Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pigment Perplexities, Part 2

(This is the second part in a two-part series. To read part one, click here.)

I desire sincere and honest relationships with Ugandans. However, even with those I feel close to and have spent a lot of time with, I still find myself wondering if they view me differently because of my skin, culture and background. I want to be treated as a friend and as a sister in Christ, not as a "foreigner."

At times I find it frustrating to be seen as "different" simply because I have less pigment in my skin. This "different" may mean being treated very well, almost like a guest of honor in a home or church that you might visit.

Or your "dollar skin" might give a seller, shop owner, or motorcycle driver a heads up that they can charge you a higher price, because obviously if you are white, then you must be "rich." Having a white among a group of Ugandans can actually cost the Ugandans more money if they are traveling, eating out, etc. If a Ugandan is associating with a "mzungu" then it may be assumed they are "rich," too.

Speaking of "pigment perplexities..."

During a recent trip on the boat to the island, I received a "marriage proposal" from a 50-some-year-old-man from an island village. When he learned he couldn't have me because of ministry rules, he asked me to find him a mzungu wife among my friends. With some exasperation I asked him and another Ugandan man sitting nearby why they wanted white wives, when there were beautiful and intelligent Ugandan women. "Because they (white women) make us feel good." I am definitely NOT attracted to that kind of thinking!

Once again, many Ugandan men see white women for only their skin and fail to see that we vary greatly in our personalities, backgrounds, character, etc. One size does not fit all! Honestly, I don't like to be "liked" or treated differently because of my skin color. But it is a reality, which I believe is an effect of our fallen world.

We want to put people on different levels. You're from this country or area? Then you belong here. You're a woman? Well, you fit only there. You only went this far in your education? Well, then, I know where you belong.

We "classify" others by skin color, height, hair (or lack thereof), appearance, background, family, heritage, nationality, language, marital status, disability, educational and professional accomplishments (or the lack of them), proficiency in a skill, etc.

I despise India's caste system, but we can commit the same sin our hearts and minds. How God must hate this.

"For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt." - Deuteronomy 10:17-19

I confess I have committed this sin of partiality - often without even thinking about it. "Partiality" means "A favorable bias or prejudice." I judge the book by the cover, the people by what I see with my eyes. Yet, the physical body is only a shell for the most important part of the person - their soul.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." - James 3:17

"He doesn't care how great a person may be, and he pays no more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all." - Job 34:19

The Bible clearly condemns partiality. God intends for us to honor and respect our fellow human beings, but not to lift up some and despise others. Each person is made in the image of God and therefore has His "stamp of approval."

I created him. I designed her. I loved them so much that I died for them. 

Let no one judge what God has called good.

Images Source: Microsoft Office Clipart

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing Ruthie!

    I went on a mission trip to the Solomon Islands in 2009, and I watched the native people treat us 'white people' differently. For example, some of the other young women in our fly-n-build team received marriage proposals, because the young men want to get out of the country, and marry someone 'rich'! (they even prayed that it would storm the day we were meant to leave, so we would be delayed, and they could spend more time with them! lol.) We also found out that even church leaders considered themselves less worthy than white people, but thankfully some of us had a good talk to them, and managed to convince them that we are all equal in God's eyes, and our own :-) indeed, the islanders are our 'superiors' in hospitality and selflessness!! ^_^
    Interesting thoughts to ponder on :-)