And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods of the boundaries of their dwelling place…. Acts 17:26
“Why are you so dark and she’s so light?” asked a man rolling his cart toward me and my daughter Emmy.
We were in the Mt. Pleasant, SC, Walmart. Emmy was two, and her blonde curls danced when my cart moved away from the man and his ignorant question.
I don’t remember what I said. But I do remember that I felt shaken.
Why did it matter that Emmy was lighter than me? And who cared?
I should’ve known that question was coming because it tailed me most of my life. Usually, most people just asked, “So what are you?”
I’m adopted, and happily so. But I didn’t know about my heritage until seven years ago. That’s when questions were answered for me and my kids. That’s when we knew why our hair was curly – and not because we were Italian. That’s when we figured out why we had an uncanny ability to tan. We now knew how to answer the what-are-you question because DNA testing showed I had both Black and Hispanic ancestry.
We all have that thing that nags.
Who hasn’t faced that feeling of inferiority or shame?
Who hasn’t felt stupid or lonely?
Who hasn’t been on the outside looking in?
Who hasn’t hated something they saw in the mirror?
Who hasn’t hated their family situation - because a parent left or died?
For me, the nagging issue has been my skin color. Not because I’m embarrassed – I’m thankful for the way God made me.
But this subject hurts because when I was younger, people would yell, “Hey blackie,” and, “There goes the Oreo,” or, “What is she?” And those were the nicer comments.
Whether well-intentioned or not, people who asked those questions or shouted things in an attempt to be funny were calling my God-given identity and worthiness into question. And even a little kid understands that, for I’d shrivel up and shrink back from who I was.
Race is a perfect topic to cover during Black History Month, and recently Darryl Harrison and Virgil Walker blew my mind regarding race on their “Just Thinking” podcast. Their two-part Episode 19 – in which they discussed National Geographic’s 2018 article about race being a primarily made-up label with no scientific or genetic basis – reminded me about Acts 17:26.
Harrison and Walker led listeners to the following questions: How did we end up with the idea of separate races? And when did people start buying into the hideous notion that one race was superior to another?
The answer is that it came from a Pennsylvania man named Dr. Samuel Morton, whose ideas have wreaked havoc on people for hundreds of years.
“Morton is widely considered the father of scientific racism, and his controversial ideas about the intellectual superiority of the Caucasian people provided a handy defense of the continued enslavement of African-Americans in the US just before the Civil War,” Jennifer Ouellette explains in an article for “Ars Technica.” “He bolstered those views with a broad analysis of 1,000 skulls he collected from all over, sometimes even scavenged from battlefields and the occasional catacomb. At the time, it was widely believed that skull size, or cranial capacity, was a marker of superior intelligence and advanced cognition.”
“Modern genetics has shown no scientific basis for the traditional concept of race; it's a meaningless designation. But Morton ascribed to an archaic worldview that held that there were five distinct races, each representing separate acts of creation, and thus falling into a divinely determined hierarchy. In descending order, they were Caucasians, East Asians (Mongolian), Southeast Asians, Native Americans, and Blacks (or ‘Ethiopians’) at the bottom.”
In other words, Morton gave credence to the lethal lie that one group of people is better than another. His life’s work lacerated untold lives.
But because the devil is not one to leave well enough alone, he used a bellow and blow poke to bring extra oxygen to the fire through a man named Charles Darwin and his irrationally respected tome, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”
Darwin is the man science still worships – the man who believed that certain races were favored over others – the man whose theories have been taught in schools for years.
Is it any wonder we’re at odds?
And now, can’t you hear the devil laughing – that creature who has divided, devoured, and destroyed too many people for too long over something that is scientifically and genetically meaningless?
So what do we do?
We cling to what’s true. We remember what God says in Acts 17:26, that we are descended from one man. And, that race exists.
But there’s just one: The human race.
Amie Beth Shaver co-hosts Alabama Unfiltered Radio show daily from 9-12 a.m. on News Talk 93.1 fm WAVC, and 92.5, WXJC. Her column appears every other Saturday at 1819 News. To book Amie Beth for media or speaking engagement's, email [email protected].
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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