I was born prior to 1962, so I have seen a number of crayon boxes in my time. My own children used to color in coloring books, too, but mostly they made their own drawings, with pens, pencils, markers, crayons, chalk, mud, charcoal, you name it. I was never a stickler for staying inside the lines, I just wanted them to use their imagination to draw whatever they wanted. My children grew up in an extended family whose flesh came in many colors, so sometimes they had to blend their own crayon colors, and sometimes they used what was available in the box.. Of course, sometimes they used markers, because they were handy, too.
I have a drawing that I have kept on my refrigerator a long time. When my youngest was 6 she drew a picture she called “Mommy and I can touch the rainbow”. Actually, she had to use a couple of pieces of paper that day, but I am using one of the two pieces for this particular entry. I actually keep both on the refrigerator in a plastic sleeve. She used markers for this particular drawing.
Twenty five years before that drawing there was a movement called the civil rights movement that helped change the name of the Crayola “flesh” crayon to “peach.” Renaming this crayon was a way of recognizing that skin comes in a variety of shades. (from http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0872797.html). It was a start. When I was a young child no crayons matched the “flesh” color of my mother’s skin, or my grandfather’s skin. I could’ve used brown or black if I used a crayola crayon. I don’t remember color being much of an issue when I was younger because people of every color were in and out of my grandfather’s house all the time. I do remember one of my grandfather’s best friends had the darkest brown skin and the name of Radio. I see color differently.
When I had children, I saved some of their drawings. Here it is fifteen years after my daughter made that drawing, and I looked at that drawing on the refrigerator todayand said, it’s about time the rainbow has come through and brought something many in that 1960’s box of crayons only dreamed of…a fresh new color of opportunity.
My mother used to have this strange perspective, as though it was important to let me know the “aliens” were watching us, as opposed to some overbearing God-figure keeping us in line; she had a more humorous take on life. She’d say, what do you think the aliens would think of…insert subject. Obviously the aliens were much farther down the evolutionary track than we were, and would find much of what we do on earth humorous. I’m glad they have kept watch all these years.
So today, the take is…IF I WERE AN ALIEN and you had to tell me…how would you refer to the color of one’s flesh so the aliens could “color a more accurate picture” of what’s going on here? Well, I can’t pick one color exactly, so I tell it my way.
In the illustration my daughter uses brown and black in the rainbow. Maybe it’s because she chose to use markers rather than crayons that day. Each of us is “circled” and each of us has arms that become colors of the rainbow. Or it could be the other way around…kinda’ a chicken-egg thing, I’m unsure which came first. Through the eyes of a child life is so simple. So is this. Read it again.
I still have the eyes of a child myself. Today I tie together the rainbow and some real life wires. Let me explain. There is always more to the story that it would at first seem.
A few days ago, I rescued a sparrow that was inside the house. It needed help in order to be free, as the cat was lurking nearby. I locked up the cat and in the process of ushering the sparrow to freedom, I untied some doorway beads that I have had since my mother died. They had been tied for a couple of years with a piece of wire on one side of the doorway (which was handy the day I tied them). One side has a off-white tassled tie-back holding back the beads. My mother used to make draperies so I have a few of those around. Anyway…In order to keep the bird from going back I had to gently block the doorway to keep it in one room until I could get hold of it. The piece of wire went to the floor and I forgot about it until yesterday when I picked it up and put it on the dresser. For some reason I still have the wire, so I took a photo of it to use it in the post today. The piece of wire holding the beads back has been replaced with a piece of black chain. Oh, I could have a matching set of tie-backs, but it isn’t what’s important here.
Did you know there is a reinforcement thread that runs through a phone line? Some wires contain reinforcement and some don’t. That wire is a piece of old phone wire, and here is where I make another connection. I hadn’t really thought about that “thread” in the wire until today. On the 27th I did a collage using the bundled wire from a comic strip (I don’t remember which one at the moment), part of which I show here. In the entry I mentioned a flesh color field and said, “Sorry, I didn’t have my crayola box in front of me to know what else to call that color.” In the collage you see the bundled wires. You also see a grandfatherly figure with his feet firmly planted in a history book. I just make the connections. In 1962 America started thinking of flesh as more than one color.
I call my daughter’s rainbow the color of possibililty, even though she titled it Mommy and I can touch the rainbow. Yesterday’s election tells us that no matter what color we are, we can touch that rainbow of possibility and turn it into a reality. A posse ad esse=from possibility to reality.