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The Colors of Acceptance This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I remember when I was a little kid and I would color eyebrows green. In my drawings, faces were orange and skies were purplish, clouds had yellow streaks and flowers stuck straight up in neat little rows. But of course, there wasn’t a doubt in my boastful 5-year-old mind that my pictures were among the most beautiful in the world. Every time I drew a picture I would recolor my surroundings, pausing to glance at the choices in the crayon box only once or twice in their entirety. Now as I look back on my wrinkled, yellowing drawings, something tugs at the workings of my heart.

I laugh to myself as I imagine what my honors art teacher would say. Her eyebrows would scrunch together and the ever-deepening frown lines around her mouth would appear. “Wow, that’s really… original,” she’d say about the blue and red men in the picture. “But maybe you should try to stick to the real colors because it’s important to learn how to draw real things. It’s also important to learn how to draw different kinds of people. People aren’t just red and blue!”

Real. What is real? Maybe my reality is different from yours, I’d think, but never have the guts to say.

Then she would probably chuckle at her own joke and find me a new picture to draw, one with two men of different races standing together or some other picture of “acceptance.” That had been our latest focus for art class, and she is determined to indoctrinate it into our heads that people are different and that it’s wonderful. Acceptance is wonderful. Art is wonderful. The whole wide, diverse world is just simply wonderful!

But really, people aren’t just black and white either—or even tan or yellow or brown. How is that any different from making my people only blue or red? The colors of acceptance can’t be contained to one box of PrismaColor pencils or Crayola markers. She is so wrong—how can you capture the essence of diversity on an 8 by 11 piece of paper?

Maybe my childhood drawings show what true acceptance is—it’s the courage to be colorBLIND. It’s the courage to make people blue or red or orange and to color skies purple. It’s the audacity to not even glance at the crayon box while coloring. It’s so much more than a bunch of different races all hanging out together; in that, each is still distinct, separate, and isolated in its own way. One of those pictures doesn’t show real acceptance because you can still see the physical differences—you can still sense the tension. Those pictures tell us that people aren’t the same, when really, what are we if not the same? They tell us that skin color still matters in acceptance.

If you reach true acceptance, nothing matters but the person inside. You don’t even see those colors anymore! Little kids can teach us so much about being so innocently and effortlessly colorblind in all that we see and feel and do. Not caring about color. Not worrying. Not noticing. That is acceptance.

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starflyer said...
Nov. 7, 2011 at 7:17 pm
wow. that made me wish i was a little kid again. things were so simple back then.
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