These are troubling times of war and of economic despair. Yet there is a sense of hope. 50 million people in this country lack health care. Yet there is a sense of hope. We speak of immigration as if we are talking about cattle. Yet there is a sense of hope. Hope transcends troubles. Hope is not all or nothing, not black or white; hope is the color of water.
James McBride is an author. An author with a white mother and a black father. In 1996 McBride published a tribute to this mother in the form of a memoir. When McBride asked his mother about the color of God, she responded, “God is the color of water.”
McBride’s mother raised twelve children in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects. “Her children became doctors, professors, chemists, teachers – ” When she married a black man in 1942 her family declared her dead – and abandoned her forever. The title of McBride’s memoir is “The Color of Water.” He recounts the compelling story his mother told him at his prompting.
This very personal account of racism, of the marriage of race, is the allegorical study of America. Great struggles, tremendous emotion, sad bigotry, all overcome by education and prosperity, is the story of America.
An arrogant upstart country, rebelling against the authority of dictatorial government and class discrimination, living in the ghetto of wilderness and frontier, rising above the troubles. Sheltered by hope, hard work, fierce pride and determination, and tempered by the faith of a loving but disciplined God – the outcasts of the American frontier rose up to be the most powerful nation in the history of man.
Barack Obama stands in the cusp of the allegory. His color is that of water. His fluid message of hope seeps into the cracks of discrimination, filling the void, bringing forth the bonds of unity.
When McBride asked his mother if he was black or white she answered, “You’re a human being.” This
is the answer to the problems of opposing faiths, of health care, of immigration, of race, of gender, of war, and even nationalism.
We are human beings.