One of my favourite videos of all time is a conversation with a little boy in Malaysia professing his love for a girl at his school.
When she merely utters his name he is taken aback and displays the most priceless reaction of affection. You can't help but get caught up in the moment and feel a sense of joy for the situation, even though they are only children.
However, the ending has a puzzling rhetorical question:
'Our children are colour blind. Shouldn't we keep them that way?'
At first glance it's easy to think the video means that the children are literally colour blind—struggling to perceive the difference between red and green.
However, cultural context provides the real insight: the boy is of Chinese descent while the girl is from Malaysia. The innocence of their youth allows them to see no problem in liking one another because of this.
And yet, apparently, it bothers the older generation.
Let's party like it's 1968 (never again)
I have already written an article saying why I think everyone's a racist, but it has become more apparent why this issue needs continual discussion.
This month marks the 12 month anniversary of Michael Brown's death by a police officer in America's Ferguson. The past 12 months have not seen moments of significant reconciliation or progress, nor even apparent change in culture. Instead there has been rioting, protesting and more evidence of unnecessary police brutality.
A video posted by TIME Magazine (@time) on Apr 30, 2015 at 4:30am PDT
Earlier this year, a police officer was filmed shooting a man eight times while he ran away—unarmed. And if it hadn't been caught on camera then the police officer's report would have allowed him to get away scot-free—because he gave information that completely contradicted the video evidence.
It's appalling, disgusting, and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. However, when browsing the many outraged comments, one struck me as a standout:
Can everyone stop saying this was a white police officer who shot an unarmed black man? Because this was an awful shooting of an unarmed human being by another human being!
Far too easily we fall into a world of categories, stereotypes and labels. They seem to promise comfort and understanding when we see uncertainty, chaos and questions. But I suspect they actually do more damage than good.
King of Pop
When Michael Jackson was alive he had the world at his fingertips. He won multiple awards, sold out worldwide tours and had the media follow him like he was the last of an endangered species.
And even though he is no longer here in person, I really wish his words lived on:
If you're thinking of being my brother
It don't matter if you're black or white
Not only should the colour of someone's skin be a non-issue, but it should actually be something that never even comes into consideration. As Jesus said, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'.
As a human being.
Do we ever stop to think about what that means in the face of the mild racism that exists inside all of us?
My challenge to you is to remove the labels from people who are different from you, and see them as human beings. Not categorised by ethnicity or colour, but bound by similarity and created in the likeness of God. Try to not speak out words of categories again, and see just how conditioned we've all become to putting labels onto one another.
Say, 'another human being' instead.
MJ's challenge, on the other hand, might be to:
Heal the world,
Make it a better place.
For you and for me
And the entire human race.
These words can still live on if we choose them to. They might still be the best modern interpretation of Jesus' words that we need right now.
Matt Browning is a storyteller and lover of ideas. He is currently setting up a social enterprise for youth unemployment in Rotorua, New Zealand – taking youth who are dropping out of high school or coming out of youth prison, and hiring them full time so that they can get the experience needed to be hired in the future.
Matt Browning's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/matt-browning.html