In a video making the rounds on social media, African-American comedian Sam Adams declares, “I’m not black.”
Further, he tells an all-Caucasian audience in Provo, Utah, “And just because you’re light, doesn’t mean you’re white.”
Adams notes that black and white are “the two blandest colors in the crayon box.”
You know what? He’s right.
Black and white have their place. Black is an excellent color for a chalk board. White is a great living room trimwork color. But neither truly describes human skin.
Adams tells how he made this discovery, and credits the U.S. Census. Every 10 years, they ask a lot of questions, he said, including about the race of people in the household.
There is a list typical descriptors, such as “black or African-American,” “white or Caucasian,” “Pacific Islander,” but there’s also a little box to write in.
That write-in box inspired Adams to find his true color. “How do you do that?” he asks. “Go to the hardware store, go to the paint section, Grab those little paint chips.”
He said it took about 15 minutes to determine that he is “a shade of brown called Chocolate Indulgence.”
Recently, I did as he suggested.
I went to a local home improvement store and picked up a bunch of paint swatches, from light pinks to dark browns – or, more specifically Sweet Sand to Turkish Coffee. My true color seems to be Southern Peach.
Then, I did a survey of a few real people. I let them chose their true color – or at least the closest from the random array I had selected from the store.
We had fun talking about our choices. Ginger decided she is Mojave Sunset, while Liam is Tinted Apricot and Jen is Buttery Pink. Marlo is definitely Romance and her friend Corbin is Quaint Peche. Lavon is, I believe, Brown Bark.
My friend Jim, who shared the video with me, says he is Strawberry Chiffon.
Paint colors have such luscious names. Who could resist Caramelized Onion or Fudgesicle or Peekaboo Coral? Your true color might be Pink Glamour or Bombay Beach or Moco Java.
My husband the artist is Peach Maison, he said.
He also reminded me that years ago, when he was painting and drawing a cartoon series inspired by kids’ “darndest things” quotes, he chose a color called Mac ‘n’ Cheese for the cartoon characters’ universal skin tone.
Even in art, skin has to have a color. It might as well be a fun one.
But our skin really shouldn’t define us as people.
The point of Adams’s comedy, and the point I want to make, is that there are so many more ways we could differentiate ourselves that have nothing to do with the hue of our skin. Are we kind? Are we helpful? Are we funny? Are we brilliant, creative, eager to learn? Do we listen?
We should be more interested in what people do for others, how they treat animals and old folks, whether they are team players on the field or in the office.
It makes so much more sense to choose to like or dislike, trust or distrust, hire or not hire people based on what they’ve got going on within their hearts and brains, rather than the color packaging they are wrapped in.