I Had to Ask
I substitute teach music classes at a Christian private school. When the school owners banned my children’s book (a story of magical horses and metaphors) I thought of quitting. But I wanted to stay for the kids. I thought that might be what God would want me to do as well.
It was important to me to find a way to plant seeds about healthy race relations, equality and self-esteem, even if I couldn’t use my book as a teaching tool. I wondered how I could make a difference with my creative hands tied behind my back. My thought was that if the rule was “Christ-centered” themes only (with no magical metaphors allowed) I would approach the subjects closest to my heart straight on. So this past week I asked the elementary-school-aged students, class by class, what color they thought God was.
I Learned From Them
The first class I asked was made up of about 25 first-graders. The first child with his hand up was an American boy with brown skin and brown eyes. He said “White.” I was surprised to hear it, but not surprised. I felt bad that this was his best guess, but I kept going with a smile and said, “Nope!” There were other guesses before I explained that God must be a rainbow – every color – all the colors that we are. The Christ-centered way in which I explained this was that scripture says that we are made in God’s image. If we are in God’s image, God must logically be all of the beautiful colors that we are.
I could not resist also referencing the geographical location of Jesus’s birth, because I know it is rare for people to bring it up in a class setting. Jesus, based on the way people look in the area of the world in which he is said to have been born, would have most likely had olive or brown skin and brown eyes, rather than the blue-eyed white Savior that is more widely depicted.
One little girl, noticeably beaming with joy, raised her hand with great excitement. When I called on her, she burst out with, “I have brown eyes!” I was beaming too, and I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “That was MAGICAL.” I hope that the little boy who was conditioned to think that God is white – maybe from artist’s depictions or things he’s heard from other adults – will always keep it in his heart that God looks just like him! And that we are ALL equal in importance and beauty.