tiny spots of pink and brown
red and yellow
blending together into the palest of pale.
I am white.
Please don’t judge me by the color of my skin.
“Your complexion is beautiful”
I have been told
but now I see the weary lines
of age, of worry, of fear
etched into my flesh
as a reminder of my past journey
and our future struggles.
fades when I am tired
turns red when I work hard
blooms with freckles in the sun.
Please don’t judge . . .
I hear the cry of people
with skin the color of warmth
saying, “we are judged this way all the time,
listen to our words.”
I listen, I hear, I learn.
I also make mistakes.
Please don’t judge me as I try.
I see color.
I see it when my students walk into my classes,
and I reaffirm with myself
that my syllabus is inclusive of all.
I see it in my Asian-American husband’s face
on those rare occasions when we are out together
and we get that look . . .
You know the look I mean.
I see it in when my daughter is standing on stage
amidst an ocean of other young people.
She stands out in beauty
she stands out in poise
she also stands out because she is not white.
I know that this skin
painted on me by fate
carries with it, privilege.
But that is not my whole story.
It doesn’t tell the truth of my past
of being molested
of being hurt
of being rejected
of being attacked.
Not because of the color of my skin
but because of the culture to which I was born.
Sure, one can say, religion is a choice
But being a Jew is not just a religion.
I am not a religious Jew.
The color of my skin
will not protect me against
a person placed in a position of power
who lives with hate of my people in his heart.
I’m not comparing your pain with mine.
I know that they cannot be compared
but you ask me daily not to judge you
by the color of your skin.
Why can’t I ask the same?
I hear you when you say
that a safety-pin is meaningless
and perhaps offensive
But I am wearing one
not because I don’t think you are strong–
you are far stronger and more powerful than me.
I wear it to remind myself that I need to be braver and stronger.
I wear it for those people judged not by the color of their skin
but by the people they love
or their feeling that they were born different.
I wear it for the people who have shown me
that their talents and love far surpasses
the disABILITY defined by their bodies or minds.
I wear it for those who have not found strength yet
and might be afraid.
I wear it because it helps me push my own fears aside.
Please, don’t judge me for that.