Saturday, July 24, 2010

Guest Post: Opening Doors

People are different. There's no escaping/dodging/evading that fact. I find it kind of puzzling when people try and pretend that "Hey, we're all just the same."

Um, sorry. We're not. When I hear someone say they don't see color I always have to restrain myself from calling them out. Of course you do! You're just not comfortable with the fact that you see it! But confronting someone with a truth that they really don't want to own is near impossible. It's been my experience that there are some truths that a person has to come to in their own time.

I'm not saying I don't nudge – I do. Sometimes my nudges turn into actual pushes. Today though, I'm discussing some of the more gentle ways to lead people to and through sticky truths in a relatively pain free manner. How? Educating through books.

I will tell anyone and everyone I can get to stand still long enough that I adore reading. Books are addictive for me; through books I've lived thousands of years in the past and future. I've been different ages and genders. I've died and been resurrected. I've even lived in places that have never existed outside the imagination of some terrifically creative mind.

You know what the best thing is about all of that? It's an experience that everyone can share – all they need to do is pick up a book. Reading a well-written book can literally transport a person and let them live life as someone else for a brief moment. Reading can help bridge the gulf that lies between Different and Understanding. It can demystify the Other (the Other can be defined as anyone outside an individual’s immediate experience. Other does not denote bad).

I am by no means saying that by simply reading a book that a person can understand all of the complex human experiences that another person lives. What I am saying is that

books can open a door, allowing a glimpse into something previously unrealized. Quite often, all it takes is a glimpse to know that we are more alike than different in how we love, hurt, and learn.

We are blessed to live in a time when so many different options are available to readers. There are books written by authors of every race, creed and orientation imaginable and these books are available for every genre and age group. You just have to look around. Ari's blog is a terrific place to start but it's by no means the only place to find books that can help bridge the gulf. If you are reading this then you have at your disposal one of the greatest tools of all time: the Internet. Do some searches, be experimental, read some excerpts.

What you discover may just surprise you.

Kathi Wallace is the author of Assiniboin Girl, a Young Adult book released by Drollerie Press
and available from Amazon. She has two more books that will be released shortly. Kathi can found most days on her blog or on Twitter as Kathi430.

Read an excerpt from Assiniboin Girl

Thank you so much for this guest post Kathi! I too scoff at the notion that people don't see color. We aren't there yet and even so, seeing color can be a good thing. I think all readers love books for the doors they open. What do you think?

*I will be out of town July 24-August 1st with not computer access. I have some good posts scheduled to run while I'm gone (hopefully they will post!), so be sure to check back here :) I look forward to reading your comments and emails upon my return.


  1. I guess I don't agree. I think the first time you meet someone, you see defining physical characteristics of all sorts, but after that, you see personalities more.

  2. I think even if we somehow get to a place socially where race is no longer "an issue," becoming 'color blind' still wouldn't be a goal. Even without the brutal history of racism, our different cultures and heritages will be enriching and those differences should be acknowledged in a positive way. A completely homogenized society is the sort of thing dystopias are made from...

  3. I think being colorblind does people a disservice. It's like making someone invisible. If I don't see color, I don't see you. I'm a Black girl and if you don't see that, then you are negating a whole history and experience that comes with being Black. Not to say that race is everything, but you can't suddenly decide to be colorblind when American society teaches you not to be.

    That being said, I agree with books opening doors to new cultures and new experiences. However, people have to be inclined to pick those kinds of books up. I can name tons of people who only read one type of book, with one type of character and nothing else. I don't understand how they can't get bored with that, especially when the real world is filled with many different cultures and people.

  4. A lot of people are afraid to "see" color. It's like they feel if they acknowledge a color while -for example- describing someone, they will be perceived as racist.

    We all need to acknowledge all our different colors - what we need to do rather than be afraid to even mention a color, is for everyone to accept all our different colors. Otherwise, life will just continue to be awkward (at best).

    I myself, love all the different colors in my family. With all the girlfriends and cousins and in-laws we range from bone white (my dad) to caramel, golden (my mom) to light chocolate (a lot of my cousins and two of my daughter - almost - in laws).With my grandchildren we have have "vanilla creme" and "chocolate milk". We have Panamanian (I need to learn more about) and "texican", Mexican and Cubano.

    Hopefully, everyone, or more people, will learn to accept and relish in our differences while at the same time accepting how alike we as humans really are.

    I've heard a few people say they don't see color, and to be fair to the people I heard say it, I didn't feel they were trying to ignore the array of colors and cultures - I think they were trying to put forth that they don't judge by color. Phrasing definitely needs to be worked on though.

  5. @rhapsody-I agree, first you do see physical appearance, but you gradually only see personalities. Although there will always be one or two incidents that will reinforce physical differences.

    @Angela-I wholeheartedly agree. I don't want us to become a color blind society. I want us to stop judging each other based on color but I also want us to embrace and celebrate all cultures.

    @Najela-Ooo I like that, 'if I don't see color, I don't see you'.

    We need to show people that you can't just read what you know. It's fine if you know what you like, but within that particular genre, do you read diverse books? Say you like science fiction. Is all your science fiction reads about white people? If so, you need to re-evaulate your reading habits.

    @Mardel-I wholeheartedly agree. We need to embrace all the different colors that people come in. I realize that when people say they don't see color they are trying to show that they aren't racist/judgemental, but like you said, phrasing needs to be worked on. Actions speak louder than words, so instead of telling me that you don't see color, show me that you don't buy into cultural stereotypes.


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)