by Deanna Klingel
The article in the magazine is titled “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race.” It’s very scientific, and quite interesting. I imagine anthropologists, biologists, geneticists, and other people who know about such things compiled it. But, I know it’s simpler than this. Item number 4 on the list says, “Skin color really is only skin deep.” It made me smile.
Years ago we had foster children in our family. Toby came to us directly from the hospital at five weeks, weighing little over five pounds. He was a beautiful baby who was the color of a Kraft caramel. We named him Toby because his real name, Timothy David, was exactly the same name as our Timothy David. His last name began with letter B, so we put his initials together, TB, and called him Toby.
Our blond, blue-eyed son Timmy was three at the time, and he adored Toby, black eyes and fluffy hair. Toby was propped up in his jump seat while I folded clothes while Timmy crawled around under the table peeking up to make Toby laugh. I looked up to see what Toby was giggling about. Timmy was licking Toby’s arm, then licking his own.
“Hey, Timmy, honey, that’s yukky, don’t do that. Can you do something else?”
“I’m checking flavors.”
“You’re doing what? Oh. I see. And what have you decided?”
“Him’s the same flavor as me.”
“Are you surprised?”
“I thought him tastes like a Easter Bunny, but nope, he doesn’t.”
“Hmm. Let me see.” I took a little taste myself. “Hmm. You both taste like Ivory Soap. Imagine that!”
See, it doesn’t take a scientific formula to learn that flavor is only skin deep. It only takes a three year-old’s knowledge.
Another time when Toby was a toddler he was running on the driveway and fell. Timmy felt the worst because he’d been chasing him. Toby snagged himself a great raspberry just below the elbow. It was a raw gaping skid mark with the skin peeled off and blood seeping from the under layer. All the kids, Sally 6, Debbie 5, Timmy 4, Jeff 3, and Jimmy and Toby both 2, gathered around so tightly I had to move their heads to cleanse Toby’s wound. Jimmy held Toby’s hand, and Jeff soothed his fluffy baby Afro. Timmy, with his thumb in his mouth, held onto Toby’s foot. No one was saying anything but, “Sshh. It’s okay, Mommy’s going to fix it.”
But, they were all quietly looking, studying, and drawing their own scientific conclusions. Under that thin layer of caramel colored skin, the flesh, the blood, the body’s machinery, were all raw and red. Exactly like theirs. The color really is only skin deep. They weren’t saying anything, but they figured it all out. And it didn’t take years of scientific study.
(© 2015 Deanna K. Klingel)
Deanna K. Klingel resides in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband. They have seven grown children and eleven grandchildren. Deanna and her husband are both converts who were married in the Methodist Church and were baptized Catholic two years later. She is the author of 9 books, blogs at Books by Deanna and previously contributed Jake to JOYAlive.net.