May 2, 2015

The M&M's Test

The Perfect Analogy

I will never quite grasp the concept behind any kind of bigotry, but racial bigotry is, to me, the most puzzling concept of all. The fact that some people choose to focus on our differences and refuse to see that our similarities are much more numerous, saddens me beyond belief.

In the great big candy-bowl of life, the M&M's come in many different colors, but if you seriously believe that the green ones taste better than the red ones, you are either fooling yourself or you have been taught to believe that, and haven't really tried them. I dare any of you to grab a pack of M&M's, close your eyes, eat one at random, and tell me what color it was. The concept is not only silly, but it defies explanation as to why it is even a question at all.

My Generation

I call us the "Sesame Street Gang" and we grew up with the cast of characters in that neighborhood as pretty much our only choice in daytime TV that wasn't a soap opera or talk show.  For me, and thousands of kids like me, we never thought about the differences in color between Mr. Hooper, Gordon and Maria - any more than we thought about the differences in color between Ernie, Bert and Big Bird.

We watched children of all backgrounds and heritages, singing and dancing and laughing together as we all learned to read, write, share and care for each other. I sometimes wonder if maybe this wasn't the most perfect television show ever produced.

When I first encountered racism at about the age of 8, I was confused and disgusted by the very thought, let alone the shocking attitudes and twisted logic that existed behind this strange way of looking at the world.  I can remember having a serious crush on a young lady of strong oriental heritage, and was best friends with the black girl next door - who was "colored" back then. That word often made the two of us laugh, because there were so many different colors in the crayon box, and we imagined what it would be like to have magenta skin, or maybe teal. We actually talked about our differences, felt each other's arms, then laughed, got up, and went to swing.

The Future

Yes, bigotry, hatred and profiling still exist in this country, but for most of the people I know, this is a much more tolerant and loving place than it used to be. Maybe I am naive, but with all of the focus on our differences being dissolved as we progress, I find hope. Not only have mixed-race couples become very common and accepted, but we are actually making progress toward accepting same-sex couples in the same way.

In the end, we are all M&M's, and while some of us are nuttier than others, the differences in our shells is one of cosmetic appearance only, and needs to be celebrated as a very small part of what makes us unique individuals in the bag.

I hope that my grandson, and all the other children who are prefect swirl-cone mixes of different racial and/or ethnic backgrounds, will continue the advancement that was started on that special street where, once you swept the clouds away, you were on your way to where the air was sweet. This bit of honest feeling comes, as always,

From Grandpa's Heart...