Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Black Face

I was remembering today an episode from the old Star Trek series. In this episode, Kirk and the crew encounter two members of a half-white, half-black race. Split right down the nose, half the face is white as snow, the other half black as midnight. One of these aliens, as I recall, was played by Frank Gorshin, whom you may remember as a popular vocal impressionist. Also, he played The Riddler in the old Batman series. 

In any case, these two aliens were at odds with one another, and one of them, the non-Gorshin alien, was seeking asylum aboard the Enterprise, pursued by space ICE agent, Gorshin. Timely, right? 

Well, Kirk and his fellow starship  officers were having a difficult time understanding just what the problem was, and as Gorshin endeavored to explain the situation, he mentioned the "obvious difference" between the two.

"Difference?" Kirk questioned. 

"Well, yes. Of course. Are you blind?"

Puzzled looks from Kirk and McCoy. A famously raised eyebrow from Spock, the Vulcan. 

"Well, you are both black on one side, white on the other," Kirk noted. 

"Yes! But I am white on the right side, while he is white on the left!" 

Ah ha! 

So, it was a matter of racial identity; and the superiority, as was implied, of the one over the other. 

I remember another time when I found that my stepdaughter, a teenager at the time, had been instructing her much younger brother that he needed to be "a proud black man". To me, there seemed a couple of problems with this aggressive sort of racial instruction. One was that though they were both half black and half white, the stepdaughter appeared in color and feature to be black, whereas the stepson appeared to be white. I wondered if this might cause a problem for him at his young age, personally and socially, with how he viewed himself and how he was viewed by his peers, who still thought of each other at this age as just kids rather than colors. 

Moreover, it was the desire of his mother and I that he think of himself first of all as a member of Christ, in whom there is no black or white, male or female, Jew or gentile, but all are one. 

And so I took the girl aside and explained to her that we would like the boy to center his identity in the goodness of Christ alone, where all are equal, and equally precious.

This did not go over well, as I recall. She spoke of the necessity of pride. She said that he had to own who he was, and to hell with all this fishy Christ stuff. Lol.  

I've always wondered how people arrive at the idea of pride in race. It's not as if race is something we ourselves have accomplished or achieved. We were simply born that way. What remains up to us, most importantly, and regardless of color, is how we live. Or, as Michael Jackson said, It don't matter if you're black or white

It does matter, of course, to the white-on-the-right-side alien. And it always will. But being proud, in turn, of being white-on-the-left-side seems hardly the answer to me. 

I dunno. Maybe I'm being impractical. Fishy. But isn't there finally a realm beyond race? Will we not ultimately reach the point where racial differentiation is simply ludicrous? Or, as Spock would say, illogical?

Well, You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. 

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