As my very own tribe of one (half Puerto Rican, one quarter French, one quarter Lebanese) I am, these days, at a bit of a loss for guidance. No, not as to what to call myself; I gave up on that years ago. My suggestion of Pecanese was rejected because it sounds just like the terribly non-awe-inspiring froufrou dog the Pekingese. And, please, spare me the hate mail, you dear Pekingese aficionados out there. You know I am right about that description.
No, my conundrum lies in whom exactly I need to affix my melanin-based hatred to.
For those unfamiliar with that term or the science behind it, melanin is the complex polymer that determines skin color, among other things. The more of it one has, the darker the skin will be, and the less of it one has, the lighter the skin will be.
And if you have seen my picture or cast about in your mind what a half Puerto Rican, one quarter French, one quarter Lebanese will look like, you are beginning to figure out my difficulty.
The vast majority of the time, I get classified as white. But more times than you can imagine, I have also been assumed to be black. Some of the African-American bus kids I picked up for church a few years ago thought I was, in their words, "one of us!" Another dear lady that we Christmas caroled for a few years ago gave me a black preacher statue for Christmas because, again, she thought I was. I wrote a column about that statue called "The Things We Have That Are Hard To Explain." That statue still sits on top of a cabinet in my office; I smile at it every time I see it.
Most of the times I simply call myself "A highly educated hillbilly with a perfect year-round tan."
But I digress from my question of hatred.
Hatred does seem to be all the rage these days. And the fact that it is melanin-based, one would think, would make for some easy-to-understand, handy-dandy battle lines. Whites over here, blacks over there, and let's have at it. But, alas, a closer look at things blurs those lines considerably.
To begin with, there are people like myself, and, I might add, like former President Obama, whose lineage is not at all "either/or," and they know it. Then there are the truly hilarious instances of people like white supremacist Craig Cobb, who trumpeted his pure whiteness, only to have a DNA test reveal that he is actually only 84% white and 16% sub-Saharan. If that proves nothing else, it proves that God has an amazing sense of humor.
Then there is the fact that even among the "defined" races, there are different histories and experiences from family to family. As clearly black Darrell B. Harrison, dean of social media at Grace To You put it on Twitter, "To my white brothers and sisters in the Lord: I do not carry on my back the burden of 'hundreds of years' of slavery. In fact, my ancestors were slave OWNERS. I am asking you, in the spirit of Ephesians 4:15, to please stop treating black people as a tribe. Each of us is unique."
So then, what exactly am I — what are any of us — to do?
Surprisingly, it was once again Twitter that early this morning provided me with a wonderful answer, one that is entirely biblical. It came from two black ladies. Miss Lin @Misslinlou said, "I love white people, they are my family." Sharika Soal @SharikaSoal84 tweeted, "I like white people." At a time when such an opinion is not quite popular, those two ladies, and everyone else like them who refuses to hate anyone who has lots or little of melanin, is a wonderful breath of fresh air.
I think everyone knows the first few words of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world"
All of them. Whites, blacks and every shade in between.
To hate based on amounts of a complex polymer that determines skin color is foolish, unbiblical, unscientific and frankly tiring. I may not know exactly what I am, but I do know that hate, in and of itself, is corrosive, and I want no part of it. So if you see me out in public and there is an empty seat at my table, come on over and have a seat and some fellowship.
I really don't care what color you are; God loves you, and I do too.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.