus who are Black, routinely enslaved other tribes and treated them no different than the apartheid perpetrators. It is a myth that skin color can be good or bad, yet this narrative is constantly pushed – especially among oppressed people – which actually complicates race relations and inhibits progress and true resolution. The real problem is not skin color but ideology. If any group adopts a flawed ideology that group will be flawed. If skin color were a determining factor, white people would be bad by birth and Black, brown or Asian people would be good by birth. This is obviously not the case and we should put a stop to this ignorant philosophy.

The color of your skin is like the paint on a house. The paint does not determine the character of the house and the house cannot be judged by its paint. To determine what is good or bad, you have to enter the house and see what is on the inside. If we persist in judging people and attributing goodness or badness to the paint, it will result in an endless cycle of futility. When the pandemic hit in 2020, several Asian people were targeted and assaulted as if their skin color and ethnicity had something to do with the virus. The absurdity of these actions is unbelievable yet it continues to persist.

There are many in the world today who have not studied history and do not realize that man has been incredibly evil to man throughout history, and no race has been exempt. Black and brown people once enslaved white Europeans; Asians once did the same. Every race was once involved in barbaric colonialism through brutal war and oppression.

All one has to do is read and realize that during those periods, it was common for all people groups to go on conquering expeditions where one group would capture another’s territory and subjugate them. The Arabs and Muslims were one of the greatest colonialists and brutal rulers. Empire building and expansion by brutal subjugation was a norm, so attributing the barbarity of it to one group of people only perpetuates the narrative that skin color has inherent goodness or badness. The Bible says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In other words, we are all capable of the same thing, so never become prideful in your attributes. We are all subject to the same fallibility.

Will the current myth be exposed, or will people of various races continue to perpetrate the myth of the goodness or badness of skin color? The answer is, unfortunately, that as long as the true culprit is arrested and charged, the mythical villain will remain untouched.

There are many white people and many Black people who do not subscribe to the idea of racism. By grouping all together, regardless of what is on the inside, we deny the most fundamental of human principles – the dignity of personal convictions and values.

Martin Luther King once said that he wanted Black people to be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. He was essentially saying stop judging by the paint on the house. There is no goodness in skin color and may the myth of goodness of skin color rest in peace or piece.

• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to pastordaveburrows@hotmail.com. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.

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