Thursday, January 31, 2013


When I guest blog for my wife I don’t really like to scribble down anything serious.  Certainly I don’t want to write anything that would make any of her regular readers question her discernment for allowing me to take the reins for a few days.  Usually I’ll jot something that is amusing (at least to me) or shallow, or that pokes a little fun at Mrs. Fishbowl herself (so that she realizes what a poor decision it was to let me write in her little world).

Sometimes though, I can’t help myself.

I really don’t like color.  I’m not talking about the fact that my house would be decorated solely in winter colors (greens and blues) and every room painted with walls of white were it not for my wife.  I’m talking about pigment.  I’m talking to the notion that somehow we’re supposed to be predictably different according to the inherited hue of our skin.  I’m referring to the fact that sometimes, even in the 21st century, there are people who can’t get past melanin.  I’d rather not think about it.  I’d rather believe that we were past all of this to the point where we did judge people by the content of their character.  Then again, I’m not an ostrich.

Certainly, I have a vested interest. I have two boys.  One is black.  One is white.  That’s what I’m told.  Obviously I can tell the difference in their appearance, but to me they’re just my boys.  I love watching them play (mostly) and fight (sometimes) as brothers.  When I choose to think of race relations the words of Dr. King echo through my mind—of black children and white children walking hand in hand—I get to see that in my own family.  I am happy to see how far we’ve come, but I am aware of how much further we have yet to go.

I guess this is a pretty long introduction to the story I really wanted to point out.

In a soccer game just this last Tuesday, Jozy Altidore, an American who happens to be black, was playing in a league match in the Netherlands.  Throughout the game he was subjected to racial mockery to such an extent that the referee wanted to suspend the game.  You can read about the incident here (link).  Grant Wahl from Sports Illustrated writes about the entire situation much more skillfully and comprehensibly than you will gather from me on this blog.

Fortunately, on this side of the pond, we’ve come a long way since Jackie Robinson.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence on the other side of the world. 

Jozy, however responded with the utmost professionalism and dignity.  He continued to play even scoring in the match that his team won.  Afterwards when asked about the incident he responded,

"The way I was raised, we never looked at black and white.  My family has always stressed to me, yes, you will come against things that are different for a young black kid growing up.  Let's be honest about that, we're still not over that.  But at the same time, they always told me you can't judge anybody by their color.  You have to respect everybody for who they are and what they stand for."

And when asked about the incident he said he'd be praying for the offending fans.

So really I just wanted to give a huge shout out to Jozy Altidore.  If you don’t follow soccer you might never have heard his name before.  But I wanted to make sure you knew it today.  Certainly he is not alone in dealing with this issue, but the class and grace that he showed in dealing with an ugly situation is worthy of acknowledgment.

I wanted to retell the story to make sure you heard because clearly we still have work to do.  And clearly there are a lot of people who need our prayers.

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